Catching Up on the 2016-17 NBA Offseason: The Southwest Division

Between the Mavericks, Rockets, Grizzlies, Pelicans, and Spurs, who got better this offseason?

A couple weeks ago, we began recapping the whirlwind NBA offseason by division. So far, we've covered the Atlantic Division, the Northwest Division, the Central Division, the Pacific Division, and the Southeast Division. Today, we're hitting the Southwest Division.

In this series, we are hoping to provide you with a one-stop spot to catch up on all the player movement that took place in the NBA this summer, analyzing the changes within each division along the way and finishing it all off with an all-encompassing summary at the end.

For the sake of our analysis, we'll be using our proprietary nERD metric as a point of comparison, focusing on nERD in and nERD out for each team.

If you're not familiar with nERD, it combines several offensive, defensive, and usage factors to produce one number that is meant to project a player's overall value to his team. That final number is an estimate of how many games above or below .500 a league-average team would win over an 82-game season with the player in question as one of its starters. It's comparable to win shares, but is meant to be predictive (projecting an 82-game season) as opposed to descriptive (how many wins the player has contributed to his team in the past). For the sake of this study, we'll use last season's nERD scores and leave out rookies and overseas imports (since they're such unknown commodities).

The Southwest Division is arguably the strongest division in the Association, accounting for four of the eight playoff teams to come out of the Western Conference last year in the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, and San Antonio Spurs. The New Orleans Pelicans, meanwhile, may have missed out on the postseason last year, but they have one of the league's brightest young stars in Anthony Davis.

All five of these teams had a fairly pivotal offseason, with plenty on the line. The playoff teams are striving to remain relevant, while the Pelicans go through another year of trying to surround Davis with the proper talent.

Let's see how everyone did.

Dallas Mavericks

Players InHow?nERDPlayers OutHow?nERD
Andrew BogutTrade4.6Zaza PachuliaFA3.4
Harrison BarnesFA2.2David LeeFA2.1
Quincy AcyFA1.7Chandler ParsonsFA1.0
Seth CurryFA0.0JaVale McGeeWaived0.7
Jeremy EvansTrade0.3
Raymond FeltonFA-3.5

nERD in:
nERD out: 4.0
Net nERD: 4.5

The days of the Mavericks being considered legitimate title contenders are certainly gone, but the team continues to put interesting pieces around Dirk Nowitzki and remain in the playoff picture. This year should be no different, as not one of their four incoming players had a negative nERD last season. Harrison Barnes is only 24 years old and will have the chance to flourish now that he's in a place where he'll be higher in the pecking order than he was with the Golden State Warriors. Andrew Bogut is still a positive contributor on both ends of the floor, and his nERD of 4.6 is the highest of any incoming player in the division this offseason. Those two, along with solid bench additions in Quincy Acy and Seth Curry, should go a long way in offsetting the Mavericks' loss of Chandler Parsons to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Houston Rockets

Players InHow?nERDPlayers OutHow?nERD
NeneFA1.0Dwight HowardFA3.6
Pablo PrigioniFA-0.5Andrew GoudelockWaived-0.3
Ryan AndersonFA-1.1Terrence JonesFA-1.4
Eric GordonFA-1.9Jason TerryFA-1.9

nERD in:
nERD out: 0.0
Net nERD: -2.5

The seemingly inevitable breakup between James Harden and Dwight Howard finally happened this summer when Howard bolted for the Atlanta Hawks. The Rockets did fairly well at filling the void he left, though, adding some solid role players in Nene, Ryan Anderson, and Eric Gordon. Health has been a concern for all three of those guys in recent years, but if they can remain in the lineup, they should serve as nice complements to Harden. At the end of the day, this is and always has been Harden's team, and they will continue to go as far as he manages to take them.

