Culture of Hoops

2020-21 NBA Season Preview: Southwest Division

Check out our other NBA Divisional Previews below.

2020-21 NBA Season Preview: Atlantic Division

2020-21 NBA Season Preview: Central Division

2020-21 NBA Season Preview: Northwest Division

2020-21 NBA Season Preview: Pacific Division

2020-21 NBA Season Preview: Southeast Division


The newbie I’m looking forward to the most is Devin Vassell of the San Antonio Spurs. Vassell is one of the better guards from this draft class and there’s no doubt that he’s a player who can provide a big boost for a Spurs team that seems to be into rebuilding mode for the first time in over two decades. Vassell is a great two-way player who has excellent confidence for a player coming out of the collegiate level. Although his shot mechanics are a little nontraditional, Vassell is an efficient shooter, shooting 41.5 percent from beyond the arc in his time at Florida State. Alongside a healthy Dejounte Murray, these two youngsters can learn and grow together to become the Spurs’ backcourt of the future. 

In addition to Vassell, Kira Lewis Jr. of the New Orleans Pelicans and Josh Green of the Dallas Mavericks are two newcomers to look out for as well. Both Lewis Jr. and Green are in situations where their teams are loaded at their positions, forcing them to make their way to the top of the depth chart from the bottom. In the meantime, Lewis Jr. can learn from Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe, while Green can take notes from Josh Richardson, Tim Hardaway Jr., and James Johnson as they patiently wait for their moments to come.

Although they’re not newcomers per say, Christian Wood and DeMarcus Cousins of the Houston Rockets, and Eric Bledsoe of the New Orleans Pelicans are players to keep an eye on this season. All three are interesting fits with their respective teams and I’m curious to see how well they do in their roles with their new squads. 


Dallas Mavericks
Kristaps Porziņģis‘ health is going to be the biggest thing that makes or breaks the Mavericks’ season this year. Right now, Porziņģis is expected to miss the first few games of the year after recovering from a meniscus tear. Luka Dončić can only do so much alone, but with Porziņģis healthy, Dončić can be a better player without the pressure of being the go-to scorer for every possession. Many believe the Mavericks can become a top threat in the Western Conference this season, but in order to do that, they desperately need Porziņģis to be at full health; and all know the havoc Porziņģis creates against opponents when he’s at 100 percent.

Houston Rockets
The X-Factor for the Rockets this season is newly signed free agent big man Christian Wood. Wood is a versatile big who can stretch the floor with his impressive midrange and three point shooting. He’s still developing defensively, but has shown flashes of being a glass cleaning rim protector that Houston can rely on. Wood can emerge as a real third scoring option for this Rockets team, which may help them take the next step this season. 

New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans are another team who haven’t had good health on their side consistently. In order for Zion Williamson and company to take that next step, players need to be available for them to build great chemistry. Imagine if the Pelicans had Willamson healthy all year? Maybe they would’ve been a playoff team with more wins under their belt. Lonzo Ball was also starting to breakout before his injury halfway through the year. With a deeper roster heading into this season, the Pelicans have the potential to be a threat to many of the contenders in the West, but they need to stay healthy.

Memphis Grizzlies
We all know how great the duo of Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. is together, as they kept Memphis afloat in a deep Western Conference for the most part of last year. However, the Western Conference has gotten tougher, as many teams reshaped their roster significantly. The Grizzlies need to play their hearts out to secure a playoff spot this year. In order for Memphis to remain strong, I think Dillon Brooks and/or Brandon Clarke need to emerge as a reliable third scoring option. Both players have the potential to be consistent scorers next to Morant and Jackson Jr. and if either one becomes that, the Grizzlies can be a legitimate playoff team in 2021.

San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs aren’t sure whether they should rebuild or remain competitive and barely make the playoffs, which explains why they kept DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge in town for at least one more season. The biggest thing for the Spurs and head coach Gregg Popovich this year is going to be deciding what direction they’re going in. Once they figure out their approach heading into this season, the team can be better focused on getting back to title contention once again. With all the young talent they have, I think it makes sense to rebuild and develop players and establish roles for them in this system, so that they can come back being a stronger team later down the line. 


Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks will be a top three seed in the Western Conference and Luka Dončić makes a serious run for the regular season MVP, but comes up just a tad short.

Houston Rockets
They become better after the Russell Westbrook trade, but don’t trade James Harden until later.

New Orleans Pelicans
A fully healthy Pelicans squad proves to be a threat to the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, Rockets and Mavericks.

Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies will be a highly competitive team in the Western Conference, but finish as the ninth seed due to the amount of good teams in the conference. 

San Antonio Spurs
Gregg Popovich will keep this team kind of competitive, but mid-way through the year management decides it’s time to rebuild and trades their vets for draft picks and other assets to build for the future.


PG: Ja Morant
SG: James Harden
SF: Luka Dončić
PF: Zion Williamson
C: Kristaps Porziņģis


*The 2020-21 NBA season will consist of only 72 regular season games instead of the normal 82 games as a result of scheduling conflicts 

1. Dallas Mavericks (56-16)
2. Houston Rockets (48-24)
3. New Orleans Pelicans (48-24)
4. Memphis Grizzlies (40-32)
5. San Antonio Spurs (33-39)

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