By Cody Winstead/CBS 11 Sports

-At the All-Star break, the Dallas Mavericks are still the favorites to win the Western Conference.  Oklahoma City, San Antonio and both Los Angeles teams are good, but have weaknesses.  If the Mavs stay healthy during the playoffs, they could easily be headed to their 2nd straight NBA finals.

-We guaranteed at the beginning of the season the Miami Heat would win the NBA title this year.  Now at the halfway point in the season, they’re beginning to separate themselves from the rest of the league.  LeBron James is the runaway favorite for MVP and the Heat’s depth has become a major strength after being a weakness a year ago.

-A high percentage of Jeremy Lin’s success has come from the offensive system he plays in.  Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni puts his point guards in position to put up huge numbers.  Lin wouldn’t be near the same player if he played for the Chicago, Dallas or the Lakers.

-Alabama running back Trent Richardson will quickly become a top 6 to 8 RB in the NFL.  Some experts have suggested he’s the best tailback prospect since Adrian Peterson and we agree.

-The biggest need for the Dallas Cowboys in the offseason is safety.  Outside linebacker (opposite DeMarcus Ware) is the 2nd most important position, followed by offensive guard and then cornerback.  We still think Anthony Spencer will return for at least one more season with Dallas.

-The Texas Rangers have to be slightly concerned that their starting rotation depends on Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz.

-It will be a few more weeks before we predict Yu Darvish’s win/loss record and the Rangers win total for the 2012 season.  Stay tuned.