With all the talk about the playoffs and conference play, division rankings seem to be completely overlooked nowadays. Even though division rankings don’t determine playoff seedings and are more for bragging rights than anything else, I thought it would be fun to see where the Mavs place in their division.
As we all should know, the Dallas Mavericks are in the Southwest Division along with the Houston rockets, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, and the Memphis Grizzlies. This is easily one of the strongest if not the strongest division(s) in the NBA. If you don’t think so, remember that last season the Dallas Mavericks finished with a 49-33 record but placed 4th in the division, not to mention that half of the Western Conference’s playoffs teams came from the Southwest division.
This season, the Southwest division will most likely be very similar to last year’s in regards to playoff teams and might even be stronger than it has been in previous years. With the Spurs and Grizzlies staying strong, and the Mavericks gaining a substantial amount of talent in the two Chandlers and other key off-season moves, it makes you wonder, “Who will come out on top this year?”
1st: San Antonio Spurs
As much as it pains me to say it, finishing first in the Southwest division will be the San Antonio Spurs. It is impossible to argue with the results that this team has achieved last season and the fact that they haven’t made any noteworthy roster changes since last year’s title.
2nd: Dallas Mavericks
With the additions of Chandler Parsons, Tyson Chandler, Jameer Nelson, and some promising bench players they added this off-season, the Mavericks are poised to be a great team. I can’t leave out Rick Carlisle, who maximizes the talent of his players every single season. I am also anxious to see the 2nd season of Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki playing together.
3rd: Houston Rockets
Even though it would make me happier to put them in last place, I have to give the Rockets some credit. James Harden and Dwight Howard will be able to carry their team full of “role players” to a 3rd-place spot. Now, where they stand in the Western Conference is a different subject. The pressure is the highest it has ever been for the two superstars. The organization lost one starter and two former starters/rotation players (Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik) to pursue a third superstar to go with Harden and Howard. They failed at the plan and ended up with only Trevor Ariza.
4th: Memphis Grizzlies
The reason being that they haven’t improved much and will still be a middle-of-the-pack team in the division. They added Vince Carter to provide instant offense and playmaking as a sixth man or starting small forward, but being a year older and on a new team, it might take some time to make a huge impact.
5th: New Orleans Pelicans
They just aren’t ready to compete with the likes of the Spurs or the Mavericks and will most likely land in the 5th spot. They will be in a few years with Anthony Davis becoming of the elite players in the NBA, season by season. They could be the surprising team in the NBA this upcoming season if everyone is healthy (Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, and Ryan Anderson). With the addition of Omer Asik, they will be an improved team. They have a very bright future, but being in the toughest division and conference in the NBA might hold them back from their true potential.
Even though I did not predict the Mavericks to finish first in the division, that doesn’t mean that Dallas will have a bad year. A second-place finish in the Southwest Division this season will most likely correlate with a record of 50+ wins and a home court advantage in the playoffs. Second place is something to be proud of in this division.