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NBA Offseason Grades: Southwest Division


NBA Offseason Grades: Southwest Division

It is once again time to take a look back at the NBA offseason and grade how each team have performed.

We’ve already taken a look at the Atlantic division, the Northwest and Southeast. This time we again head to the Western Conference, exploring the Southwest division.

Dallas Mavericks: D+

12 or so months ago, the Mavericks had the opportunity to offer Jalen Brunson a maximum extension offer of $55 million over four years; they instead made that same offer to Dorian Finney-Smith. Now the Mavs have had to watch helplessly as Brunson doubled his money on his way out the door to the New York Knicks this offseason.

Dallas are surely betting that Spencer Dinwiddie can fill Brunson’s shoes, which … OK. Maybe Finney-Smith and the returning Tim Hardaway Jr. can add some handles and playmaking, though their history suggests otherwise. Jaden Hardy could prove to be a steal at pick 37, though he won’t be a day-to-day contributor as a rookie.

The Mavs made a great trade in stealing Christian Wood from the Rockets for assorted flotsam and jetsam. Wood gives Luka Doncic the most versatile offensive big man he’s ever played with. He provides the shooting that Kristaps Porzingis did, along with the rim running of Dwight Powell. Great move!

Dallas undid all of their good work by then signing 34-year-old career reserve JaVale McGee to a three-year deal and confirming that he would be their starter. This muddies the water somewhat. Wood is too good to be a reserve. McGee, who has turned himself into a solid NBA player after a rough start to his career, has rarely shown himself to be a starter level player for a good NBA team. And where does this leave former starter Dwight Powell, now presumed to be the third string centre?

In other news, the Mavs signed the delightfully monikered McKinley Wright IV and Mouhamadou Gueye, who this writer is sure plays defensive midfield for Paris Saint-Germain.

Houston Rockets: A-

Th Rockets continued their rebuild by adding a trio of very interesting draftees.

Houston took Jabari Smith Jr. at pick three. The Auburn product projects as a complimentary star, who’s combination of shooting and defense should perfectly compliment Jalen Green perfectly. Watching the two of them develop over the next few years will be awfully fun.

At pick 17, Tari Eason was a home run. The 21-year-old is a prototypical modern wing with size, speed and athleticism. Houston also nabbed TyTy Washington with the last pick of round one. Washington is lightning fast, an excellent shooter and possesses quick hands on defense. He could be the steal of the draft.

To clear space for their army of youngsters, the Rockets traded Wood to Dallas and waived John Wall.

Memphis Grizzlies: B-

On the surface, Memphis got objectively worse in the offseason. Losing key role players in Kyle Anderson (Minnesota) and De’Anthony Melton (Philadelphia) can’t help but weaken the Grizzlies side. In addition, injury will see star centre Jaren Jackson Jr. will be sidelined for the first few months of the season.

That said, last season Memphis were probably the deepest team in the entire NBA, legitimately fielding 13 players worthy of NBA rotation minutes. That depth allowed the Grizz to cover just about any absence, including star man Ja Morant, with a minimum of fuss. With four draft picks coming in – including first rounders Jake LaRavia and David Roddy – something had to give.

The team’s offseason moves will give players previously buried on the bench a chance to flourish. Xavier Tillman will receive more front court minutes. LaRavia and Zaire Williams will be given every chance to impress. John Konchar will have the opportunity to cement a bigger role with Melton out of the picture.

On the contract front, Memphis extended Morant and Tyus Jones – arguably the best point guard duo in the NBA – to long-term deals.

New Orleans Pelicans: A

The Pelicans emerged from the play-in tournament to push the Suns all the way in their first round matchup. It makes you wonder what this team could have been without that gawd-awful start and with Zion Williamson. That strong finish to the season clearly dictated terms for the New Orleans front office, who chose not to make any significant changes to the roster.

The work they did do this offseason, though, was strong.

The headline is the extension handed to Williamson. Zion received a max deal though, understandably, the contract is laden with appearance and performance based protections. Also – crucially – Williamson didn’t receive a player option on the final year of the deal.

In the draft New Orleans made a pair of strong picks. With the eighth selection, they nabbed Australian guard Dyson Daniels (an aside, this writer was the commentator for Daniels first pro game in Australia in 2019, when Daniels was just 16 years old) who, with Herb Jones, could form a devastating defensive combination. Their second round selection, EJ Liddell, looked a steal before he ruptured his ACL in the preseason.

San Antonio Spurs: A-

Well, if the tank wasn’t on beforehand, it most certainly is now.

San Antonio kicked off their offseason by unloading their one star in Dejounte Murray, to Atlanta for three first round picks – the very definition of selling high (Murray made his first All Star game last season as the second injury replacement). The trade also opened up around $30 million in cap space for the Spurs, making them a prime location for salary dumps (Greetings, Mr Westbrook) throughout the season. They also let the talented but maddeningly inconsistent Lonnie Walker IV walk to the Lakers as a free agent.

The Spurs went for big swings in the draft, taking the uber athletic Jeremy Sochan at pick nine, a professional scorer in Malaki Branham and a speedster in Blake Wesley. All three will be just 19 years old when the season starts. San Antonio also went for untapped potential in the 24-year-old Isaiah Roby, formerly of Oklahoma City.

The Spurs will likely be one of the worst teams in the NBA next season as they – for the first time in coach Gregg Popovich’s long tenure – embrace the rebuild.


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