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NBA Division Previews: Southwest Division Preview
1. San Antonio Spurs, -120
The core group from their early championship years may finally be getting up there in age, but the team has an outstanding draft track record and superb player development. Tim Duncan may remain the leader and best known player, but the Spurs have excellent depth all over the court. The Spurs resigned Kawhi Leonard in the offseason and lured LaMarcus Aldridge from Portland to give the Spurs even more depth at power forward. The Spurs team is strong enough they can rest Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker on given nights and keep them fresh for the team inevitable playoff run.
2. Houston Rockets, +200
James Harden led the Houston Rockets to their first division title since 95’ – back when the NBA only had two divisions in each conference. The team relies heavy on Harden and Dwight Howard to score, but the addition of Ty Lawson should help open the floor up more and allow for more scoring chances. The two guard spots for the Rockets are deep and the players are developing more chemistry together. The Rockets can beat the Spurs for the division title, but they are the underdogs mainly due to concerns about player health – we are talking about you Dwight.
3. Memphis Grizzlies, +600
The Grizzlies bring back a team built on tough-physical play and strong defense, a formula that has worked well until the second round of the playoffs. The Grizzlies resigned Marc Gasol to a max deal and added Brandan Wright for offense and Matt Barnes for defense. Wright and Tony Allen help Memphis with a solid tandem at guard, but the team lacks that explosive scorer the elite in the west have. The Grizzlies are built to make the postseason, but are too largely outmatched by the offense prowess of the Rockets and Spurs to win the Southwest in 2015.
4. New Orleans Pelicans, +1200
Anthony Davis…Need more be said about the Pelicans and their playoff aspirations in 2016. Davis is arguably the top young player in the league and is well on his way to being considered in the top three with the likes of LeBron James and Steph Curry. The Pelicans issue is the players surrounding Davis are not particularly good. Omer Asik got a big contract in the offseason and the Pelicans have been highly scrutinized for it. Tyreke Evans can score and create opportunities, but is a large liable on defense and lacks the range of better small forwards. The Pelicans are lucky Davis is only 22 this season and they have plenty of time to acquire more talent around him. For now though the team just is not deep enough to compete with the best in the west.
5. Dallas Mavericks, +10000
The Dallas Mavericks offseason was somewhat of a disaster. The team did add a few solid pieces – including former All-Star Deron Williams and Javale McGee – but the contract fiasco involving DeAndre Jordan left the team in a bind. Jordan – who verbally committed to the Mavs- backed out on the deal and returned to the Los Angeles Clippers. This move really hurt the Mavs as they lost out on the chance to sign any of the other elite big men available in the summer. The Mavs also lost their lead scorer – Monta Ellis – to the Pacers. The team still has Dirk Nowitzki but as he enters his 18th season, he is in the twilight of his career and his evitable replacement is coming off an injury to his Achillies tendon.
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