The NBA offseason is coming to a close and we’re taking a look at a division that had three teams earn a spot in the 2022 NBA Playoffs! All three teams showed flashes of brilliance last year, making them some of the most upcoming sides in the Western Conference.
The Memphis Grizzlies open as the narrow favorite to win the Southwest Division, with the Dallas Mavericks right on their tail. Beyond them, the New Orleans Pelicans hope a surprising end to last season and the return of Zion Williamson will push them to the top!
The Southwest looks to be one of the most competitive divisions in the Western Conference!
Odds taken from FanDuel Sportsbook
|New Orleans Pelicans||+410|
|San Antonio Spurs||+80000|
The Dallas Mavericks were just narrowed out by the Grizzlies for favorite to win the Southwest Division. For Dallas, the difference between last season and this one upcoming is consistency. With Christian Wood in and Kristaps Porzingis out, the Mavericks finally have a productive frontcourt player to pair with Doncic. One of the best players in the league, Luka Doncic certainly has the ability to lead Dallas to the top.
Coach: Taylor Jenkins
2021-22 Record: 56-26 (1st in Southwest, 2nd in West)
2021-22 Result: Lost in NBA Western Conference Semifinals (2-4 vs. GSW)
Key Additions: (G) Danny Green, (F) Jake LaRavia, (G) David Roddy
Key Losses: (F) Kyle Anderson, (G) De’Anthony Melton, (G) Jarrett Culver
JA MORANT put on a show in the Grizzlies GM2 win vs the Warriors ?
47 Points (18 in 4th)
& These Nasty Highlights
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 4, 2022
The Memphis Grizzlies shocked the world off the back of their performance in 2021-22. Not only did they overachieve, but they put real pressure on the eventual champion Golden State Warriors. With the growth of their young stars, the Grizzlies look like the most threatening team in the Southwest division.
Memphis reloaded their roster by re-signing Ja Morant, Tyus Jones, and John Konchar. But they also welcomed veteran Danny Green and promising rookies Jake LaRavia and David Roddy into the fold. They may not have the presence of the old Grit-N-Grind Grizzlies, but Memphis general manager Zach Kleiman has done a great job building around Morant.
The Grizzlies still need to show that the 2021-22 season wasn’t just a fluke. Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, and Dillon Brooks will all need to step up their production in a competitive Western Conference. It won’t be a clear path to the top of the division, but Memphis are in the best position of any team in the Southwest.
Coach: Jason Kidd
2021-22 Record: 52-30 (2nd in Southwest, 4th in West)
2021-22 Result: Lost in NBA Western Conference Finals (1-4 vs. GSW)
Key Additions: (F) Christian Wood, (C) Javale McGee
Key Losses: (G) Jalen Brunson, (G) Sterling Brown, (C) Boban Marjanovic
In Game 7, Luka Doncic tied the Phoenix Suns total team points by himself in the 1st half (27-27).
— This had never happened before in NBA Playoff history, until Luka. pic.twitter.com/9DtnxTkhdU
— MavsMuse (@MavsMuse) July 13, 2022
On paper, the Dallas Mavericks aren’t the most impressive looking team. They were able to scrape together a top four finish last year, but they enter this season without their breakout point guard Jalen Brunson. Nevertheless, Luka Doncic has shown the ability to raise the standard for all of his teammates. Whether that’s enough to stay competitive is the main issue.
The Dallas Mavericks chose not to directly replace Jalen Brunson, instead they’ll lean on Spencer Dinwiddie to make up for the difference in production. They seem to have solved some of their frontcourt issues though, having acquired versatile big man Christian Wood from the Houston Rockets.
The Mavericks will go as far as Luka Doncic will carry them, but he’ll hope to have more reliable help. Their roster is definitely more balanced, but whether or not it’s more talented is up for debate. They’ll certainly compete for a playoff spot, but they need to improve drastically to steal first in the Southwest.
Coach: Willie Green
2021-22 Record: 36-46 (3rd in Southwest, 9th in West)
2021-22 Result: Lost in NBA Western Conference First Round (2-4 vs. Phoenix Suns)
Key Additions: (G) Dyson Daniels
Key Losses: (F) Gary Clark, (G) Tony Snell
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) September 6, 2022
The New Orleans Pelicans surprised many last season when they made a late push for the NBA Playoffs. The late acquisition of CJ McCollum gave them just the push they needed to reach the Play-In and challenge for a post-season position.
After their performance last season, the Pelicans will hope that a full training camp and improved health by Zion Williamson will vault them into playoff contention. Dyson Daniels is an interesting rookie prospect moving forward, but with a glut of talented guards he isn’t expected to get much time.
In their hopes of pushing for top four position, the Pelicans will need to show that they can compete with the likes of the Mavericks and Pelicans in their own division. A healthy year from Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson guarantees them two All-Star level talents. It’ll be up to Willie Green to put it all together.
Coach: Greg Popovich
2021-22 Record: 34-48 (4th in Southwest, 10th in West)
2021-22 Result: Lost in NBA Western Conference Play-in (vs. NOP)
Key Additions: (F) Gorgui Dieng, (F) Jeremy Sochan
Key Losses: (G) Dejounte Murray, (C) Jock Landale
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) September 4, 2022
The San Antonio Spurs were in an area of limbo over their last few seasons, but only through this offseason did they full commit to the rebuild. After shipping out Dejounte Murray for three first-round picks and a pick swap, the Spurs will be looking to develop internally.
Never a massive destination for free agents, the San Antonio Spurs are now trying to rebuild around new rookies Jeremy Sochan, Malaki Branham, and Blake Wesley. Known for their talent in scouting you can expect these Spurs rookies to become valuable players one day, but at present they don’t project to have much impact.
Keldon Johnson and Jakob Poeltl will still be the leaders of this Spurs team, but their lack of depth and overall talent will be a detriment to them. Barring any massive improvements or additions, the Spurs will be fighting to stay out of the bottom of the Western Conference and Southwest Division.
Coach: Stephen Silas
2021-22 Record: 20-62 (5th in Southwest, 15th in West)
2021-22 Result: Failed to qualify for NBA Playoffs
Key Additions: (F) Jabari Smith II, (F) Tari Eason
Key Losses: (F) Christian Wood, (G) Dennis Schroder, (G) John Wall
JABARI SMITH JR. MET HIM AT THE TOP ? pic.twitter.com/mxMvnlFqes
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 17, 2022
The Houston Rockets are clearly in a rebuilding phase. After a quick stint with Christian Wood and giving up on the rehabilitation of John Wall, the Rockets are clearly aiming to build around their young core. After winning a top three pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Rockets are looking even more promising.
Through the offseason the Rockets lost three of their more senior players. Now they will be led by the likes of Jalen Green, Kevin Porter, and third overall pick Jabari Smith Jr. Owning one of the league’s worst net ratings last year, head coach Stephen Silas will have his hands full.
If there’s one thing the Rockets do, it is play with pace. With some young reinforcements, they’re sure to maintain their play. However, they don’t project to be strong defensively and their lack of overall talent will keep them at the bottom of the Western Conference.
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
Email: [email protected]More info on Christian Jope
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