Memphis Grizzlies

Players InHow?nERDPlayers OutHow?nERD
Chandler ParsonsFA1.0Chris AndersenFA0.9
James EnnisFA0.5Matt BarnesFA-4.5
Troy DanielsTrade0.4

nERD in:
nERD out: -3.6
Net nERD: 5.5

The big story out of Memphis this offseason was the re-signing of Mike Conley to a monster contract, but the addition of Chandler Parsons was a pretty big splash as well for a Grizzlies team so desperately in need of shooting. Parsons is certainly an upgrade over Matt Barnes and his -4.5 nERD, and he should be an interesting fit alongside the team's core of Conley, Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph. The Grizzlies didn't get a whole lot younger this summer, but they should be right back in the mix for a playoff spot somewhere in the middle of the Western Conference.

New Orleans Pelicans

Players InHow?nERDPlayers OutHow?nERD
Solomon HillFA0.8James EnnisFA0.5
Chris CopelandFA-0.8Toney DouglasWaived-0.4
Robert SacreFA-0.8Jordan HamiltonSigned Overseas-0.9
Terrence JonesFA-1.4Ryan AndersonFA-1.1
E'Twaun MooreFA-1.6Luke BabbittTrade-1.3
Langston GallowayFA-2.2Eric GordonFA-1.9

nERD in:
nERD out: -5.1
Net nERD: -0.9

The Pelicans' eternal quest to surround Anthony Davis with talent seems to have stalled out a bit this summer. There are some decent role players among the six mid-tier guys they brought in, but no one stands out as a big difference-maker. The team's Net nERD of -0.9 suggests that, for all the movement in and out of New Orleans this offseason, the Pelicans are more or less in the same place they started. On the plus side, Davis is locked in until 2021, and this year's sixth overall pick, Buddy Hield, has the potential to be an immediate contributor. Perhaps there's hope for the Pelicans yet.

San Antonio Spurs

Players InHow?nERDPlayers OutHow?nERD
Pau GasolFA4.5David WestFA5.3
David LeeFA2.1Boban MarjanovicFA5.0
Dewayne DedmonFA2.0Tim DuncanRetired4.0
Boris DiawTrade2.0

nERD in:
nERD out: 16.3
Net nERD: -7.7

The San Antonio Spurs and their players rate incredibly well by our nERD metric. They were the top team in our power rankings last season -- not the 73-win Warriors -- and only two of their 17 players had a negative nERD for the 2015-16 campaign. In which case, any player movement out of San Antonio almost always means losing guys who are generally positive contributors. To wit, all four of their outgoing players had a nERD over 2.0 last year.

Tim Duncan's retirement will be the most noticeable change for the Spurs after nearly two decades of having him there as the team's anchor, but they are still bringing in three players with nERD ratings above 2.0 (the Spurs have a type). Pau Gasol can still contribute a lot on the boards and the offensive end as Duncan's most obvious replacement, so to speak, but the defensive drop-off from Duncan to him will be stark.

Either way, it will be interesting to see how the Spurs perform this year, now that there is no longer even a shadow of a doubt that this is Kawhi Leonard's -- and to a lesser extent, LaMarcus Aldridge's -- team.


TeamnERD InnERD OutNet nERD
Dallas Mavericks8.54.04.5
Houston Rockets-2.50.0-2.5
Memphis Grizzlies1.9-3.65.5
New Orleans Pelicans-6.0-5.1-0.9
San Antonio Spurs8.616.3-7.7

The Spurs are usually a shoo-in as the team that had the strongest offseason in the Southwest Division, but not this year. It's not that they can help Tim Duncan's retiring, but their Net nERD of -7.7 simply suggests that they will be taking a step back from their ridiculously strong 2015-16.

Meanwhile, the Pelicans have somewhat stagnated, and the Rockets have to deal with life after Dwight Howard. If we had to name a winner of the offseason for the division, it would come down to the Mavericks and the Grizzlies, who both made noticeable upgrades this summer. We'll give the nod to the Grizzlies because their Net nERD of 5.5 paces the division.