NBA 2022 Southwest Division Preview: Young Guns Enter MVP Battle

Oct 15, 2022

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Due to the presence of some of the NBA’s top players, the Southwest Division is expected to be very competitive this season. In 2021–2022, Zion Williamson was the talk of the league, and Luka Doncic and Ja Morant were both named to the All–NBA team.

Grizzlies are the best team

Dallas and Memphis missing the playoffs would need a major mishap. The Mavericks advanced to the Western Conference Finals last season, and the Grizzlies finished with the second-best record in the conference. Although both teams lost some important players over the offseason — De’Anthony Melton and Kyle Anderson for the Grizzlies, and Jalen Brunson for the Mavericks — they ought to be back in the mix.

A core of CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, and Williamson should be dynamite, though the Pelicans have more problems than the Grizzlies and Mavericks have. They might be contenders for a top-six seed, health permitting.

Although the Rockets have a talented young core, they are still a ways away from making the postseason.

The Spurs, on the other hand, might end up with the league’s worst record.

Luka Doncic of the Mavericks is the best player

In his four seasons in the NBA, Doncic has been selected for three All-Star games and three All-NBA First Teams. Every time he steps foot on an NBA court, he is a danger to record a 30-point triple-double, and he recently led the Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals.

Because he already has a response to almost anything teams can throw at him, it is unsettling to believe that Doncic can still improve. He is a walking cheat code due of his skill given his size.

Rockets’ Jabari Smith Jr. is the best rookie

For the NBA of today, Smith is the perfect big man. In college, he made 42.0 percent of his 5.5 3-point tries, and he has the length and mobility to cover all five spots. If Smith improves his ball handling and becomes more at ease creating his own shot, Kyle Irving, a draft analyst for TSN, believes he may become a dependable All-Star.

From a talent standpoint, the Mavericks’ acquisition of Wood is highly commendable. His averages per game since breaking out with the Pistons in 2019–20 are 19.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.0 blocks. He can do enough off the bounce to partially offset Brunson’s loss, and he is a smooth 3-point shooter who should complement Doncic like a glove.

On a Mavericks team with high expectations, it remains to be seen if Wood can make a difference. Dallas will want to contend as long as Doncic is present, and Wood’s clubs up to this point in his career haven’t had a winning record.

In Dallas, Wood’s defense might be the key to his success. In the first year Jason Kidd was in charge, the Mavericks improved from 21st to 7th in defensive efficiency. Despite a lack of consistency, Wood has the potential to be a significant defender. He will be expected to do much more on that side of the Dallas floor.

Despite being only 6-foot-6, Williamson possesses more speed, power, and athleticism than any player in the NBA. He is too strong for any guard to have a chance of keeping him out of the paint, and he is too quick for most power forwards and centers to stay in front of him. He is genuinely unlike anything we have ever seen.

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