With the NBA season less than a week away, it's time to preview each of the divisions, culminating in award picks and championship projections. Today, we take a look at the Southwest Division.

5. Houston Rockets

Dwight Howard's unsuccessful tenure in H-Town finally came to an end, as he moved on to the Atlanta Hawks. It was never in question, but this is once again James Harden's team. His wanton defense and constant search for shooting fouls may be an unattractive style of play, but it gets the job done. The surrounding talent is lacking this season, though, and Mike D'Antoni has already had enough troubling head coaching tenures to believe in him now.

4. New Orleans Pelicans

Predicting New Orleans to move up in the rankings is highly dependent on star Anthony Davis' health, and he's once again battling an injury that's jeopardizing the beginning of his season. Point Jrue Holiday will also miss time to start the season. There's hope for rookie Buddy Hield, a shooter who blew up the college ranks and will look to immediately improve the Pelicans' spacing.

3. Dallas Mavericks

There are some fresh faces in Dallas, as Golden State transplants Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut have joined the fold. At the end of the day, this is still Dirk Nowitzki's team. The ageless German power forward is a surefire Hall of Famer, but it's fair to begin questioning if he can keep playing at a high level, and keep a miscast Mavericks team afloat.

2. Memphis Grizzlies

In some ways, Memphis is facing similar questions to Dallas, but they have more proven commodities on their team. Mike Conley Jr. received a massive extension in the offseason, Marc Gasol will look to return to health, Tony Allen can still defend, and Zach Randolph seems willing to accept a role on the bench.

Add in the talented but injury prone Chandler Parsons and the Grizzlies should keep their contention window open for another season.

1. San Antonio Spurs

Tim Duncan retired. He's not walking through any door as a player ever again. Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker may not be far beyond. Yet this team still remains the favorite in the Southwest Division.

Why? The culture Gregg Popovich (and Duncan) created is relentless in its pursuit of greatness, and LaMarcus Aldridge and MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard buy into the system. There are rumors the team could be blown up if they look meek next to Golden State, but don't count on it.

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