When it comes to the Southwest Division, a battle of the tried-and-true old guard vs a flashy, sharpshooting team could make for the most exciting divisional race the NBA has seen in quite some time.
The San Antonio Spurs, aka the most consistent franchise in the four main professional sports, have been tabbed as the slight -110 favorites to win the division at Bovada. The Houston Rockets come in right behind them at +110, while the New Orleans Pelicans (+2000), Memphis Grizzlies (+3300) and Dallas Mavericks (+5000) are well back of the pack at the shop.
With a starting lineup of Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol, the Spurs certainly aren’t lacking veteran leadership. The front office dipped into free agency by signing Rudy Gay to provide some needed secondary scoring, and even longtime fan favorite Manu Ginobili decided to skip retirement and sign another contract to come back to the only team he’s ever known.
On the heels of a 61-21 campaign, San Antonio easily claimed the Northwest a year ago and dispatched the Grizzlies and Rockets before getting swept by the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals. An injury to Leonard in Game 1 of that series served as the final nail in the coffin for Gregg Popovich and company, yet another sign of how important the small forward is to the Spurs.
The Rockets looked like a completely different squad in Mike D’Antoni’s first year at the helm, as James Harden’s transition to point guard was about as seamless as it could be. Houston jacked up three-pointers at an unprecedented rate and connected on a ton of them, causing the rest of the league to take notice in the process.
Houston stole the show prior to free agency by acquiring unhappy superstar Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers in a blockbuster deal, giving the Rockets a ridiculously talented backcourt with Paul and Harden in the fold. It remains to be seen how the duo fare in their first campaign playing together, but they have a very realistic chance to catch the Spurs, and the +110 value certainly won’t be there anymore if Houston once again catches fire out of the gate.
To say the Pelicans, Grizzlies and Mavericks have some serious work to do in order to go toe to toe with the Spurs and Rockets is an understatement. Such is life in the brutal Western Conference.
|San Antonio Spurs||-110|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+2000|
Odds as of October 4 at Bovada
The San Antonio Spurs are the undisputed favorites to win the NBA Southwest Division this season. In other news, the sky is blue and grass is green.
The NBA’s model franchise is once again ahead of the pack in odds lists, as BetOnline has tabbed the Spurs as heavy -600 chalk to earn the bragging rights. The Houston Rockets (+400) and Memphis Grizzlies (+8000) were the only other available options at the shop since New Orleans and Dallas are toiling in the basement of the Western Conference.
As of January 24, the Spurs were only three games above the Rockets at 35-9. San Antonio has won the Southwest in five of the last six years.
If the Spurs stumble down the stretch, a wager on Houston at +400 would be extremely lucrative. Under Mike D’Antoni’s offense, the Rockets have once again risen up the Western Conference standings this season and look like legitimate championship contenders.
While Houston’s defense can be lax at times, it’s the offense that puts the Rockets in a league of their own. The Rockets currently rank second behind only the Warriors in points per game (114.5) and fire the 3-pointer at a ridiculous rate. James Harden has emerged as an MVP front-runner, and it wouldn’t be much of a shock to see his Rockets dethrone the mighty Spurs when all is said and done.
|San Antonio Spurs||-600|
Odds as of January 24 at BetOnline
The San Antonio Spurs have owned the Southwest Division for seemingly forever, and the NBA’s model franchise is once again in the driver’s seat this season.
The Spurs, who sat atop the Southwest with a 14-4 record as of November 30, are heavy -1500 chalk to win the division at BetOnline. The Houston Rockets (+800), Memphis Grizzlies (+1800), Dallas Mavericks (+25000) and New Orleans Pelicans (+25000) round out the rest of the list.
San Antonio has quietly been going about its business while other teams like the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers hog the spotlight. That’s exactly how Gregg Popovich’s club likes it. Paced by two-way superstar Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs rank sixth in the NBA in points allowed (98.4). Simply put, the Spurs aren’t going away any time soon.
The Rockets (11-7) have been a pleasant surprise, and their odds have improved since the start of the campaign when they were listed at +1200. Houston has been getting it done with offense, having failed to eclipse the 100-point mark just three times through 18 games.
James Harden and company aren’t going to light the world on fire defensively, but they are averaging 109.3 points per game (fourth-best in the NBA) while shooting 46.5 percent from the field (third-best). The Rockets look like a playoff contender again, but it’s going to be a tall order for them to dethrone the mighty Spurs.
Memphis is a team that seems to get bit by the injury bug year in and year out, and it’s struck again in the 2016-17 campaign. The Grizzlies are technically second in the Southwest at 11-7, but losing Mike Conley for an extended period of time is going to greatly hurt their chances going forward.
|San Antonio Spurs||-750|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+2500|
Odds as of November 30 at BetOnline
The NBA’s Southwest Division used to be known for its competitiveness, but those days appear to be gone.
The San Antonio Spurs, who have made the playoffs for an amazing 19 straight seasons, are hefty -750 chalk at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook to win the Southwest this year. The Spurs never seem to go away; they simply retool and come back stronger than before.
That’s the case with the current bunch. Future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan rode off into the sunset in the offseason, but San Antonio won’t be hurting without him. LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the best power forwards in the Association, Kawhi Leonard has blossomed into the league’s top two-way player and veterans Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili still have some magic left in the tank. If anyone other than the Spurs wins the banner, it would be a major shock.
The Memphis Grizzlies (+1200), Houston Rockets (+1200), New Orleans Pelicans (+2500) and Dallas Mavericks (+4000) are well back. Considering the drop-off in talent and the fact that the Spurs have won the division in five of the last six years, I’m not sure if there’s any value in backing any of these clubs to win the divisional bragging rights.
People have been waiting for years for the Grizzlies to fall off, and the end might be coming sooner than most expect. Memphis has always been a solid regular season team that just can’t get it done in the playoffs, and Father Time is catching up to them. Point guard Mike Conley signed the biggest contract in NBA history this summer – a whopping five-year, $153-million deal – but his supporting cast leaves something to be desired.
Houston, Dallas and New Orleans are all tough teams to figure out. The Rockets let Dwight Howard walk in the offseason, which was a foregone conclusion due to his declining skills and his inability to co-exist with superstar James Harden. Houston has some serious opposition in the brutal Western Conference, but they’re only two years removed from a conference finals appearance and they should shoot the lights out this year with Harden running the point.
Dirk Nowitzki is 38, and the Mavericks aren’t about to let the German spend the twilight of his career on a rebuilding team. Dallas always seems to rise above expectations no matter how poor their preseason odds are, so I’m not going to count them out again.
The Pelicans have the league’s top young superstar in Anthony Davis and a roster that leaves a lot to be desired. Alvin Gentry’s first year as head coach in the Bayou State was one to forget, as the Pels skidded to an ugly 30-52 record. They won’t be that bad again, but they aren’t prepared to challenge for the division any time soon either.
|San Antonio Spurs||-750|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+2500|
Odds as of October 26 at Bovada