NBA 2019-20 Southwest Division Handicapping Preview (Part II)

Southwest Division (Part II)

The NBA season has arrived, with games due to tip off Oct 22nd, on Tuesday. Bovada has released odds of divisional crowns for the 30 NBA teams, and we are going to handicap that aspect as well as take a quick glance at each team as it enters the 2019-20 season. There are no over/under for season wins currently available for betting on Bovada, but we are going to predict season win totals for each team in the brief synopses of each of the six divisions in the NBA, moving here into the NBA’s Southwest Division, with a look at at the bottom three teams (Part 2).

Dallas (+1100)

With a healthy Kristaps Porzingis joining the fold, the Dallas Mavericks are poised to make a huge turnaround in 2019-20. Of course, the foundation for this turnaround was lied last year by one Luka Doncic, the 2018-19 NBA rookie of the year. Doncic emerged as a strong point-forward in his first NBA season, and pairing him with a much-more-muscled Kristaps Porzingis gives Dallas a shot at becoming the NBA’s most improved team this season. The spots surrounding these two are a lot dicer, limiting the high upside the Mavericks might otherwise have. Delon Wright and Jalen Brunson will ostensibly be the point guards but expect Doncic to handle most of the playmaking.

Former Sacramento Kings draft pick Justin Jackson joins the Mavericks as the starting small forward, but he could see most of those minutes end up being given to reserve Tim Hardaway Jr. Hardaway and Seth Curry both could be big scorers off of the Mavericks’ bench, with Curry returning to Dallas after leading the NBA in three-point percentage while a member of the Portland Trail Blazers a year ago.

Dallas effectively is a few players shy of having a great and competent rotation, but most of the attention this season will be given to see how well Doncic and Porzingis complement one another. Is it a great Euro duo in the making, or will Porzingis suffer further injuries? Will Doncic continue to rise, or did he (improbably) begin his career quite near his eventual peak? For the time being, expect Dallas to make a vast improvement on last season but still likely fall short of the postseason in 2020.

Prediction: 38-44

New Orleans (+1200)

The New Orleans Pelicans have a great reason for excitement, and it all begins with No. 1 overall draft pick Zion Williamson whose strength and athleticism should translate to immediate NBA success. Avoiding the injury bug, however, might be more problematic. With Williamson now schedule to miss “Weeks,” the Pelicans begin its 2019-20 season without the biggest cause for its team excitement. But this is not a roster reliant on Zion. New Orleans has time-tested defender and veteran Jrue Holiday to stabilize its young core, which includes point guard Lonzo Ball and swingman Brandon Ingram, both acquired for the rights to Anthony Davis who finally wanted out of New Orleans after last season’s disappointment.

Ball-Holiday-Ingram could be a great 1/2/3 trio for the Pelicans, as three parts that are all somewhat interchangeable in responsibilities and defensive assignments. Derrick Favors finally left the Utah Jazz and will start at the 5-spot while the team develops Jahlil Okafor and Jaxson Hayes behind him. Hayes is another promising lottery pick whose length and athleticism could render him a defensive monster on this team.

Veteran E’Twaun Moore, for all his shortcomings, is instant offense off the bench, and Frank Jackson has made notable strides as a point guard. Nickeil Alexander-Walker will vie for backup point guards minutes, as well. For a team with little chance at a postseason appearance, the Pelicans have to be pleased with its overall direction following the departure of “The Brow.” While Davis is an immense talent, it never translated to great success for the Pelicans, so with a more well-rounded core now, it hopefully can steer Williamson towards superstardom while adding further pieces in the upcoming seasons to capitalize on his high-end talents.

Prediction: 31-51

Memphis (+15000)

The Memphis Grizzlies are still in the early stages of a rebuild, but it has added great talent in back-to-back drafts and while it will certainly be near the cellar of the Western Conference by season’s end, those in Memphis will be watching to see how Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr develop together—by all accounts the two are the cornerstones of what is being built in Memphis.

The Grizzlies have an assortment of role players outside of those two, but only Brandon Clarke really offers a ton in the “upside column.” The former Gonzaga product is a great athlete who eventually could start next to Jackson–if the Grizzlies develop Jackson into something more of a center. Regardless of the fact they see the same position now, both will get plenty of court time, and the Grizzlies will take the growing pains Morant incurs for the sake of developing its future point guard.

Former Duke Blue Devil Grayson Allen enters his sophomore season after an unimpressive rookie campaign in Utah, but he could be a useful rotation player and potentially even this team’s sixth man in time, though currently that role will be occupied by the defensive-minded and versatile Jae Crowder.

Prediction: 19-63

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