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Old to New: NBA Southwest Division Preview

Old to New: NBA Southwest Division Preview

Is this finally the year that the San Antonio Spurs take a back seat in the division?

Even during the Mavericks recent heydays it seemed as if the Spurs sat in the co-pilot seat waiting to take back control at a moments notice.

Now the Memphis Grizzlies enter the fray as a legitimate threat to the division crown and potentially the conference due to their size but health is always concern.

How will the Southwest division play out?

Our panel is back at it again with a look at the division top to bottom:

Cal Lee Picks @CLMECCA75

1.San Antonio Spurs


2. Dallas Mavericks


3. Memphis Grizzlies


4. Houston Rockets


5. New Orleans Hornets


If it ain’t broke, don’t break it up and don’t fix it. There is a reason many of the other NBA teams look to the Spurs and their personnel on how to create and sustain a successful franchise. Since 1996 when Gregg Popovich took over, the Spurs have collected 4 NBA Titles, 4 Western Conference titles, and 10 Divisional Titles. It’s really 9, but why delay the inevitable.

The first quarter of the season is going to be tough with Dirk Nowitzki being sidelined with a knee injury, but the acquisition of O.J. Mayo should definitely offset some of the offensive deficiencies they may suffer. The Mavericks are much improved and a slightly deeper team that includes big bodies (Kaman, and Brand) to bully most front court teams. The key will be the backcourt. No Kidd, that means Roddy Beaubois and Darren Collison must carry load.

You really have to be impressed with what Lionel Hollins has been able to do with the Grizzlies. Defensively they are Top 5 in the NBA. If they can find a model of consistent play and not go through those winless droughts that plague them during the course of a regular season, they can position themselves nicely to make a run for the playoffs. Gay, Gasol and Rudolph sound like a harmonious symphony that can orchestrate a 50 plus win season. Everyone will need to step their game up to bolster a woeful 95 points per game which was 20th in the NBA.

It’s amazing how during the 1st half of last season NBA analysts were giving praises to the Rockets for being competitive and had them as a solid pick as one of the final 8 teams in the West to possibly make playoffs. Then they had about as bad a 2nd half of the season as any team could have and they finished the year (34-32). Unfortunately the Houston brass has yet to build an identity for this team, I’m not sold on McHale’s Army to pull off what they did last year.

I want to go out on a limb and at least say the Hornets can actually be a better team than the Rockets. But unless they can keep Eric Gordon healthy (won’t happen), and Anthony Davis channels his inner “Dwight Howard” and goes shot block happy where they can defensively keep themselves in games, this will be a long season for one of the youngest teams in the NBA.

Logan Williams Picks @LoganWill17

1.San Antonio Spurs


2.Memphis Grizzlies


3. Dallas Mavericks


4. Houston Rockets


5. New Orleans Hornets


The San Antonio Spurs continue to be a solid team despite getting older and I feel like this team has another run left at the division title and possibly an NBA championship. The Spurs will have to get back to their old ways of defense mixed with their new offensive look in hopes for a title.

 The Grizzlies lost a key piece in O.J. Mayo but they continue to get better and better as the recent years have passed. This year will be no different but it will not be enough to overtake the Spurs a top the Southwest division.

 The Dallas Mavericks come in third place on my pre-season predictions and they may have finished higher but with Dirk Nowitzki out at least six weeks they take a dip, but not too far because of the addition of O.J. Mayo who will fit nicely in the Mavericks scheme, and the addition of Elton Brand could end up being a sneaky good pick-up if he is able to provide 25-30 quality minutes a game to refresh both Nowitzki (when healthy) and another new addition in Chris Kaman who can be a great addition and a solid low post presence on both offense and defense for the Mavericks.

Next up LINsanity and the Houston Rockets who are a young(er) team and will play like it this year. The Rockets added Terrence Jones and Jeremy Lamb via the draft and they will get a chance to contribute right away, it seems, as they should. The Rockets also added Jeremy Lin and Toney Douglas but the aforementioned Lin is their key pickup. I don’t find the addition of Lin to be a good one because of the money and the guy is not really a good NBA point guard. Lin turns the ball over way too many times and he shoots too much to make those around him better, Lin is a good story and seems like a nice kid but he is not a point guard you want your team to be built around.

“Chris Paul come back,” that is what the Hornets and their fans are saying year one after CP3. The players the Hornets got in the trade both disappointed by either injury (Eric Gordon) or were being shopped around (Chris Kaman) but they were able to bring in a youth movement by way of this year’s draft. The Hornets picked up Anthony Davis (Kentucky) as the number one overall pick and then later on added high(er) profiled players Austin Rivers (Duke) and Darius Miller (Kentucky), but that will not be enough to get this team out of the basement of this division despite a slightly better record than last year.

