Bet the Memphis Grizzlies to Win the Southwest Before It's Too Late

Dec 13, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzles forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (13) reacts after
Dec 13, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzles forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (13) reacts after / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Despite losing Ja Morant for a chunk of the season, the Memphis Grizzlies have bolted to the top of the Southwest Division, and may not be looking back, leading the Dallas Mavericks by 2.5 games.

Memphis has won seven of eight games without their star guard, leading the NBA in net rating over that time, per The Grizz are allowing a league best 96 points per 100 possessions, anchoring their recent stretch as well as the emergence of Jaren Jackson Jr, who is turning into the foundational piece they had hoped when they took him No. 4 in the 2019 Draft.

Here are the odds to win the Southwest Division, per WynnBET Sportsbook.

Southwest Division Odds

  • Dallas Mavericks: -175
  • Memphis Grizzlies: +120
  • San Antonio Spurs: +8000
  • New Orleans Pelicans: +12500

The Mavericks are still the considerable favorites to win the award, but I'm skeptical that they are going to keep pace with the Grizz over the course of the season.

The issues start with Luka Doncic, who has been battling an ankle injury of late after arriving to training camp overweight this season.

Doncic was ruled out for both legs of the Mavs' most recent back-to-back against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Charlotte Hornets in order to get that ankle right.

On the year, the Mavs are league average on both sides of the ball, posting a 0.0 net rating. While Doncic is an MVP-caliber player, I'm not bullish about the current roster construction that is 21st in effective field goal percentage to push back to the top of the standings.

Things look much brighter for the Grizz at this point, who have built a defensive identity as they await the return of Morant, the teams dynamic playmaker. There's no timetable as he heals from a knee sprain, but Taylor Jenkins said it would be a "few weeks" when he announced the injury two weeks ago.

At + money, with a 2.5-game cushion on the Mavericks, I see this as a strong + money wager, especially considering the Spurs and Pelicans are already off pace by at least six games.