- BetOnline lists the Houston Rockets (-275) as big favorites to win the Southwest after the team reunited Russell Westbrook and James Harden
- The San Antonio Spurs (+450) are tied for the NBA record with 22 consecutive playoff appearances
- The Dallas Mavericks (+800) pair second-year star Luka Doncic with Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis
Zion Williamson’s arrival in the Big Easy immediately makes the Pelicans must-see TV this season. However, New Orleans is still not viewed as division contenders despite drafting the most-hyped NBA prospect since LeBron James and bringing in a handful of promising young players (Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart) in the Anthony Davis trade.
Instead, bookmakers believe a Texas team will win the Southwest. Using the odds at BetOnline, let’s discuss why Houston, San Antonio and even Dallas may have a shot at the division title.
NBA SOUTHWEST DIVISION ODDS
|San Antonio Spurs||+450|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+1000|
THE FAVORITE: HOUSTON ROCKETS
Following a free agency period that brought us more exciting new pairings than eHarmony.com, Houston’s combo of 2017 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook and 2018 NBA MVP James Harden is by far the most intriguing.
Almost seven years after Darryl Morey stole The Beard from Oklahoma City, the Rockets general manager shipped a boatload of picks to the Thunder to dump Chris Paul’s contract and reunite Westbrook with Harden.
.@HoustonRockets GM Daryl Morey says “it’s just factual” James Harden is a better scorer than Michael Jordan. https://t.co/dlqke6ezoP
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) August 16, 2019
While both ball-dominant guards have well-earned reputations as ball hogs, Westbrook’s 10.7 assists per game led the league last season, while Harden finished seventh with 7.5 assists per contest. Oh yeah, and they’ve also combined to win four of the past five scoring titles.
Paired with a strong roster of role players (Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker and Clint Capela), Harden and Russ should easily lead the Rockets to their third-straight division title.
FADED GLORY: SAN ANTONIO SPURS
After bringing five-time NBA champion Tim Duncan back as a coach, head coach Gregg Popovich delivered the quote of the summer: “It is only fitting, that after I served loyally for 19 years as Tim Duncan’s assistant, that he returns the favor.”
The Spurs only other notable offseason moves were re-signing Rudy Gay and acquiring forward DeMarre Carroll from the Nets, however, promising young point guard Dejounte Murray will be returning after a torn ACL kept him out all of last season.
The ? can still get bucketspic.twitter.com/m2dLyrxkQ6
— Air Force Men’s Basketball (@AF_MBB) August 21, 2019
A roster highlighted by LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan likely isn’t enough to reclaim the Southwest, but San Antonio should once again make the playoffs and set an NBA record with their 23rd consecutive postseason appearance.
PROMISING FUTURE: DALLAS MAVERICKS
Not so long ago it looked like Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban would face a painful rebuilding process once Dirk Nowitzki finally retired. But the team’s future is now full of promise after drafting reigning Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic in 2018 and acquiring 7’3” unicorn Kristaps Porzingis from the Knicks.
Prior to tearing his ACL during the 2017-18 season, Porzingis was averaging 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game in New York. If the 24-year old Latvian can return to form, he’ll provide the perfect complement to Doncic, who last year became the first rookie (and just the 15th player since 1980) to average 20 points, six rebounds and six assists in a season.
Could the Mavericks arrive ahead of schedule behind the talent of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis? https://t.co/Ax2WmV5Ikp
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 20, 2019
With an above-average supporting cast (Tim Hardaway Jr., Seth Curry, Delon Wright), the Mavericks are well positioned to earn their first postseason berth in four years, but they’re still unlikely to win their first division title in a decade.