Sean Eckert Picks  @chefdj409

1.San Antonio Spurs


2.Memphis Grizzlies


3. Dallas Mavericks


4. Houston Rockets


5. New Orleans Hornets


San Antonio should take a step back this year, but still be good enough to win the decision.  No team has been better at incorporating new players as the veterans get old than San Antonio.

Memphis is probably the only team in this division that has a chance to go deep into the postseason, as long as they can stay healthy.

Dallas is in the process of trying to retool, Dirk is hurt, and they are at least a year and some new players away from seriously contending.

The Rockets will have some excitement early in the year with the addition of Jeremy Lin, however, unless he plays well that will be short lived.

New Orleans has their own new addition in the form of Anthony Davis, the #1 overall pick in this year’s draft.  They or Houston could make at run at Dallas for that #3 spot and maybe a bottom seed in the playoffs, but I doubt it.

Warren Shaw Picks @Shawsports

1.San Antonio Spurs


2.Memphis Grizzlies


3. Dallas Mavericks


4. Houston Rockets


5. New Orleans Hornets


The Spurs are vanilla ice cream but they recently added a cherry on top with their suddenly potent  offensive attack. San Antonio averaged 103 points per game last year good for 2nd in the league. The band is still intact (Parker, Duncan, Ginobili, and Coach Popovich) with the added promise and development of Kawhi Leonard. No better organization in the league top to bottom than San Antonio. Remember the Alamo and never forget the Spurs.

The Grizzlies would love to stay healthy and If they do they could be a serious threat to overtake the Spurs. Their core of Gay, Randolph, Conley, and Gasol have experience and are playoff tested. Newcomer Jeryd Bayless should help fill the void left by O.J. Mayo and give the team the outside shooting it desperately needs.

I initially was very high on Dallas but have tempered my expectations due to the injury of Nowitzki  (out 6-8 weeks)and passive nature exhibited by Mayo in pre-season. On paper the moves they made were sheer genius considering the alternative but Kaman has to stay healthy, Dirk needs to come back healthy, and Mayo needs to have a breakout year for the Mavs to make noise. A lot of variables to an equation that hasn’t had a promising start.

Houston did everything they could to obtain a “star” over the summer and they may have done so with their out of nowhere acquisition of James Harden just 3 days before the season begins. Harden plus Jeremy Lin should make for a dynamic backcourt. Lin’s signing was a business decision that will pan out even if he plays averagely due to the Asian market that already follows Houston because of Yao Ming.  The roster is full of young and tradable talent (Patterson, Parsons, Jones, White, and Motiejunas) that could be moved to acquire “another” star to play alongside Lin and Harden. As they stand they are too inexperienced to make legitimate noise in the division but could challenge for an 8th seed in the conference.

The Hornets are in for a rough season and the decision to not let Eric Gordon walk may haunt them for years. The dude’s knees are just too brittle but there is no denying his ability to score. Anthony Davis looks like the real deal while Austin Rivers might be the most confident person on the planet. The swag of Rivers could suffer if they insist on playing him at the point guard position but the chronic injuries of Gordon might save the rookie from that ill fated path.

Steven Jones Picks @Stevenjo5

1.San Antonio Spurs


2.Memphis Grizzlies


3. Dallas Mavericks


4. Houston Rockets


5. New Orleans Hornets


The Spurs smartly retooled on the fly without breaking up last season’s first-place nucleus, and could have one of the best regular-season rotations of Tim Duncan’s tenure.

In Memphis Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol form the best 1-2 big man punch east of California, but the wing situation is still just above-average unless Rudy Gay lives up to his extension.

The Mavericks did well to shore up their current predicament with a series of rentals (Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo) but losing playoff hero Jason Terry and dealing with Dirk Nowitzki’s ongoing knee issues will limit their postseason ceiling.

James Harden and Jeremy Lin should form the most retro backcourt in existence, with both guards capable of handling the ball or playing off of it. They’ll be fun to watch, but their teammates aren’t ready to provide enough support for anything more than an entertaining lottery team

Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson both bring much-needed skill sets to an overachieving bunch who played as hard as anyone last season. The Hornets’ win total could go up if Eric Gordon plays more than nine games.

We will continue our division previews later this week finishing up with the Northwest and Pacific.  Please feel free to comment here whether you agree or disagree or by using #NBAonPSB on Twitter for any questions for our panel.

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I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at

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One Comment

In response to “Old to New: NBA Southwest Division Preview”

  1. Warren Shaw Oct 26 201211:39 am


    I think the Rockets could be really bad if Lin is not 100% healthy. Their youth and talent on the frontline is crazy though.

    The Hornets could surprise some folks as Monty Williams has proven to be a pretty damn good coach capable of reaching and motivating his players. Have to wonder what is going to happen with Eric Gordon though.

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