The Memphis Grizzlies (19-13) currently occupy the #4 seed in the Western Conference, but they’re the betting favorite to win the NBA Southwest Division at -145 odds ahead of the Dallas Mavericks at +110.
The Grizzlies are the surprise team in the Western Conference this season, especially after they went 10-2 without leading scorer Ja Morant. Morant, who won the Rookie of the Year two seasons ago, sprained his left knee over Thanksgiving weekend. He missed 12 games, but the Grizzlies didn’t skip a beat without him.
|NBA Southwest Divsions Odds|
- Memphis Grizzlies -145
- Dallas Mavericks +110
- San Antonio Spurs +10000
- New Orleans Pelicans +50000
- Houston Rockets +80000
The Mavericks were -230 odds to win the Southwest at the start of the season, while the Grizzlies were +400. The Pelicans were +700, but that’s when everyone expected Zion Williamson would return quickly after a foot injury.
The Mavericks (15-15) currently find themselves at .500 and without their star player, Luka Doncic. Doncic missed five games with an ankle injury and, just as he was about to return to the lineup, he tested positive for COVID-19.
The Dallas Mavericks were the consensus preseason favorite to win the Southwest Division, even though they were trying to patch up a lot of internal turmoil. The Mavs have a new general manager and new head coach with Jason Kidd replacing Rick Carlisle.
Doncic was an early favorite to win the MVP, and bettors expected him to carry the Mavs this season. On paper, the Mavs looked like they had a clear path to winning the Southwest Division, with the Grizzlies as their only competition.
Hey, let’s be honest here — the Southwest was a two-team race with a soft field that also had three teams trying to find themselves. The Houston Rockets were the worst team in the NBA last season. The New Orleans Pelicans had a new coach for the third time in three seasons, plus Zion fractured his foot in the offseason, and then had a setback in his recovery. The San Antonio Spurs were just treading water while fans wondered if head coach Gregg Popovich was considering retirement.
With two-thirds of the season remaining, the Spurs (12-18), Pelicans (11-21), and Rockets (10-22) are in the bottom end of a top-heavy Western Conference. The Rockets and Pelicans are the two worst teams in the conference, and the Spurs aren’t far behind the bottom feeders.
Morant leads the Grizzlies, averaging 24.1 points, 6.8 assists, and 5.6 rebounds per game this season. Dillon Brooks is second in scoring, averaging 19.7 ppg. Desmond Bane, a second-year player out of TCU, had a breakout season. The shooting guard averages 16.5 ppg while shooting 42% from 3-point range.
A healthy Jaren Jackson, Jr started 31 games for the Grizzlies this season. He’s averaging 16.4 points and hauling down 5.3 rebounds per game. Along with veteran center Steve Adams, the Grizzlies have a tough frontline to go with their triple-guard offense.
The Grizzlies also boast a tight second unit with De’Anthony Melton (10.1 ppg), Kyle Anderson, and Tyus Jones. In early December, the Grizzlies set an NBA record with a 73-point blowout against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Grizzlies notched a career-best 152 points while holding the Thunder to 79 points.
Without Morant, the Grizzlies still obliterated the Thunder and shot 62.5% from the field and 53% from 3-point range. Nine players scored double digits and, if Steve Adams actually shot more than twice that game, he could have scored more than nine points. Jackson led all scorers with 27 points, while Melton added 19 points off the bench.