1. Memphis Grizzlies
Surprise. The Memphis Grizzlies are atop the Southwest Division rankings. After two straight first-place finishes in the division, the Grizzlies deserve to be here.
The elephant in the room is apparent, superstar guard Ja Morant will be out the first 25 games due to repeated instances of detrimental conduct.
With Morant on the sidelines, the Grizzlies are in for an uphill battle. The good news is that Memphis is returning the majority of its 50-win squad's contributors. The only major changes are the addition of Marcus Smart and the departures of Tyus Jones and Dillon Brooks.
Losing Jones is a tough pill to swallow, as he admirably led the Grizzlies whenever Morant missed time. But now, Memphis has Smart to rely upon, even if he is less of a true lead guard than Jones was, he's a good all-around player. Brooks will be missed for his wing defense, but he was essentially cast off after the Grizzlies' first-round defeat.
Memphis will likely begin the year starting Smart, Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Steven Adams. The fifth spot is up for grabs, as Jon Konchar, David Roddy, and former-10th overall pick Ziaire Williams will likely compete for the final starting gig.
No matter who Memphis trots out on opening night, Head Coach Taylor Jenkins sure finds a way to build chemistry between players. The Grizzlies have arguably the third-best roster in the Southwest Division, but their roster fits like a puzzle. Every piece provides something different and useful.
Memphis has athleticism, shooting, defense, and the competitive edge to compete and succeed. If the Grizzlies can stay afloat during Morant's suspension, they should remain the best in the Southwest.