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Way Too Early Predictions of the NBA Playoffs (Western Conference)

Way Too Early Predictions of the NBA Playoffs (Western Conference)

After an exciting offseason for the Western Conference, it’s time to look at the current season.  With the NBA season officially in full swing mode, it’s time to continue our series from last week, by predicting the standings for the Western Conference.

 

Dallas Mavericks

Last Season: 13th

This Season: 11th

As Dirk approaches retirement, the Mavericks have to look into new blood to become competitive for the next decade.

Thankfully, they made the right draft picks in both Smith Jr. and Doncic, with the latter fulfilling his playmaking potential.

Adding the ‘the one that got away’ Jordan should add to the ‘W’ columns along with the new additions. 

Playoffs should still remain out of reach for them.

 

Denver Nuggets

Last Season: 9th

This Season: 6th

With Millsap coming back for a full season (fingers crossed), the additions of Thomas and the development of their young core, the Nuggets should be ready to take the next step by making the playoffs.

If Porter Jr. returns fully healthy, it should provide a nice boost to their already potent offence anchored by Jokic.

Expect big things from this young team this upcoming season.

 

Golden State Warriors

Last Season: 2nd

This Season: 1st

The defending champs show no signs of slowing down with the addition of Cousins.

Their talent level is too good for any finish outside of top 2 in the Western Conference, despite the tough competition.

Jones and Looney both showed they can hold the fort in the opening games until Cousins return, which helps their regular season campaign.

3-peat? Probably.


Houston Rockets

Last Season: 1st

This Season: 2nd

While their main competition got better, it seems like the Rockets didn’t.

Retaining their core group was a good move but swapping Ariza for Anthony seems to be more of a downgrade for their team.

Don’t get us wrong Anthony is a great player, but Ariza’s skillsets fit the Rockets’ game plan more than Anthony’s.

A case of 1 step forward, 2 steps back.

 

Los Angeles Clippers

Last Season: 10th

This Season: 12th

The Clippers team consist of a full team of solid role players.

But you can’t win in this league with just role players, you need stars to finish close games and carry your offence in important stretches.

This is the exact problem that the Clippers will be facing this coming season.

Their starting line-up could probably put up numbers, but winning games would be an issue down the stretch in tight games.

Guess the spotlight is back to purple and gold.


Los Angeles Lakers

Last Season: 11th

This Season: 3rd

Speaking of purple and gold, last season’s Lakers were just the Ball drama show.

However, help has come in the form of superstar Lebron James, who should lead and stabilise the team to a much better record.

Although a 3rd place finish might be a bit high, we’ve learnt not to doubt Lebron in general.

But his will should be sufficient to make the playoffs even in the tough West.

A good time to be a Laker fan.

 

Memphis Grizzlies

Last Season: 14th

This Season: 13th

The grit and grind are going to have to grind some more.

A disappointing season all-around despite re-signing their best player in Conley, the Grizzlies hardly made any progress this offseason and to a certain extent, regressed.

When you combine a boring team with a losing team, you get the Grizzlies. At least for this season.

Keep grinding… I guess.

 

Minnesota Timberwolves

Last Season: 8th

This Season: 9th

On this writing, Jimmy Butler is still with the Timberwolves.

If and when he is indeed traded in the near future, expect the Timberwolves to sink especially if there are no major pieces in return.

Make no mistake, Butler helps to win games. His talent level on both ends of the floor often makes the difference for them last season.

Towns should finally progress into a two-way player, with a renewed focus on defence. Hopefully, Wiggins follow suit.

That being said, the West might be too tough for the Wolves to squeeze into the playoffs.

 

New Orleans Pelicans

Last Season: 6th

This Season: 10th

Ah… Anthony Davis, how I pity you so.

The franchise cannot be blamed entirely - they recovered nicely after losing Cousins by adding Randle and Okafor.

However, they made no moves to strengthen their wings, which still remain their Achilles heel for the upcoming season.

There’s only so many good years left on Davis’ body and talent and it will be a waste if he is not able to compete or go far in the playoffs because of a lacklustre team.

It’s gonna be a tough season for Davis. Again.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

Last Season: 4th

This Season: 4th

PG’s decision to stay in OKC surprised many, especially Laker fans everywhere.

However, it helps the Thunder significantly. A good fit with Westbrook’s playing style, George is capable of playing second-fiddle and carrying the team as needed.

Additions of Schroder and Noel boost a weak bench from the previous season.

The only reason they do not improve in their standings is that of improvements made by their rivals.

Be prepared for some loud Thunder.

 

Phoenix Suns

Last Season: 15th

This Season: 14th

A little low on the list, the Suns have made strides that may not seem fair to their standings.

Booker is coming into his own as seen from the opening game and Ayton has mostly looked like the No. 1 pick that he is.

Ariza’s insertion into the team has instantly boosted both sides of the floor for the Suns, but in the tough West, it might not be enough.

 

Portland Trailblazers

Last Season: 3rd

This Season: 8th
Last season’s disappointing playoff exit should still play in the minds of Lillard and McCollum but it doesn’t seem like there’s anything the can be done about it.

Stauskas and Curry should provide much-needed shooting and floor spacing but it may not be enough to improve from last season.

Especially with the loss of Davis and Napier, who both contributed mightily last season.

What used to be an exciting team to watch out for, has become a sad team to root for

 

Sacramento Kings

Last Season: 12th

This Season: 15th

The myriad of bad moves from the Kings’ management should finally manifest itself this season. 

And rightfully so.

Trading away Cousins for Hield and some bad draft picks from the past, these piled on and should finally bear fruit this season.

Fox has the tools to make it in this league and same goes for Bagley as well.

However, the team culture, the timeline and the management probably won’t help them.

 

San Antonio Spurs

Last Season: 7th

This Season: 7th

Losing Leonard is tough but with Popovich still there and a solid core to work with, the Spurs should continue their streak of making the playoffs with outstanding coaching.

DeRozan is no Leonard, but he isn’t a scrub either.

They should bounce back well from the loss of their Finals MVP but without a talented core, the Spurs shouldn’t be making many headlines either.

 

Utah Jazz

Last Season: 5th

This Season: 5th

Last season’s surprise team won’t be surprising anymore

Mitchell’s 2nd season should be highly anticipated, as he carried this team on his back last season into the playoffs.

Quite a feat for a rookie in a team where no one expected big things because of the loss of Hayward.

Now a sophomore, it should be exciting to see him come into his own into a superstar player.

 

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