Will the San Antonio Spurs now be challenged for the Southwest division title based on other teams’ offseason moves?
When the San Antonio Spurs take the floor every season there are two things likely to happen: they will make the playoffs and they will win the Southwest division title in the Western Conference. San Antonio has won 22 division championships in their history and since 1999 they have won it all but six times. However, the question is: will San Antonio now face a real challenge in their division this year based on how the offseason has panned out?
The biggest threats in the Southwest that pop out are the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies. Both of these teams are talented and could give the Spurs fits during the regular season.
The Rockets made the biggest splash during the offseason when they acquired guard Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers in a trade that sent Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Lou Williams, other role players and cash considerations to Houston. James Harden is coming off of another MVP candidate season and is looking to bounce back after struggling in Game 6 of the Conference Semifinals against the Spurs. Ryan Anderson and Clint Capella are returning starters and played well last year in the playoffs. While there have been questions as to how Harden and Paul will get along in terms of sharing the ball, this team still looks very dangerous on paper and should compete for the Southwest division.
The Memphis Grizzlies lose Zach Randolph in the offseason, who signed with Sacramento, but return most of their core and a few new solid additions. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are two of the best players in the game today and pushed San Antonio to six games in the first round last year. They also bring back Chandler Parsons and Tony Allen, two key role players. They also signed guards Tyreke Evans and Mario Chalmers who can contribute right away. Heach coach David Fizdale’s passion and care for his players could make Memphis a contender for the division this year.
The New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks are on the rise but still have a ways to. New Orleans traded for DeMarcus Cousins at the deadline last year to pair with Anthony Davis. The Mavericks are in rebuilding mode with Dirk Nowitski in his final years. They drafted Dennis Smith Jr. in the first round, but it could be a few years until Dallas challenges for the division.
While San Antonio should still be considered the favorite to win the Southwest, nothing is guaranteed. Houston and Memphis both pushed the Spurs to their limits in the playoffs last year and could win quite a few divisional games this coming year. Winning the division would pay off for the Spurs in the playoffs if they face Houston or Memphis.