The 2021-22 NBA regular season is scheduled to begin on October 19 and in the weeks leading up to Opening Night, we are previewing each NBA division.
Here, you can find projected win totals, best player and best rookie predictions, hidden stories to watch, and a bold prediction across the five teams.
Today, the focus shifts to the Southwest Division.
2021-22 NBA Season Preview: Southwest Division
Total projected earnings
|New Orleans Pelicans||39.5|
|San antonio spurs||28.5|
Plus / minus total earnings courtesy of Action Network.
Best Player: Luka Doncic
For the second consecutive season, the Slovenian is the favorite to be named Most Valuable Player and comes from an All-NBA First Team selection and an All-Star season.
Doncic helped the Mavericks lead the Clippers to seven games in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, adding 35.7 points, 10.3 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game. As he enters the fourth season of his career, he has a real chance to rise in the conversation about the best player in the league.
Despite being 22 years old, Doncic moves like a veteran. While individual accolades have come to him, the team’s significant success still eludes him with two straight first-round outings in the playoffs. With a new head coach Jason Kidd at the helm in Dallas, expect Doncic’s game to go to another level this season as the Mavs look to join the elite teams in the Western Conference.
Best Rookie: Jalen Green
Green, chosen No. 2 in the 2021 NBA Draft, is widely regarded as the best scorer in his class and has landed in a situation that is perfectly suited to his abilities.
Green, who starred in the G League ignition last season before being drafted by the Rockets, has all the intangibles to succeed at the NBA level with his ability to create on his own, reach the basket with ease, and knock down shots. from the perimeter. But most of all, head coach Stephen Silas will likely give him the green light from the jump.
In GM’s annual poll, 47 percent of the vote went to Green for Rookie of the Year over Cade Cunningham (40 percent) of the Pistons, and early signs in Houston look promising for his chances.
Along with Kevin Porter Jr. and Christian Wood, the Rockets have a young and exciting core, and Green’s offensive ability will be central to their plans this season. They won’t win many games, but they will be League Pass favorites.
Story under the radar: Jaren Jackson Jr.’s breakout season
In the annual GM Poll, 17 percent of the votes went to Jackson Jr. to have a breakout season. If he stays healthy, that could well save the Grizzlies beyond a first-round appearance.
The 22-year-old spent most of last season on the sidelines while recovering from a torn meniscus in his left knee, but showed he was on his way to becoming one of the league’s best two-way young men in his career. second year. 2019-20 season, averaging 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
The Grizzlies, led by Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks, were electrifying in their first-round series against the Jazz in the 2021 NBA Playoffs, but eventually sold out. With Jackson Jr. back, alongside Steven Adams on the front court, plus the continued growth of Desmond Bane, Brandon Clarke, and Kyle Anderson, the Grizzlies have all the ingredients to make some noise in the west, but a lot of that is will cut Jackson Jr. remains healthy.
Bold prediction: Pelicans will participate in Play-In tournament
The Pelicans lost their last four games last season, costing them a shot at the Play-In Tournament, finishing 2.0 games behind the Spurs for finishing spot.
It was a missed opportunity to capitalize on Zion Williamson’s impressive regular season, but in year three, the All-Star forward says the days of missing the postseason are over for New Orleans. He described not being in the playoffs as “a disgusting feeling” and promised the Pelicans would miss “it won’t happen anymore.”
In a competitive Western Conference, the race for playoff spots will be narrowed through the top six seeds, yet the Pelicans have a real chance of getting through the Play-In Tournament.
With Lonzo Ball, Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe advancing, they have some new faces in town in the form of Devonte ‘Graham, Jonas Valanciunas and No. 17 draft pick Trey Murphy III to fill the void. But did they really improve from last season?
Valanciunas is coming off a pro season at Memphis and his fit alongside Williamson on the front court should be a lot more fluid than it was for Adams. In addition, they will expect a lot of internal development from Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and another jump from Williamson, who is averaging 27.0 points and 7.2 rebounds in his second NBA season.
Freshman head coach Willie Green will have to work hard to get them to the playoffs, but looking at the landscape in the West, a Play-In Tournament spot might be the best in his first season. .
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.