The Southwest Division is perhaps the strongest from top to bottom and had four 50-win teams. Add to that they have the youngest team in the league and this division could be perhaps the best to watch in the entire league.
2008-2009 Record: 58-24
2007-2008 Record: 56-26
The San Antonio Spurs have been the class of the NBA for the last 10 years and are always a threat to win the whole thing. Manu Ginobili will be out for all of November and most of December, but they should have plenty of fire power to threaten for the top seed in the Western Conference. Look for the Spurs to coast through the regular season, as usual, to be ready for the postseason. They will have to fend off the young and feisty Hornets for the Southwest Division crown.
2008-2009 Record: 54-28
2007-2008 Record: 56-26
The Hornets quickly became the bandwagon team of the 07-08 season as Chris Paul became the league’s best point guard right before our eyes. With two good big men in David West and Tyson Chandler, two sweet stroking shooters in Peja Stojakovic and Morris Peterson and the best 6th man a team could ask for in James Posey, this team could easily be the #1 team in the entire conference, and perhaps the league. If Chris Paul takes yet another step forward, which would be scary for the rest of the league, look for this team to take home the Larry O’Brien trophy within the next two to three years.
2008-2009 Record: 53-29
2007-2008 Record: 55-27
This could be the best team, talent wise, in the entire division, but can they stay healthy both physically and mentally? Tracy McGrady, one of the best players in the entire league when healthy, can’t seem to stay on the court and news has come out that he already needs surgery on his back when the season ends. Yao Ming has become a dominant big man but has had a couple injury plagued seasons too. The addition of Ron Artest gives this team a legitimate third option and yet another top-tier defensive wingman to play along side the ultimate glue-guy in Shane Battier. Add to that two great role players at power forward in Luis Scola and Chuck Hayes and this team has got some great players in place for a championship run. Now if they could just figure out their point guard position…
2008-2009 Record: 52-30
2007-2008 Record: 51-31
An off-season of turmoil between the firing of Avery Johnson and the shenanigans of Josh Howard and I still see this team improving by one game. They get their defensive center back in Diop, give Jason Kidd another year to gel with the team (on a contract year as well) and hopefully Dirk can get back to his MVP self. In the end, I don’t see enough bench help or defense for this team to really challenge for the division, let alone the NBA title.
2008-2009 Record: 21-61
2007-2008 Record: 22-60
The Memphis Grizzles are perhaps the youngest team in all the league and that will definitely show this year as they will struggle for wins throughout the season. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have some great young players in place for a long time. Rudy Gay is a budding all-star and the Grizzlies should do all they can to lock him up long-term. Hakim Warrick and Marc Gasol are good young big men and if one of them can develop into a quality starter that would be huge for this squad. The team has three very young point guards in Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley and Javaris Crittenton. It would be foolish if one of these kids weren’t moved in the very near future. Add to this core the fact that on draft night the Griz traded Kevin Love to Minnesota for OJ Mayo and you have another terrific, young playmaker in the making. This team will be fun to watch this year and, if kept together, could make some rumblings in the West in a few years.