We may only be three weeks into the 2016-17 NBA season, however, it is a sample size more than sufficient enough to reveal the true colors of these teams and the future that lies ahead of them. As we progress further into the six-month gauntlet that is the NBA regular season, here are the best- and worst-kept secrets for every franchise. Today: the Southwest Division.
San Antonio Spurs, 9-3
Best-kept secret: Within the next two seasons, Jonathon Simmons and Kyle Anderson will become the next generation of Spurs cornerstones (previously: Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili) who combine with the franchise’s superstar (previously: Tim Duncan; currently: Kawhi Leonard) to ultimately dominate the NBA as a single unit.
Worst-kept secret: LaMarcus Aldridge’s trade value will never be higher than it is now. He is a bona fide all-star, however, it’s becoming clearer by the day that his style of play does not fit into the Spurs’ long-term plans.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsTroy Taormina
Memphis Grizzlies, 6-5
Best-kept secret: Zach Randolph and his expiring contract will return some decent value when the Grizzlies inevitably fall out of contention and he gets traded right before the February deadline.
Worst-kept secret: You aren’t dreaming, Grizzlies fans, Chandler Parsons is under contract through 2020 making just less than $100 million to play professional basketball.
Getty ImagesStacy Revere
Houston Rockets, 6-5
Best-kept secret: James Harden might win the MVP. His defense remains atrocious, but if he continues to put up ludicrous numbers (28.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 12.6 assists per game) his offensive production will be too stellar to ignore. Harden has recorded 15 assists five times this season. Every other player in the NBA combined has one 15-assist game.
Worst-kept secret: The Rockets don't even try on defense, and it will ultimately be their doom. When the game slows down in the playoffs and halfcourt basketball supersedes transition play, the Rockets’ 22nd-ranked 108.5 defensive rating (points surrendered per 100 possessions) will reveal its ugly head. Mike D’Antoni’s best-defense-is-a-good-offense strategy is a fantasy dream but will turn into a nightmare when the lights are at their brightest.
Dallas Mavericks, 2-8
Best-kept secret: Justin Anderson is the most promising young prospect on a decaying Dallas Mavericks roster and is getting better every time he touches the floor. When he’s not flying through the air throwing down a vicious dunk, you can find him always in the right place at the right time. Every loose ball just happens to find Anderson – and it’s not a coincidence. In addition, despite being the Internet’s punching bag for an entire summer, Harrison Barnes has been worth every penny. He leads the team at 22.9 points per game and is shooting an exemplary 49.2 percent from the field.
Worst-kept secret: Andrew Bogut has been so bad that the Mavericks need to consider an addition-by-subtraction move. Bogut has one of the worst offensive ratings in the entire league (80) among players who start, and his overall net rating of -22 makes him simply unplayable. Can he still be of use to an NBA team somewhere? Absolutely. Just not in Dallas.
New Orleans Pelicans, 2-10
Best-kept secret: Anthony Davis cannot simply leave the franchise until the summer of 2020.
Worst-kept secret: Buddy Hield might go down as one of the biggest letdowns in recent NBA draft hype history. Granted: it’s early … VERY early … but through the first month of the season, he is statistically one of the worst players in the NBA who averages more than 20 minutes per game: -5.9 box score +/-, the lowest true shooting percentage on the entire roster (44.8%), and an 8.7 PER … 8.7!!!! (the league avearge is 15.) Oh, speaking of PER -- you know who is at 7.3? The guy they signed for $48 million last summer: Solomon Hill. Buzz, your offseason ... woof!