Toronto Raptors: Who from the Southwest Division can compete with the Raptors?

SAN ANTONIO,TX - OCTOBER 23: LaMarcus Aldridge
SAN ANTONIO,TX - OCTOBER 23: LaMarcus Aldridge /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images) /

As we prepare for the Toronto Raptors 2018-2019 season, we take a look at across the league, starting with the Southwest Division.

The Toronto Raptors are faced with the toughest division in the Eastern Conference. However, the Southwest Division has been the NBA’s toughest division for close to two decades now.

From the trio of Texas powers in Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas, to the rise of New Orleans and Memphis, this division usually sends at least three teams to the playoffs.

Despite the NBA’s changing landscape, most of the teams have found ways to thrive.

Houston has reinvented itself into becoming the antithesis to Golden State. Led by James Harden and Chris Paul, the Rockets added Carmelo Anthony to bolster their “Iso Ball”. But the departures of defensive pieces make them susceptible.

San Antonio also made headlines with the biggest trade this summer sending disgruntled star Kawhi Leonard for DeMar DeRozan, the Toronto Raptors’ all-time leading scorer. With old faces leaving and a slew of new players coming, this could be the dawn of a new Spurs era.

Anthony Davis will again have to do the heavy lifting for New Orleans. The team lost Demarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo, and are hoping Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton are sufficient replacements. If A.D. stays healthy, they shouldn’t be counted out.

Dallas is looking like a strong bounce-back candidate after they landed DeAndre Jordan and Luka Doncic in the offseason. With Dennis Smith Jr. continuing to develop and Dirk Nowitzki still producing at a high level, the Mavericks could return to the playoffs.

And finally, the Grizzlies look to crawl out of the division’s basement with a healthy Mike Conley and lottery pick Jaren Jackson Jr. joining the fray.

We’ll take our analysis from the Southwest’s worst team to its best, beginning with one of the league’s best fifth-place division teams.