The NBA season is finally here. With all the moves that were made this off-season, I am excited for this season. Let’s take a look at the western conference and see which teams will make the playoffs.
1. Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets went 54-28 last year and finished as the 2nd seed. They lost to the Portland Trailblazers in the second round of the playoffs.
I like the Nuggets to finish in first place in the west during the regular season. Jokic will continue to get better and really push for the MVP. I love the addition of Jerami Grant. Jamal Murray will improve as well. The x-factor for this team is Michael Porter Jr. If he can stay healthy, he gives them some real depth on their bench that will help win games during the regular season.
2. Houston Rockets
Houston finished 53-29 last year and was the 4th seed. They ended up losing to the Warriors in the second round of the playoffs.
Let’s just be honest here, Houston always wins games during the regular season. James Harden will continue to put up absurd numbers. The addition of Russell Westbrook will help this team. They will be able to stagger the minutes of Russ and Harden during the season because both players have proven they can takeover games by themselves. They will win over 50 games again and be the second seed in the west.
3. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers went 48-34 last year and finished as the 8th seed. They lost in the first round to the Warriors.
The Clippers had the biggest off-season out of every team in the league. With the additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, they are immediately a favorite to win the championship. Their defense is going to be the best in the league with George, Leonard, and Beverly. Then you got Lou Williams coming off the bench who can score at will. The only reason I don’t have them finishing higher in the west is because George will miss the start of the season and they will rest Kawhi throughout the season.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers went 37-45 last year and finished 10th in the conference. They failed to make the playoffs.
The Lakers made a huge splash in the off-season by adding Anthony Davis to pair up with Lebron. I believe those two will be the best duo in the league. Lebron looks to be on a mission this season and is extremely focused on winning. The Lakers also added some depth to their lineup in Dwight Howard, Danny Green, Quinn Cook, Avery Bradley, and Jared Dudley. If Davis can stay healthy, expect this team to win a bunch of games.
5. Utah Jazz
Utah went 50-32 last year and finished 5th. They lost in the first round to the Houston Rockets.
This team quietly had a great off-season. They added Mike Conley Jr. and Bojan Bogdanovic. Conley will take the pressure off of Mitchell and allow him to be more of a slasher like he should be. Gobert will most likely win defensive player of the year once again. I believe it will take awhile for this team to gel and find their grove, but once they do, they will be a scary team come playoff time.
6. Portland Trail Blazers
Portland went 53-29 last year and finished 3rd. They lost to Warriors in the conference finals.
Portland gets doubted every single year. This team surprised a lot of people last year by winning as much as they did. I believe this team will digress a little bit because of how tough the west is this year. Lillard is a dark horse MVP candidate and McCollum will be better as well. Now if Hassan Whiteside can produce like he used too before signing that massive contract in Miami, then this team can win more games then I think they will.
7. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs went 48-34 and finished 7th last year. They lost in the first round to the Denver Nuggets.
I just can’t imagine a world where the Spurs are not in the playoffs as long as Gregg Popovich is coaching. Derrick White took a massive step in the playoffs last year. Dejounte Murray will be healthy and they still have Aldridge and DeRozan. This team will be in the playoffs like always.
8. Dallas Mavericks
Dallas went 33-49 and finished 13th last year.
This is my surprise team this year. Luka Doncic was the rookie of the year last year and he is going to be significantly better this year. They added some key players in Kristaps Porzingis and Seth Curry. Rick Carlisle is still a top 5 coach in the league. If Kristap can be 90% of what he was in New York, then this team will surprise everyone and make the playoffs.
Feel free to comment and let me know what you think of the western conference.
Featured Image: Western Conference Logo. Photo Credit: OSGA