NBA 2021 Southwest Division Preview

Story posted October 19, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Jonathan Draeger

The NBA kicks off its 75th Anniversary season, with fans entering the stands in full capacity and many more COVID-19 guidelines put into effect.

As the fans enter their respective arenas, they will get their chance to see some future stars and rising rookies, especially in the Southwest Division. As the opening tipoff draws near, here are some names and teams to watch for in the Southwest Division.

Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks have a sour taste in their mouths after blowing a 3-1 series lead in the first round of the NBA Playoffs to the Los Angeles Clippers. Looking ahead to this season, it’s either title or bust.

On offense, it starts with their franchise player: Luka Doncic. After shocking the world by taking Slovenia to the bronze medal game of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Doncic wants to add onto his resume after putting up 28.8 points per game, 8.8 assists per game and 9.4 rebounds per game.

Surrounding him features some key players with different aspects. As the big man, Kristaps Porzingis looked rough in the postseason, but he, along with sharpshooter Reggie Bullock and forward Tim Hardaway Jr. provide added value to Doncic’s play.

Houston Rockets

After a season full of tension, trades and sadness in Houston, the Rockets have something to look forward to with their prosperous youth. It all started in the NBA Draft where they won the second overall selection.

With that selection, they took Jalen Green of the G League Ignite team, who averaged 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists. Alongside Green, they acquired Kevin Porter Jr. from the Cleveland Cavaliers who had personal issues with the personnel in the front office.

As for the rest of their depth, Houston has some key players out with injury. With Eric Gordon and Danuel House Jr. getting some rest, the Rockets are going to be in for a rocky ride.

Memphis Grizzlies

In Memphis, the fans are excited for the resurgence of the Grizzlies. After breezing through the play-in in last year’s playoffs, only to lose to the Utah Jazz in the first round, Ja Morant and company look to make some noise.

The support cast for Morant consists of  Jaren Jackson Jr. and  Dillon Brooks, who both averaged over 14 points per game last season. Additionally, in a trade with the Boston Celtics, the Grizzlies acquired more depth at guard with Kris Dunn.

With how the Western Conference is shaping up, Memphis looks to sneak into the playoffs again. With their youthful depth and veteran experience, the Grizzlies could find themselves as a dark horse candidate.

New Orleans Pelicans

In their second year of the Zion Williamson experiment, the New Orleans Pelicans look to create chaos in the Western Conference. But the Pelicans take on a new look.

After adding Steven Adams last year, the executive board decided to make some trades. In lieu of the departures of Lonzo Ball and JJ Redick, New Orleans acquired Jonas Valanciunas and Devonte Graham to bolster their depth.

After falling short of the postseason, the Pelicans, led by Williamson and Brandon Ingram, look to find themselves squeaking their way into the playoffs. If not, the management may be in for a whirlwind of a change.

San Antonio Spurs

After falling short of the playoffs, head coach Gregg Popovich and company look to find a way to continue their winning ways since the departure of their dynasty core. Their lineup may be lackluster, but the talent is there.

Holding down the fort is Dejounte Murray, followed by Doug McDermott, Keldon Johnson and Lonnie Walker IV. All four players managed to average double-digit points last season, creating threats on the perimeter and in the lane.

For the team, they want the playoffs in their sights. If not, the end of an era may ensue for Popovich.

 

Jonathan Draeger is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at jrd6052@psu.edu.