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NBA 2023 offseason grades: Southwest Division

Grant Williams Celtics

NBA Southwest Division
(Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports)

NBA 2023 offseason grades: Southwest Division

Training camps are just around the corner and with the off-season all but wrapped up, let’s hand out some grades to NBA teams for their work over the past few months. Today we’re tackling the Southwest Division.

As always, we give a thankful nod to Hoopshype, whose diligence in collating NBA player movements makes it so easy for us writers.

In case you missed it, we’ve already assessed the Atlantic, Northwest and Central divisions. We’ll take a look at the Southeast Division in a few days’ time.

Now let’s dive into our Southwest division offseason grades!

Dallas Mavericks: A

Major additions:

Major subtractions:

The Mavericks late season flameout (admittedly, somewhat by design) saw them in a position to draft a potentially perfect centre for Luka Doncic in Lively and the evolutionary Dorian Finney-Smith in the man known only as O-Max.

Dallas also brought in an elite role player in Williams, a man who will likely close games for the Mavs. Seth Curry has a positive track record with Luka. If he can stay healthy he’s a fine addition. In former lottery flameout Dante Exum, the Mavs picked up a very good backup point guard with size, defensive chops, athleticism and a much-improved jump shot. He’ll surprise anyone who hasn’t kept abreast of his career in Europe.

All of those added are upgrades on who Dallas let go. O-Max is an upgrade on Bullock. Curry plays a different position, but he’s a better shooter than Bertans. Exum is a huge improvement over Frankie Smokes. As a rookie, Lively should be better than the washed McGee.

An excellent off-season. Will it matter, though? That depends on Luka and Kyrie.

Houston Rockets: A+

Major additions:

Major subtractions:

Yes, the Rockets reshaped their playing list this off-season, though their most important addition was culture setting (though maybe cancel Bring Your Wife To Work Day) head coach Ime Udoka.

Udoka’s presence should instantly instill a notion of responsibility and accountability in a Rockets locker room that was sadly lacking such traits. His generals on the floor will be championship-winning former Raptor VanVleet and all-world defender Brooks. Sure, Brooks comes with certain cartoonish foibles but it can’t be denied that he’ll add an edge to the Rockets’ previously non-existent defense

In the draft, the Rockets picked up one of the most impressive athletic specimens in the hoops world in Amen Thompson, a do-it-all defender and playmaker who, if his jumper ever develops, has All NBA potential. In nabbing Cam Whitmore at pick 20, they might have gotten the steal of the draft.

Memphis Grizzlies: B+

Major addition:

Major subtractions:

Bringing in Smart was a fantastic move for the Grizzlies. He covers Ja Morant’s early season absence, slots in as a replacement for Jones when Morant does play and becomes the primary wing/guard defensive option replacing Brooks. Getting one player in to cover the work of three also clarifies the roles of some of the deeper bench talents that Memphis possesses

A perfect win-win-win.

New Orleans Pelicans: C+

Major additions:

Major subtractions

A low-key off-season for the Pellies was headlined by the late lottery selection of Hawkins, a lovely addition as a knockdown shooter who should dovetail well with Herbert Jones, each covering for the others’ deficiencies.

With Zion Williamson still an iffy proposition, the Pelicans remain a deep, talented roster in need of a centrepiece. It wouldn’t shock this writer if New Orleans was the surprise player in a blockbuster trade at some point in the next 12 months.

San Antonio Spurs: A

Major additions:

Major subtractions:

The Spurs shocked nobody in quickly taking generational prospect Victor Wembanyama with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Frankly, if they had stopped there, they would still have been awarded an A. San Antonio added a pair of solid, culture-setting professionals in Bullock and Osman to help support their talented young in Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson.  

What do you think about our Southwest division grades? Let us know in the comments!

***

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