NBA / Oct 14, 2009 / 4:30 pm

The Fall Of The Texas Triangle

Texas

It’s kind of odd that the once-dreaded Texas Triangle seems overlooked these days, and for good reason. The Rockets’ quick fall from grace (with key losses in Yao Ming and Ron Artest) now leaves them for perhaps an 7th seed at best, and that’s just because they still have most of last year’s team.

But, you have to love newcomer Trevor Ariza‘s upside, as he could very well emerge as their go-to guy this year. In a system that will feature him, he will get more responsibility on both ends. Therefore, you can’t count on his stats last year (8.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.8 apg) as a sign of what’s ahead, because they’re bound to go up. More importantly, Ariza averaged almost two steals per game.

Paired with the scrappy bunch of Shane Battier, Luis Scola, Carl Landry and Aaron Brooks makes the Rockets a fun team to watch.

The Mavericks, meanwhile, are slowly starting to look like the recent Suns teams that just couldn’t get it done. And with a core of players that have been trying for a while now, the lack of success suggests that the team’s composition is not enough to win. True, Dirk and Josh Howard are still two of the best forwards in the West, and they may have bought themselves a couple more chances with the acquisition of Shawn Marion (who does not need plays set for him to produce), but the Mavs aren’t getting any younger.

And finally, the Spurs. While they’re still the best team among the three, and do look considerably better than they did last year, what does the team “on paper” really tell us?

There are still the health question marks surrounding Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, and how the defense will change with the addition of Antonio McDyess, Theo Ratliff and Richard Jefferson while losing Bruce Bowen and Fabricio Oberto. But RJ’s 19.6 ppg will be welcomed and is certainly an upgrade compared to what Bowen gave them offensively.

With most of the league upgrading, especially the West’s playoff teams, the window for a Texas championship is closing. And while the Spurs still have the best chance, it seems that the power (and hype) has shifted to the Northwest, where Portland, Utah and Denver are looking to take over.

What do you think?

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  • Oscarisalakerfan

    Texas is done until they get some new superstars…

  • That’s whats up

    I know you all ain’t talkin’ ’bout THE SPURS !!!

  • Shrink This

    I think that if Ariza is your go-to guy, you’ve got problems and as a result I think the Rockets have the potential to be very very bad this year.

    And I think a championship will continue to elude Dallas as they continue to suffer from Mark Cuban’s Daniel Snyder-esque attempts to buy very expensive pieces and try to duct tape them into a cohesive unit…

  • Mack Brownee

    Dallas and San Antonio will finish in the top 4 in the west this year. How is Texas falling off? we’ll never fall off baby….TEXAS KEEP IT TRILL

  • hahns

    as much as i like trevor ariza, he is NOT a go-to player. he simply does not have the skill set for it. hes never been a gifted offensive player. he JUST developed a J over the past year (and he’s been in the league how long?). hes at best a third bannana on a contender. his signing has been much ballyhooed over the summer….if the rockets are expecting him to score more than 15 points a game, they’re going to be sorely disappointed.

  • http://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    I really don’t like this article.

    Mostly I don’t like it because it’s true though lol.

    Dang.

    Still…Houston Up!

    Ariza? …Ariza? SMH

  • SWAT

    man no one knows wht Ariza is gonna do. and like Jose said htown basically has the same squad tht gave yall LA boys fits last season. we hv nothing to lose this year so expect alot of hustle plus TMAC may be a beast whn he gets back. alot of questions for sure but who knows.
    @ oscar-yall are gonna be so tired of the TMZ frenzy around yall after all this lamar-kardashian marriage thing i predict KOBE losing his cool a couple of times this season trying to keep his squad on track.

  • http://www.in-n-outnba.blogspot.com Lucas

    Hopefully Houston has a horrendous season, lands a top 3 pick and gets John Wall. That certainly would revive Houston.

  • Ian

    how is texas falling off??
    spurs can win it all and the mavs with a bit of luck (spurs lakers play second round and whoever wins has their best player injured for the conference finals) can make the finals.

  • jake

    Ariza – go to guy? You’re joking right? I don’t think they brought him in as a “Tmac fill in” but alot of people have the idea that he is. He is a good player who has continuously improved, but he’s not going to save this team from NOT making the playoffs. Not even T-Mac can guarantee them playoff spots at this point.

  • sh!tfaced

    Maybe we can now call it the Texas Two Step…?

