Many different teams in the Western Conference went for broke this offseason, adding superstars in a quest for the NBA championship in 2019-20. The Houston Rockets were right in the middle of that action, pulling off a blockbuster trade for Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook. Houston dealt Chris Paul and a bunch of draft picks for Westbrook, who will be paired up with James Harden in an attempt to bring the title to Houston. First things first for the Rockets will be winning the Southwest Division, and that seems very likely to happen. The oddsmakers have pegged Houston as the heavy favorite to capture the division in the 2019-20 regular season.
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- Houston Rockets -294
- San Antonio Spurs +488
- New Orleans Pelicans +870
- Dallas Mavericks +1045
- Memphis Grizzlies +9500
Southwest Division Odds Analysis
Harden and Westbrook have both won the league MVP award, so there is no questioning the individual talent that each player possesses. They were former teammates in Oklahoma City and believe they will work well together with the Rockets. Both players have been very ball-dominant in the past few seasons and it will be interesting to watch how they co-exist. The supporting cast in Houston is solid. Eric Gordon will be the third scoring option, while Clint Capela and P.J. Tucker are a pair of nice defensive pieces, which should help when Westbrook and Harden eschew that end of the floor.
The San Antonio Spurs are the team that seems to have the most likely shot at dethroning the Rockets in the Southwest Division this season. San Antonio was not great a year ago after dealing a disgruntled Kawhi Leonard to the Raptors. Leonard won the title and the Spurs were only decent with DeMar DeRozan, his replacement, leading the way. DeRozan will aim to take a step forward this season while LaMarcus Aldridge will once again be the go-to guy down in the post. San Antonio still has the best coach in the NBA in Gregg Popovich and some nice pieces, but the lack of a superstar to lead the way will seemingly limit this team’s ceiling.
The New Orleans Pelicans are a longshot to win the division after dealing superstar center Anthony Davis to the Lakers in the offseason. Davis was unhappy with the team and wanted out, so getting back Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and a host of draft picks was a pretty good return for the Pelicans, all things considered. They will aim to join Jrue Holiday and some of the other holdovers to help this team be competitive, but it would be a surprise to see the Pelicans hang with the Rockets or even the Spurs.
The Dallas Mavericks are an interesting team. They have been mediocre for awhile but there is hope that the pairing of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis will get this team back to the NBA playoffs soon. It might be a year early as the Mavs don’t have great depth. However, owner Mark Cuban is known for wanting to win badly, and if this team is competitive near the trading deadline it could get some reinforcements.
The worst team in the Southwest Division is likely to be the Memphis Grizzlies. They have been a competitive outfit for quite awhile but dealt both Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, signaling a reboot. Ja Morant was the No. 2 overall pick in the draft and should be a nice player, but there is very little around him.
Nobody is going to fault a bettor for taking the Rockets, who are clearly the best team on paper. However, if Harden and Westbrook don’t mesh, it could open the door for another team. The Mavericks are the most intriguing among the longshots because of the duo of Doncic and Porzingis. Dallas is worth a wager as such underdogs to win the Southwest Division in 2018-19.
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