NBA Season Preview: Southwest Division
The Southwest Division is stacked this season, but it’s hard to pick against the defending Western Conference Champions. The Spurs bring back almost the exact same roster and also add sharpshooter Marco Belinelli. A lot of people will continue to say Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili are a year older, but everyone said that last year as well. Gregg Popovich continues to be the best coach in the NBA and he will continue to lead this team to the top of the West. Don’t expect the Spurs to take a step back this season as long as they stay healthy. Look for them to take the Southwest Division and make yet another playoff run.
2. Houston Rockets (51-31)
The Rockets made the big splash of the offseason signing Dwight Howard and wooing him away from Los Angeles. The duo of Howard and James Harden will be lethal this season. Patrick Beverly will likely emerge as the starting point guard with Jeremy Lin being a sixth man. Chandler Parsons had a breakout season last year and Omer Asik will complement Howard on the glass. The Rockets will make noise this season, but they are another year away from title contenders. They should be a top five team in the West and finish second in the Southwest Division.
3. Memphis Grizzlies (49-33)
The Grizzlies had another terrific season last year finishing 56-26. They are led by last year’s Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol and double-double machine Zach Randolph. The problem is that they don’t have enough offense to put them ahead of the Texas two-headed monster in this division. Trading Rudy Gay helped the Raptors out a whole lot more than it helped themselves. There’s no true elite scorer that could lead this team past the other powerhouses in the conference. The Grizzlies are undoubtedly a playoff team, but they have too much competition ahead of them and didn’t do enough in the offseason to make them any better.
4. Dallas Mavericks (43-39)
The Mavericks are beginning to age and it seems like the rebuilding process could be nearing soon. They may not be as bad as some people think though with the additions of Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, and Devin Harris. The problem is that they all are in the backcourt. Their frontcourt depth supporting Dirk Nowitzki is fairly weak and they are in one of the toughest divisions in the NBA. Nowitzki has to stay healthy all season in order for this team to make any noise this season and that will be a big question mark at age 35. The Mavericks could slide in the playoffs in one of the final spots, but they are a year or two away from futility.
5. New Orleans Pelicans (32-50)
The New Orleans Pelicans (still weird saying that) improved this offseason and have some nice young pieces, but are far from relevancy. Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday were huge additions revamping their backcourt. That will make this team fun to watch along with Anthony Davis. This team definitely has the building blocks for the future, but they are a couple of years away from contending in this division, let alone the Western Conference.