I’m being inundated with analysts, experts, and bookmakers disrespecting the Dallas Mavericks.  Just today I got an email from a european sportsbook that put the Lakers as the favorites and the Thunder as the second favorite.  I’d blame it on them being stupid euros but the american sportsbooks say the same thing.

So, I’m going to set the record straight here.  For the benefit of NBA fans, euros, and preseason prognosticators.   The Mavs are the clear pick to win the Western Conference.

-If you bet on the Lakers at 2-1, not only are you getting bad odds, but you are throwing away money unless they find a way to bring in Dwight Howard.  You are about to see how important Phil Jackson was to all those rings, and how big of a baby Kobe is.  Mike Brown isn’t strong enough to hold that together.  And without Lamar Odom being a 53% FG shooting jack of all trades, the product on the floor should be enough to push Bryant into crybaby mode.   

Magic Johnson said after last night’s game, “Kobe needs more help this year than in any other year in which they won a championship”, and he just lost one of his best teammates for nothing.  It’s over for Kobe.   Yes, Yeesss, let me taste your tears, Kobe.

-The Thunder will be great someday.  But even though Kevin Durant is adding Dirk’s patented flamingo fadeaway  (credit to Whitt for name), that day is still far off.  Basketball is a young mans game that is dominated by the league’s oldest players.    It takes years to master the game at a championship level.  How else do you explain the Heat losing last year?  How do you explain OKC outplaying the Mavs for the majority of the quarters in the conference finals, but losing the series in six?   

As many good things as I hear about how Russell Westbrook is really a nice guy, he has a ton of growing up to do on the court.  It’s no wonder the only game they won in the conference finals, was with him on the bench in the fourth.

-Memphis Grizzlies are a cute pick and are a tough matchup but lack talent at the ball handling positions.   They depend too much on Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph who are very good players but aren’t going to cancel out the other team’s best players in the final 8. 

-The San Antonio Spurs will win a lot of games, probably end up with a top four seed, and then watch Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and or Manu Ginobli suffer either ankle or back injuries in the final 6 weeks of the season.   Their key players will then be game time decisions in the playoffs.   You think I’m just saying this to have a bold prediction don’t you?  

-Portland will be very dangerous if Greg Oden returns in March and proves he can learn how to play nba ball just by watching and his teammates three times a week and getting buzzed with the locals on off nights for two straight years.   And then stays healthy.  In other words the Blazers will still not be dangerous.  

Hey, at least their owner talked for the first time in two years and doesn’t plan on letting it become a lottery team or sell the team.    

-Los Angeles Clippers are the sexy team of the day in the nba (pause) after beating the Lakers in preseason last night.    This team is going to be fun because of Chris Paul and Blake Griffen, Chauncey Billups and Deandre Jordan give them a very solid four.   But, it’s going to be very difficult to put it all together in an abbreviated season, and Caron Butler is fat apparently.

Your 2011-2012 Western Conference Official Preview is now complete.   Please pass it along. 

You have been ballin with Gavin Dawson, See me Beer me.