After a thrilling season, the NBA is officially over for another year. So, the team at SportsTips thought it would be a good idea to go through every team in the Southwest Division, and have a look at the year that was!
It was a very interesting season for the Dallas Mavericks with plenty of ups and downs but it was a success nonetheless. They hovered around that 4th and 5th spot in the Western Conference all season, ultimately getting the fourth seed and home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Midway through the season, Dallas traded away proven rim protector Kristaps Porzingis to the Washington Wizards for a package that included Spencer Dinwiddie. Porzingis is supremely talented but struggled with injuries that kept him sidelined and he could never really get into a flow in the offense because of it.
The move for Dinwiddie was exactly what they needed at the guard position alongside Luka Doncic, and he helped them finish the regular season on a 20-7 run which was second-best to only the Boston Celtics. The Mavs faced the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs and were able to dispatch them in 6 games thanks to some great three-point shooting.
Officially official ✍️
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) July 7, 2022
The Jazz are known for great regular seasons and then disappearing in the playoffs so it was just more of the same for them as Dallas moved on to face the top-seeded Phoenix Suns. This was the series that showed the world the potential of a Luka Doncic-led team, as they won the series in 7 games, with the final game being a 33-point beat down on the road to send them to the Western Conference Finals.
That’s when they ran into the eventual NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors who took care of them in 5 games. It was a great season but things will be a lot different next year with the departure of Jalen Brunson who was such a big part of their success, especially in the postseason.
This will put more on the plate of Luka, which I’m totally confident he will be able to handle. Also the defense will need to take that next step if they want to have more success in the big games, but all in all the future is bright and fans have a lot to be excited about.
The Houston Rockets had the number 2 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and were expected to once again be one of the worst teams in the 2021-2022 season. They were indeed just that, finishing with a record of 20-62 which put them 15th in the Western Conference.
In fact, since Stephen Silas was given head coaching duties two seasons ago, they have only won 37 games. A bright spot for the Rockets was the play of that number 2 pick Jalen Green. Green got off to a pretty slow start, which can be expected of a rookie but once he got rolling he showed some elite potential. His second half of the year was good enough to land him on the All Rookie First Team, averaging over 17 points a game.
the work begins 🗣 pic.twitter.com/ZBliOCozxI
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) July 3, 2022
John Wall famously sat out the entire year again despite being one of the highest paid players, but in the beginning of this year’s free-agency he was bought out and has now joined the Los Angeles Clippers. This is going to be a long rebuild for Houston and they’ll just need to be patient and make the right moves for the future and eventually they will see their team be competitive yet again.
The Memphis Grizzlies had a season that far exceeded any expectations as they were able to win a franchise-record 56 games in 2021-22. A big reason for that was the development and improvement of their young guys, most of all Ja Morant. Morant was the Rookie of the Year two years ago, then averaged 19 points a game his second season before fully exploding in his third year.
His points per game jumped all the way from 19.1 to 27.4, which helped him make his first All-Star team and also got him the Most Improved Player award. His backcourt mate Desmond Bane was also a candidate for the award as he doubled his points per game to 18.
officially official 🐻🖊️ pic.twitter.com/wJmxxpYGfi
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) July 6, 2022
Rounding out their young core is Jaren Jackson Jr. who is very skilled, athletic, and spaces the floor well for them as well as playing rock-solid defense. Memphis earned the 2nd seed in the Western Conference and had to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the playoffs.
It was a very up and down series, with both teams blowing huge leads throughout but the Grizzlies were able to escape in 6 tough games. This would end up being their only series win however, as they ran into the Golden State Warriors who proved to be too much for the young squad.
Losing to the eventual NBA Champs is nothing to be ashamed of and we will be seeing a lot of success for this Memphis Grizzlies team in the future as they have already locked up Ja Morant for the long-term.
New Orleans Pelicans
It was a weird year for the New Orleans Pelicans in 2021-22, as they were without their best player and former number 1 pick Zion Williamson. Despite that they still took advantage of the new play-in tournament and worked their way into the postseason.
At the beginning of the season, the thought of even being in the playoff picture was a pipe-dream as they started the year just 1-12. They picked up steam midway through the year and that was due in large part to trading for former Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum midway through the season.
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) July 6, 2022
He brought a much needed scoring threat to the roster and provided some veteran leadership that was severely missing. The play of young forward Brandon Ingram and coaching of Willie Green was also big in helping them get to the playoffs where they faced off with the Phoenix Suns in the first round.
As the 8 seed, New Orleans was very competitive, pushing the heavily favored Suns to Game 6 before bowing out at home. With the core they had in 2021-2022 they were already a playoff team, so inserting a healthy Zion Williamson into the lineup will make them a very dangerous team to watch for this upcoming year. I like the way things are headed for them and if things go their way I wouldn’t be surprised to see them winning a round or two in the upcoming playoffs.
San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs came into the 2021-22 season expected to be in a rebuild after losing their best player Demar DeRozan in the offseason to the Chicago Bulls, but things went a little better than expected. It was a team full of young hungry guys that was being coached by future Hall of Famer Gregg Popovich and that formula was good enough to land them a spot in the play-in tournament.
The leader of the pack was Dejounte Murray who made his first All-Star team and his impact was felt on a nightly basis. Murray averaged nearly a triple-double (21.1 ppg, 9.2 apg, 8.3 rpg) and was really making everyone around him better.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) July 8, 2022
In the play-in tournament however, things did not go the way of San Antonio as they lost to the New Orleans Pelicans and were sent home for the summer. The development of players like Murray, Keldon Johnson, Lonnie Walker IV, and Josh Primo would have set them up for bright things in the future but there was just one small problem.
During the free agency period following the season, both Murray and Walker departed the team. Murray was traded to the Atlanta Hawks for a package centered around three first-round picks and Walker signed a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now all hope for a stepping stone year is gone and fans will have to wait this rebuild out a little longer but with a boat load of picks, they will have plenty of opportunities to draft the right guy to lead them back to relevancy.
Even though the season has finished, we’ve got you covered with all the latest information on the NBA! We keep you as up to date as possible, so you don’t miss any of the action this off-season.