How will the NBA's Southwest Division shape up this season? Let's take a look.The Southwest Division has been regarded for many years as the toughest division in the NBA. This upcoming season will be no exception as most notably the Houston Rockets and the New Orleans Pelicans have improved their rosters which they expect to coincide with more victories. All teams below will play each other four times throughout the season, and some exciting playoff series could result if matchups result amongst these teams. Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks were unlucky to strike out on start talent in back-to-back offseasons. To avoid another meaningless season it forced the franchise to fight among the limited talent available and some key pieces eventuated. Monta Ellis is able to fill the void left by O.J. Mayo and the Mavs have plenty of point guard depth with Jose Calderon, Devin Harris and Shane Larkin on the roster. Samuel Dalembert was picked up at the 11th hour to be the Mavs most-likely starting center, and Dejaun Blair was also a solid backup signed to a small deal. It's clear the bench in Dallas will be considerably short in the front court. Dirk Nowitzki this season will be the second highest paid player in the league at approximately $US 22.7 Million, only second to Kobe Bryant at $US 30.4 Million. (Statistics from HoopsHype.com.) X-Factor: Brandan Wright - The eighth pick in the 2007 draft has an opportunity to pick up some big minutes if he can become stronger and more aggressive in the paint. He could be the Power Forward spot when Dallas play small ball. Predicted Record: 45-37 Houston Rockets The largest move of the offseason firmly belongs with the Houston Rockets as they set themselves up for a championship run. Dwight Howard moved to Texas which brings James Harden, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons together to form a formidable starting five, whomever fills the power forward spot. Even after Howard absorbed approximately $20 million of Houston's salary cap for this season, the Rockets are in the bottom five for lowest payrolls heading into the season. To be a championship contender with that riding on them means the front office must be making amens on their previous woes. X-Factor: Omer Asik - He was arguably Houston's X-Factor heading into last season as he had a lot to prove coming from the bench in Chicago. Given 30 minutes a game Asik averaged a healthy double-double but now Howard is in the picture it's unknown how Asik will perform. Projected Record: 56-26 Memphis Grizzlies After reaching the Western Conference Finals last season it was unclear whether Memphis was wanting to retain their core or make a shake up. Lionel Hollins was dumped as their head coach which elevated assistant David Joerger to his position. It's rumoured Memphis will be looking to move slightly away from their slow half-court sets to a faster tempo, which Marc Gasol has publicly backed. There's no way of knowing how this will turn out for them and last time the Grizzlies made a controversial move, trading away Rudy Gay, it got them Tayshaun Prince, and a Conference Finals berth may not have resulted if that move didn't happen. X-Factor: Mike Miller - A high-caliber three-point threat Memphis hasn't had in a long while, Miller will help space the floor for Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol to open up the paint. Projected Record: 58-24 New Orleans Pelicans New Orleans now have a young vibrant back court with newcomers Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans to join Eric Gordon. The foundation of this team will clearly rely on their health and chemistry which needs to be set off on the right foot when training camp starts. Their is plenty of promise in their starting front court as Anthony Davis is fresh off his Team USA workouts and Ryan Anderson is a consistent offensive threat. X-Factor: Anthony Davis - If the guards can provide Anthony Davis good ball in the post he will be able to develop his game at a faster rate than last season. Plus a few more alley-oops may eventuate for NOLA. Projected Record: 34-48 San Antonio Spurs Recovery from their heart breaking NBA Finals series is one of the rare feelings San Antonio aren't familiar with. The true character of the Spurs will show during the regular season as giving 100 percent effort night after night will be much more difficult than last season as they realise how draining it is to be one of the last two teams standing. X-Factor: Kawhi Leonard - While Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan can be expected to see a decline in their production, it paves the way for Kawhi Leonard to further extend his game offensively. Another finals run will need to heavily feature Leonard, evident with what we saw from him in the series against Miami. Projected record: 51-31 We're always keen to know what you think. How does the Southwest Division play out?