Where they fall in the division and conference standings becomes the question. I think that Dallas has the least reason to be optimistic, yet they have made some decent moves. The New Orleans Pelicans are still a pretty big question mark, but they've done a terrific job rebuilding. They have more than enough potential to be better than the Mavs. Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans compliment each other nicely. New Orleans may not make the playoffs this year, but they'll be a heck of a lot closer than most would have guessed before this offseason began.
With a few new acquisitions and largely the same roster, expect the Memphis Grizzlies to have another great season with a chance to capitalize on the changing NBA Southwest.
The Rockets may very well have the best year in the Southwest, but that's dependent upon Dwight Howard's ability to coexist with teammates. Aside from Atlanta, this was probably the best choice for Howard to land. If H-squared (Read: Harden and Howard) can succeed within the first weeks of the regular season, they are a huge threat. If not, the Grit n' Grind Grizzlies will likely find themselves ahead of the Rockets again.
And what about the Spurs? They're plenty talented, but they're aging. Manu Ginobili's talents are quickly fading and they can only run on Tim Duncan and Tony Parker for so long. Their younger stars will have to make the difference, and they proved capable in the NBA Finals. But whether or not they can do it for a full season remains a big question mark. However, the latest battle against the Spurs indicates that the Grizzlies can't quite top San Antonio. But, the regular season will be a test of perseverance, and the Blue Bears have what it takes to outlast them this year.
The NBA Southwest is going to be a competitive division again, but it's as up for grabs as it's ever been. That puts Memphis in a prime position to close in on the top spot in the division and a top spot overall. However, every team in this division should be feared in one way or another.