The Southwest Division was a mess last year, with the Rockets and Spurs both being awful, the Pelicans mired in injury issues, the Grizzlies dealing with controversy on and off the court, and the Mavericks disappointing in epic fashion. Will the Southwest Division be any better in the 2024 NBA season?

Memphis Grizzlies

Additions: Marcus Smart, Derrick Rose, Josh Christopher, Isaiah Todd

Subtractions: Tyus Jones, Dillon Brooks, Vince Williams Jr.

Other: Signed Desmond Bane to a 5 year $207M extension, Ja Morant will miss the first 25 games due to suspension

Outlook: While the Grizzlies did not make many moves this offseason, the ones they did make – trading Tyus Jones and picks for Marcus Smart and then letting Dillon Brooks walk in free agency – were big ones. Jones was a rock for the Grizzlies, the best backup point guard in the NBA and a capable fill-in when Ja Morant was out. Dillon Brooks, despite his flaws and issues, was a strong wing defender and someone who imbued their team with some spirit. However, the Grizzlies clearly decided they needed a shake-up on the court and in the locker room, and enter Marcus Smart, a player who combines Jones’ playmaking with Brooks’ defense – and adds locker room leadership in spades. Morant missing the first 25 games is going to hurt the Grizzlies, as will Brandon Clarke’s absence as he continues to recover from his torn Achilles, but Smart, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr. should be enough to keep the Griz afloat in the meantime. I continue to really like this roster, though the depth has eroded significantly from a couple years ago unless some of their younger players pop. If the Griz can mature and stay healthy, they should be very good.

Prediction: 50-32 (Last year predicted 49-33, actually 51-31)

Dallas Mavericks

Additions: Grant Williams, Richaun Holmes, Dereck Lively II (12th pick in 2023 Draft), Seth Curry, Dante Exum, Olivier Maxence-Prosper (24th pick in 2023 Draft), Mike Miles Jr. (Two-way)

Subtractions: Christian Wood, Reggie Bullock, Davis Bertans, Frank Ntilikina, Theo Pinson, McKinley Wright IV, Justin Holiday, Markieff Morris

Other: Re-signed Kyrie Irving to a 3 year $126M deal, Re-signed Dwight Powell to 3 year $12M deal

Outlook: The Mavs had one of the most clearly positive offseasons of any team in the NBA. No, I would not feel great marrying my team to Kyrie Irving, but that’s a decision the Mavs made last trade deadline, and they had to bring him back – and they got a good deal for him under the new CBA. The rest of the roster is upgraded well, with the Mavs strengthening their role players and adding a couple rookies who should be able to contribute fairly quickly. The Mavs still don’t have a third star or even really any other clear starting level talents – their next best players after Luka and Kyrie are probably Grant Williams and Tim Hardaway Jr – but they should have enough depth and star talent to be in the playoff mix.

Prediction: 46-36 (Last year predicted 48-34, actually 38-44)

New Orleans Pelicans

Additions: Jordan Hawkins (14th pick of 2023 Draft), Cody Zeller

Subtractions: Josh Richardson, Garrett Temple, Jaxson Hayes

Other: Re-signed Herb Jones to 4 year $54M deal, Re-signed E.J. Liddell to 3 year $6.3M deal

Outlook: The Pelicans are running back nearly the same team as last year, with the main adjustments being swapping out Hayes for Zeller as backup big men and adding Hawkins in the draft as a ready-made shooter. The Pelicans, therefore, face the same conundrum they’ve faced throughout the Zion era – when he’s healthy, they’re very, very good. When he’s not, they’re just ok. That’s true of most teams and their stars, but few players have had as severe a time as Zion in staying health, especially so early in their careers. If Zion can’t get or stay healthy this year, it seems like the whole team might be blown up next summer. If Zion can stay healthy, the Pelicans have a decent shot at homecourt in the playoffs. That’s how dominant the big man has been when he’s actually played. More upside can be gleaned from Trey Murphy III, Herb Jones, and even guys like Jose Alvarado and Naji Marshall, but everything rests on Zion’s broad shoulders.

Prediction: 44-38 (Last year predicted 45-37, actually 42-40)

Houston Rockets

Additions: Fred VanVleet, Dillon Brooks, Amen Thompson (4th pick in 2023 Draft), Cam Whitmore (20th pick in 2023 Draft), Jock Landale, Jeff Green, Aaron Holiday, Jermaine Samuels (Two-way)

Subtractions: Kenyon Martin Jr., Usman Garuba, Josh Christopher, Daishen Nix, TyTy Washington, Boban Marjanovic, Frank Kaminsky

Other: Brought Ime Udoka in as head coach to replace Stephen Silas

Outlook: The Rockets have not just been bad for years but have been a mess on the court. To remedy this, owner Tilman Fertitta and GM Rafael Stoen decided to bring in Ime Udoka as head coach and a series of veterans, with the bulk of the money going to VanVleet and Brooks. Those guys will definitely bring cohesion to the Rockets on offense and defense respectively, which is important for young guys to thrive. Will the Rockets actually be good though? It seems unlikely unless some of their prospects make the leap from promising youngsters to positive impact NBA players. Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun are certainly talented players on offense, and I love Amen Thompson, but they still seem like a year or two away.

Prediction: 28-54 (Last year predicted 23-59, actually 22-60)

San Antonio Spurs

Additions: Victor Wembanyama (1st Pick in 2023 Draft), Sidy Cissoko (44th pick in 2023 Draft), Reggie Bullock, Cedi Osman, Cameron Payne, Sir’Jabari Rice (Two-way)

Subtractions: Keita Bates-Diop, Romeo Langford, Isaiah Roby, Gorgui Dieng, Stanley Johnson

Other: Re-signed Tre Jones to a 2 year $19M contract

Outlook: The Spurs, unlike the Rockets, are slow playing their rebuild – though they are much earlier in their youth movement. However, they made what should be a franchise-altering pick with Victor Wembanyama, the 19-year-old, 7’5 French phenom who some regard as the best prospect since LeBron. While I wouldn’t go that far, Victor should be an immediate help at least on the defensive end, and can provide rim rolling and offensive rebounding as well. Outside of Wemby, the Spurs mostly just made some changes on the margins, though they did add a few vets who could help them win some games. Still, their roster is young, they aren’t going to rush things with Wemby, and Devin Vassell is probably their closest thing to a win-now player unless Wemby really, really pops right away. They’ll be bad, but they should be very entertaining.

Prediction: 26-56 (Last year predicted 26-56, actually 22-60)

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