  • hahns

    lol, “tmac may be a beast this year.”

    hope springs eternal….

    as a knicks fan im always optimistic about the season…but thats almost as bad as saying eddy curry will be an all-star

  • George W Kush Sr

    I don’t know about this falling off you’re talking about. Houston obviously lost 2 big names but Mavs and Spurs can go toe to toe with anybody.

    Spurs are actually better than last year

  • arisloco

    Knicks are done even though the season hasn’t started yet.

    Houston Up!

  • Ross

    “it seems that the power (and hype) has shifted to the Northwest, where Portland, Utah and Denver are looking to take over.”
    What power and hype are you talking about?

  • dagwaller

    The Rockets were bad a few years ago, and there was no noise about this back then. Furthermore, they have shown that without T-Mac and Yao, for whatever reason, they do very well. The Triangle is going nowhere.

    But welcome to the Dime crew.

  • rangerjohn

    LAUGHABLE!

    sure those of us are bias and all but out of the portland/utah/denver trio, 1 team is young and un proven, one team is falling apart and cant decide what to do with their 2nd “star”, and one team had a decent second half of a season last year and had a bunch of so-so seasons before that. trust those of us in texas, there are still no 3 teams in any single division more feared then the spurs/rockets/mavs trio.

    LAUGHABLE!

  • heartbreaker85

    san antonio? done?

    nah.

    tony parker, rj and that beast of a rookie named blair are the future now.

    throw in timmy d at 5 and whoever can play the SG and defend at the same time adn they’re still set.

    manu’s done though and come in and play that mike finley role (the argentine can shoot from deep).

  • Ian

    heartbreaker i guess that nick fits u well what do u mean manu is done???? i just dropped 37 on kobe in 2k10 hehe

  • hadoken

    mavs and spurs will be up there with the best. but houston relying on ariza? gtf outta here. what has he done that even makes you think that he can be worth that contract he was given? a couple decent games as a 4th option does not make a go to guy. i’m not a hater but im so sick of hearing about ariza and what he’s supposed to produce this year. when i hear the name ariza all i hear is bust bust bust. if houston does anything all i can picture is brooks and scola going wild.

  • Curtis G

    Being a Houston fan, it hurts me to say this, but the Rockets might not even be a 7th seed… even at their best! However, there are three things that will swing Houston’s success one way or the other and neither has anything to do with Ariza:
    1) David Andersen, when given minutes this preseason, has proven to be surprisingly effective averaging 13 and 8 (except for the first game). If that type of production carries over into the season, the Rockets may be more solid at center than anyone would have guessed by only missing 7 of Yao’s points and 2 of his rebounds. More than a few people on Houston’s bench can make that up.
    2) Next, that boy Chase Budinger looks like he is the real deal. After shooting 70+ percent in the summer league, he is showing it wasn’t all a fluke in avareging nearly 65% from the floor (their last game excluded)! If Adelman can get some pick and pop plays run for this dude at least 6 or 7 times a game (which is a shot Chase looks to be very comfortable with) to go along with the shots he somehow (amazingly) creates for himself, there is no way this dude WON’T average somewhere around 19 ppg. Seriously, this dude could be a legitimate darkhorse contender for ROY!
    3) And as much as I know no one here wants to hear it, Tracy mcGrady can mean the difference between the Rockets making the playoffs or not. If you would have asked me about him at the end of last year, I would have told you that his heart just wasn’t in the game anymore and that he was going to quietly slip into retirement at the end of next year to crusade for Darfur fulltime. Now, though, he seems to have a renwed fire and, honestly, I think he may be getting ready to pull a Dikembe in that he only wants to continue to play because he will need that contract money to help fund his humanitarian efforts abroad. Regardless of where he is getting his fire and heart, a healthy, able, and motivated Tracy McGrady means problems for the rest of the league’s would be defenders and a playoff berth for the Rockets…
    BUT ONLY IF ALL THREE OF THOSE THINGS FALL INTO PLACE!

    P.S. The reason why Ariza doesn’t factor into this equation is because even if he only does for Houston this year what he did for LA last year, and all those other things fall into place, they will be a much better offensive team this year than they were last year with the same amount of defense.
    GO ROCKETS!!!

  • fLaVa

    This is probably one of the worst articles i’ve read on dime…

    Ariza as a go-to player? thats just sad.. and NO WAY IN HELL are houston gonna come close in SNIFFING anywhere in the playoff race… Looks like this is the year they’re in the John Wall sweepstakes.

    Mavs are older but they have tons of talent to make noise this year.

