Home / Sports Lists / 2014-15 team previews: Southwest Division


Check out our predictions for the NBA’s Southwest Division. Can the Spurs keep their foot on the gas, as they look to keep Father Time on the bench in 2014-15, or will the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, or Memphis Grizzlies be nipping at their heels?

Can Anthony Davis become the associations premiere power-forward? Will Dwight Howard and James Harden push the Rockets further this season? Can Dirk Nowitzki and the re-tooled Mavericks win it all? Will Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Tony Allen prove that defense wins championships?

Find the answers to all of these questions below!

1st Place – San Antonio Spurs


Last Season: 62-20

2014-15 Projection: 57-25

Key Additions: None

Key Losses: None

The San Antonio Spurs will head into the 2014-15 season trying to repeat as champions for the first time in team history, but they are going to need to find the motivation they had all of last season after they felt as though they handed the Heat the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2013.

Kyle Anderson is a nice addition, and they didn’t lose any major players. They continue to be the best team in the NBA, but making a third straight Finals is going to be a major challenge. Expect the Spurs to continue to be near the top of the Western Conference, but don’t be surprised when they lose several more games than last season. (Mark Pace)

2nd Place – Dallas Mavericks


Last Season: 49-33

2014-15 Projection: 55-27

Key Additions: Chandler Parson (HOU), Tyson Chandler (NYK), Jameer Nelson (ORL), Richard Jefferson (UTA), Raymond Felton (NYK) , Al-Farouq Aminu (NO)

Key Losses: Jose Calderon (NYK) Shawn Marion (CLE), Vince Carter (MEM), DeJuan Blair (WAS), Samuel Dalembert (NYK)

The Dallas Mavericks had arguably the best offseason of any team outside of Ohio. After a surprising 2013-14 season in which the Mavericks were the only team to really challenge the Spurs in the Playoffs, Mark Cuban and Co. made their team even better.

The return of veteran Tyson Chandler give them a defensive presence in the post, and Chandler Parsons gives the team someone who can take some of the scoring load off of Dirk Nowitzki. Jameer Nelson and Richard Jefferson bring veterans to a team full of them. Add in Rick Carlisle and the Mavs could make serious noise come Playoff time.

Rick Carlisle thrived with veterans in the past, and this season’s team is full of them at every position. For a team that had a better than expected 2013-14 season, the Mavericks are only going to be even better in 2014-15. (Mark Pace)

3rd Place – Memphis Grizzlies


Last Season: 50-32

2014-15 Projection: 51-31

Key Additions:
Jordan Adams and Vince Carter.

Key Losses: Mike Miller

The Grizzlies are expected to be a playoff team again this season, but it isn’t clear at all if they can get out of the first round. Taking the Thunder to a Game 7 last season showed that they have what it takes to be a threat, but in the Western Conference, being a “threat” isn’t enough.

What should give Grizzlies fans some optimism is the arrival of Vince Carter. Carter is a great addition because he brings three things to the table that the Grizzlies need more of: scoring, three-point shooting, and veteran leadership. Carter averaged 11.9 points per game last season while shooting 39.4% from 3-point range. With the loss of Mike Miller, Carter’s ability to knock down the three-ball will be huge since that has been an area of weakness for them over the years. His raw scoring abilities will also be nice for them since they struggle to score the basketball in general.

As for his veteran leadership, the Grizzlies could really benefit from having another guy to go to in crunch time. Especially in the playoffs. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph need help when it comes to finishing close games. Gasol and Randolph are fantastic, but I think they get tired of having to always close out the games. Having Carter around to take the pressure off should be huge for them. In addition to Carter, the arrival of rookie Joran Adams could be another huge plus for this Grizzlies team since Adams specializes in knocking down threes. He’ll be a nice guy to fill the void left by Mike Miller as another guy who can knock down threes along with Courtney Lee and Vince Carter.

These Grizzlies play a very physical style of basketball that wears teams down with defense and rebounding. It’s a style that works in the playoffs and should once again make them dangerous. It’ll be interesting to see if the additions of Vince Carter and Jordan Adams will make enough of a difference to make them a serious threat to not only win a series, but win the West. (Ben Parker) 

4th Place – Houston Rockets


Last Season: 54-28

2014-15 Projection: 48-34

Key Additions: Trevor Ariza (WAS)

Key Losses: Omer Asik (NO), Chandler Parsons (DAL), Jeremy Lin (LAL), Greg Smith (DAL)

The Houston Rockets had one of the better seasons in the NBA last season. Much hype of a deep playoff run for this team was through the roof. Head Coach Kevin McHale sought a chance to bring the Rockets in the same ring with the likes of the top Western Conference teams and slide their way into the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, Houston met their end in the playoffs with a 1st round exit against the Blazers. Now, is their redemption in the Rockets roster to make a deeper push for this season’s playoffs? One can only hope if you’re a Rockets fan. Also failing to convince then-free agent Carmelo Anthony to don a Rockets uniform hurts. Moving on from that unsuccessful stint is important for this franchise.

It is unlikely Houston will make a big enough impact that will result in a big enough accomplishment. However, the team could muster enough to stick around and clip onto one of the lower playoff seeds.

The loss of Omer Asik and Chandler Parsons to their division rivals (New Orleans and Dallas, respectively) and a little of Jeremy Lin will prove to be a great defeat in some moment of the 2014-2015 season. The Rockets could only buck up a signing of Trevor Ariza from free agency, who is making his triumphant return back to Houston. His presence will be seen at four standing at small forward. James Harden and Dwight Howard are the unquestionable leaders of this squad and Harden made that clear saying they’re the top tiers while everyone else are role players. The undeniable generation of points from Harden (averaged 25.4 PPG last season) is a key piece. That could be an issue in the locker room but we’ll see. Patrick Beverley at the shooting guard is a underrated glimmering light for the Rockets. Howard is in the process of getting his personality and playmaking on straight to be a legitimate five guy in the middle.

Overall, the Rockets can and will make the playoffs but nothing comes easy in the tough as nails western conference and southwest division. (Kevin Smith)

5th Place – New Orleans Pelicans


Last Season: 34-48

2014-15 Projection: 40-42

Key Additions: Omer Asik (HOU), Jimmer Fredette (CHI)

Key Losses: Al-Farouq Aminu (DAL), Brian Roberts (CHA), Jason Smith (NYK), Anthony Morrow (OKC)

The New Orleans Pelicans are very, very close to becoming a relevant team in the big easy once again. It may take another season or two but they are on the right track. An injury to star power forward diminished their chances at making a squeezed playoff run but the overall outcome of the season reflects well into this season. Coach Monty Williams will have fun, young team to lead and project as an up and coming playoff contender.

Rookie of the Year runner-up Davis is quite possibly one of the best young power forwards in the game and at the 4 he is truly a God-given talent. His numbers last season astounding: 20.8 PPG, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game. Backing up Davis is Ryan Anderson, who averaged 19.8 points per game last season which was second best on the team. The acquisition of Omer Asik to start at center gives the Pelicans one of the more young, underrated and dangerous 4-5 guys in the league. Tyreke Evans at small forward fits well into the rotation system New Orleans is testing out. The only concern for the Pelicans is at the guard positions, with potential starters Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon out to make a credible influence. Gordon has the ability to break out into quality scoring performances but his skill set has become a headscrather. And his injury woes are concerning.

If anything is to come of the Pelicans, it is getting better and better every game. And they will certainly be doing that as much as possible. New Orleans is undoubtedly in the right direction of where they want to be. (Kevin Smith)


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