2021 NBA Southwest Divisional Preview


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Dallas Mavericks

Last year 6th in conference, 1st in division, 42 – 30


Luka Doncic needs help. Unfortunately, he didn’t really get it this offseason. The biggest move the Mavs made was naming Jason Kidd their coach. And, that could help with his development overall, but Kidd as a head coach hasn’t been super successful. Reggie Bullock is a nice pickup, and resigning Tim Hardaway Jr. was a fine move. The biggest “acquisition” would be getting Kristaps Porzingis to play as he did before his injury. I mean, he is still averaging 20 points a game, but he doesn’t look like much of a factor when you watch the games. There are multiple stretches out there where he might as well be invisible. Will this Dallas team make a bigger push this year? I could see them winning around 47 or 48 games, but don’t expect them to reach 50.


Memphis Grizzlies

Last year 8th in conference, 2nd in division, 38-34


Zion gets all the attention, but Ja Morant is a force to be reckoned with and has had more team success at the NBA level in his young career. Morant is poised for yet another big year and the return of Jaren Jackson Jr. should give them more of a push throughout the year. The biggest issue with the Grizzlies is depth. Their second unit is not strong and will likely struggle to maintain a lead or to keep their team in games. That doesn’t mean they will not win games or every night will be a fight. I am simply pointing out that they aren’t strong enough to move up the rankings in their conference, yet. I do expect more improvement from Ja Morant and am playing him at over 20.6 points per game for one unit.


San Antonio Spurs

Last year 3rd in division, 33-39


The Spurs are not the team you remember them to be. This year looks to be mostly a rebuilding year for the Spurs and it is kind of sad to see Greg Popovich ending his great career with a crappy team. I will say that he is likely to get the most out of his players, and I think that Doug McDermott will have a career year. There really isn’t too much to say about the Spurs other than they will still compete and find someone that will make you more impressed than they would have with another coach.


New Orleans Pelicans

Last year 4th in division, 31-41


I think the Pelicans should be better than what the record is showing. They had talent last year to do more than be a 10 game under .500 team. Maybe it is an issue with figuring out combinations, maybe it is something else. Zion Williamson is clearly the focal point here and has one of the more fun-to-watch skillsets in the game. Brandon Ingram is a skilled scorer that probably can do more than he currently is. The two of them need to figure out a way to play together that translates to wins though. One player to watch on their team is Nickeil Alexander-Walker. If he can improve his shooting now that he is in the starting lineup, they might have a solid combination to build on. Losing Lonzo Ball will hurt their offense, but it should allow Ingram and Williamson to score more. I’d be interested in seeing if either steps up as a point-forward.


Houston Rockets

Last year 5th in division 17-55


In a few years, the Rockets could be in contention for the Western Conference championship. I like the way their future is set up, but their current roster is not going to get them very far as they work out the kinks and learn to play in the NBA. There is a potential rookie of the year candidate, Jalen Green, who should make an immediate impact and even be a headache for a lot of players guarding him. Kevin Porter Jr. may win the Most Improved Player award. The question for the team though is who will be there on day one versus at the end of the year. Eric Gordon has already been mentioned in many trade scenarios, and he could help a contender with some offense off the bench. Christian Wood is another guy that could be moved. So is Daniel Theis. My only expectations from the Rockets this year are that they are bad and the team looks to move their tradable contracts.