Southwest Division Preview

Nick Wetzel, Sports Editor

Southwest Division



San Antonio Spurs

With the retirement of “The Big Fundamental,” aka Tim Duncan, the changing of the guard is officially underway in San Antonio. Of course, handing the torch to a player like Kawhi Leonard is very easy. Throw in LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol, and the Spurs look just fine. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli still look like they have enough in the tank to have another productive season. The Spurs also have David Lee, Patty Mills, and DeWayne Dedmon off of the bench, so they should be fine. A two—or at worst three—seed is in their future.



Houston Rockets

After an incredible 2014-2015 season that saw James Harden almost beat out Steph Curry for the MVP, the Rockets were huge disappointments last year. This season looks to be a rebound year for the Rockets however. They moved on from Howard, moved Harden to point guard, and signed Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson to build on to their 3-point shooting. They also named Clint Capela as their starting center after he impressed when filling in for Howard. Sam Dekker is now healthy and should be a nice compliment off of the bench. Houston should be able to reassert themselves as a real threat in the West and will compete for anywhere from the third to the sixth playoff seed.


Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks recent run of playoff appearances might finally come to an end this season. The difference here is that the moves they made in the offseason just might not be enough to overcome the gauntlet that is the Western Conference. The additions of Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut should help, but it appears that the only way the Mavs will make the playoffs is in a fight for the eighth seed.





Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies are another team whose playoff run might be coming to an end.  It starts with finding successors to Tony Allen and Zach Randolph, both prime examples of Memphis’ gritty play over their times there. Both players are aging and the Grizzlies are going to have to rely more on Marc Gasol, newly-signed Chandler Parsons, and the man who signed the richest contract in NBA history, Mike Conley. The Grizzlies will contend for one of the last spots in the playoffs, but the interesting aspect for them this year will be the development of some of their younger players.



New Orleans Pelicans

Despite having one of the best young players in the league, Anthony Davis, the Pelicans have struggled to really compete in the Western Conference. The main reason for this is the lack of weapons around him. Tyreke Evans had a tough time staying healthy last year and the Pelicans didn’t really have many other weapons. Not much has changed this year, but they do have some young players who could develop into contributors on the team. Langston Galloway, Terrance Jones, Tim Frazier, and first rounder Cheick Diallo all have the opportunity to have ample playing time this year and could help the team.



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