The Southwest Division of the NBA has some of the most exciting talent in the entire league.
With young stars like Luka Doncic, Ja Morant and Zion Williamson, there projects to be no absence of highlights between these players and their respective teams. Are any of them ready to take their team to the next level?
With the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs in the middle of rebuilds, there will be just the three teams to watch in the Southwest Division of the NBA next year: The Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans.
Each loaded with young talent, led by a young star, these three teams will be looking to leap from an exciting young group to a legitimate threat in the Western Conference.
Starting with the team who won the division last season, the Memphis Grizzlies are looking to avenge their Conference Semi-Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Having lost Ja Morant to an injury that took him out of that series, Memphis is hungry to build upon its most successful season in nearly =a decade.
Memphis plays a fast-paced style of basketball that is supported by their plethora of youth. Each member of its starting lineup last season was 26 or younger, led by Morant, who is 22. Indeed, Memphis could make the argument that last year’s success was ahead of schedule.
This is a confident group from the NBA’s Southwest Division that expects to compete with the league’s best.
Even with a healthy Ja Morant, Memphis was evidently a tier below the eventual champion Golden State Warriors during their Western Conference Semi-Finals series.
Without any major changes to their roster, the team will be relying on significant progression from Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks. Should one or multiple players from this group take real leaps forward, the Grizzlies could become even tougher out next year.
Shocking the world with their blowout victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 7 of last year’s Western Conference Semi-Finals, the Dallas Mavericks proved that they’re closer to contention than many had realized.
Losing to the LA Clippers in each of Luka Doncic’s first two seasons, Dallas was unable to advance beyond the first round in 2020 or 2021. Finally avoiding the Clippers in 2022, the team made a Western Conference Finals run.
While Dallas found themselves in the Conference Finals last season, it still feels as if they are a co-star away from legitimate contention. The Doncic-Porzingis pairing never amounted to much, and now having swapped the latter out for Spencer Dinwiddie, there is still an evident gap between the second-best player for Dallas, and the second-best player on several other Western Conference contenders.
There is no clear path to acquiring a co-star for Luka Doncic at the moment, but as history shows, there seems to be at least one disgruntled all-star that becomes available each season.
Should an opportunity to acquire another all-star present itself, that would likely be the most concrete path to contention for the Dallas Mavericks. That said, Luka Doncic has entered the tier of superstars that can win games, and even series, by themselves. Can Dallas ride him all the way to the NBA Finals without a true co-star?
New Orleans Pelicans
After stumbling into some good fortune last season when LA Clippers star Paul George entered health and safety protocols prior to the final play-in game, the New Orleans Pelicans found their way into the playoffs. Pushing the Phoenix Suns to six games, without their young phenom Zion Williamson, New Orleans quickly became a fan favorite.
With young players like Jose Alvarado and Herb Jones wreaking havoc defensively, and Brandon Ingram and C.J. McCollum leading the charge offensively, New Orleans became a fun team to watch. While they were evidently a piece short from being able to make any real noise in the playoffs, could that piece be sitting on their bench?
During his age-20 season, Zion Williamson averaged 27 PPG on 61% from the field. With these averages, Williamson became the first player in NBA history to average at least 27 PPG on at least 60% from the field. Needless to say, those are superstar numbers.
Health has been an obstacle for Williamson to begin his career, with injuries robbing him of the entire 2021-22 season. His impending return should make the Pelicans a team to watch next season.
The last time Williamson played, he was surrounded with a supporting cast that could not complement his game any worse. With Eric Bledsoe at point guard and Steven Adams starting at center, New Orleans surrounded Williamson with players who have zero presence on the perimeter. Now with C.J. McCollum and Jonas Valenciunas filling those spots, the team is much better positioned to support their young generational talent.
San Antonio Spurs
The most consistent team in the NBA over the last two decades, the San Antonio Spurs will be entering uncharted territory for most of their fanbase with this upcoming rebuild. Consistently atop the Western Conference since Tim Duncan’s arrival, San Antonio has defined an era with their dominance.
That said, the team was no longer content treading the waters of mediocrity, and made the decision to bottom out in order to make their way back to the top.
Receiving three future first-round picks in exchange for Dejounte Murray, San Antonio began their rebuild with a solid foundation.
With the right basketball people from top to bottom, the Spurs should be in good hands while they navigate this new normal. Already with a promising young piece in Keldon Johnson, San Antonio will look to build through the draft, and still have veterans like Jakob Poeltl that could bring back even more draft compensation.
Transitioning from the James Harden era was never going to be easy for the Houston Rockets, especially considering the way his departure unfolded.
Forcing his way to the Brooklyn nets, Harden left Houston with little behind. While they did come away with a decent package in return for their superstar guard, the Rockets likely would have been positioned even better had the trade gone down differently.
With a cornerstone piece in Jalen Green, Houston will continue building their youth movement through the draft. While they are still several years away from playoff contention, the Rockets and their fans have reason for optimism that this rebuild can be fruitful.
Southwest Division NBA – Final thoughts
Should health permit, the Southwest Division of the NBA could have three playoff teams again next season. With the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets content gunning for optimal draft positioning, expect to see the Mavericks, Grizzlies, and Pelicans heavily involved in post-regular season action. While neither team is currently on the level of the Warriors or Clippers, they could all be a tough series for anybody.
With so much emphasis being placed on championships, and rightfully so, there does seem to be a lack of appreciation for teams who are building towards that goal.
While the Southwest Division likely will not produce next year’s champion, they will be an absolute factory of highlights and exciting basketball, which is always worth following.
What NBA teams are in the Southwest Division?
The Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs are in the Southwest Division.
Who won the Southwest Division?
The Memphis Grizzlies were the latest team to win the Southwest Division in 2022.
Which team has the most Southwest Division titles?
The San Antonio Spurs have the most Southwest Division titles with 9 titles.
How many conferences are there in the NBA?
The NBA has two conferences, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Each conference has three divisions.
Which conference does the Southwest Division belong to?
The NBA’s Southwest Division belongs to the Western Conference.
How many divisions are there in the NBA’s Western Conference?
There are three divisions in the Western Conference; the Northwest, Pacific and Southwest.
What are the 6 NBA divisions?
The 6 NBA divisions are the Northwest Division, Pacific Division, Southwest Division, Atlantic Division, Central Division and Southeast Division.
How many teams are in each division in the NBA?
Each division in the NBA has 5 teams.
When did the NBA switch to 6 divisions?
The NBA switched to 6 divisions in 2004 after the Charlotte Bobcats became the league’s 30th team. Prior to the expansion, there were four divisions and 29 teams.
When did the NBA add divisions?
The NBA realigned to four divisions in 1970 after they expanded to 17 teams. Previously there was only the East and West Divisions.
Why does the NBA still have divisions?
Divisions are divided into teams in the same region. This helps teams cut down on travel costs and reduces the toll on players’ bodies during the regular season.