    I hate the spurs but they will definately do damage especially if Manu is healthy. WIth new addition of RJ and his 19pts a game, that takes a good load off TD and parker to rest for the playoffs.

    nothing really matters cuz the lakers will repeat anyways!!!

  • baron von faulk

    Look forward to many 4-13 shooting nights from Ariza (and Brooks) this season. Rockets are gonna have a hard time scoring! Scola is their only real baller right now, that isn’t a defensive specialist. Aaron Brooks ain’t there yet, mang. I say turn Pops Mensah-Bonsu loose and see what happens…

    Spurs are easily better than last season and they have the best shot at the Lakers in the West. RJ on board, Hill and Mason gonna be better as Spurs sophomores, Blair and McDyess there to grab boards now. Tough!

    Dallas will never win the chip with Ericka Dampier AND Drew Gooden on the same team. They will have nights where they look plain nasty, all the shots fall, and they score 130 points. Then the next game they gonna look like good ol’ Allas again. Entertaining maybe, but not chip-caliber.

    . . . . . . . .

    Oh yeah, and the Spurs will OWN the Jazz as long as Duncan is in the league.

    Blazers are making the right moves (if Oden can stay healthy), but I don’t think they’ll ever get over not drafting Durant. Aldridge needs to figure out how to grab 10 boards in a game on occasion. Andre Miller is gonna be a mistake within 2 years.

    Nuggets? They’re the new Phoenix Suns, scary when they are on, but just too inconsistent to win it. JR Smith gotta mature someday. Kenyon Martin is 7 years past his prime. Nene needs to stay healthy. Birdman gotta stay away from them dunk contests.

    SOUTHWEST DIVISION, way stronger y’all

  • doc

    As soon as Timmy retire San An done.Until then it aint over.

  • cube

    Stopped reading after Houston..Extremely bad analysis. Ariza won’t “emerge as their go-to-guy”. Simply because he does not possess the needed qualities. He’ll get those minutes all right, but he won’t take no goddamn last shots as the clock running down. They have Brooks for that.

    And there’s nothing fun about team consisting of a bunch ballbrakers like Battier, Scloa and Landry. They’ll be grunging those W’s. No fun at all. Good team though

  • baron von faulk

    Spurs are Tony’s team now.

  • http://dimemag.com/2009/10/the-fall-of-the-texas-triangle/ Jose Francisco Cubol

    Hey all!

    First off, thanks for the input. But just to set the record straight, I’m not calling Ariza a go-to guy. I’m saying he could emerge as so simply because there’s no one else.

    Second, this isn’t an analysis predicting anything, nor is it primarily for this year, only. This is merely an observation for the future, based on last years events and this past off-season’s moves. It’s not a diss on any of the three Texas teams, but it is just an observation of the evident balance and parity there is in the west, as compared to how they used to dominate. And, obviously anything can happen in any given season.

    Have a good one, all!

  • http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/ProphetGK ProphetGK

    Yeah Northwest taking over no doubt

  • AB_40

    I think playing dallas and san antonio back to back with one day of rest after that to play a scrappy and very annoying houston team is gonna hurt a lot of teams going there this year.

    spurs are contenders dallas are semi contenders and houston are contenders to be in the playoffs hehe

    denver, portland and utah are all semi contenders

  • AB_40

    budinger 19 ppg? you’re crazy

  • Curt G

    @ AB_40:

    Yes, Budinger can average 19 ppg. If you were remotely watching the summer league and the preseason (thus far) you would know that he average 17 ppg in the summer league and is currently averaging 11.6 ppg in the preseason… while only starting four games combined (he’s played in 14 total). If he starts (or at least gets starter minutes) dude is going to get more shots which is going to see him get more buckets. The only problem I see standing in the way of that is the fact that Ariza, Battier, and McGrady (when he comes back) will eat into any time he could see at SF/SG so, more than likely, he will see back up minutes (if that) and, of course, his lack of real defense is always going to make him an unlikely choice at SG whenever Brooks is on the floor too. Honestly, the best situation for Chase is for McGrady to come back so Adelman can trot out an offensively potent (and tall) backcourt of Chase and McGrady. Pair that with a frontcourt of Pops, Scola/Landry, and Ariza and you’ve got a pretty potent offensive line-up on the court for Houston. I am a Houston fan so maybe I am biased a little, but this team (while worse than the past few previous teams) does not seem as bad as a lot of people think and I think they will surprise more than a few people.