Part two of my season prediction series. This time I give my predictions for the Western Conference, and how they will end up at the end of the regular season.
15. Los Angeles Lakers (21-61)
They added Luol Deng via free agency, Jose Calderon via trade and Brandon Ingram via the draft. Ingram is raw but his potential is undeniable. Deng was a solid pick up and Jose Calderon makes for a decent backup behind Russell. However, they are still a long way from winning games consistently, especially in the West.
I think they improve slightly on their 17-65 record from a season ago, but only marginally. The Lakers will be the punching bag yet again in the Western Conference.
14. Denver Nuggets (28-54)
They were 33-49 a season ago, exceeding expectations with a very young roster. This season I think they may drop off a bit purely due to the fact of how good the other teams around them are.
Jamal Murray was their only notable addition during the offseason. He should get minutes behind Gary Harris and Emmanuel Mudiay and he could also start while Harris misses time with a groin injury. They have a bunch of solid big’s who will hold down the front court too.
I like the upside the Nuggets have but I think they struggle this season. They do have the potential to be one of those teams that surprise people though if things go well.
13. Phoenix Suns (30-52)
Last season was rough for the Suns ending up with a 23-59 record and second to last in the Conference. Jared Dudley and Leandro Barbosa returned to the team in free agency and they brought in some nice young big men in Chriss and Bender.
They are going to be another team that struggles with the overall talent in the conference. The Suns have many good pieces, and staying healthy will be key to any success they could potentially have.
A few more solid draft picks and the Suns could be back in the playoffs within the next couple seasons, but this season I think they fall short.
12. Minnesota Timberwolves (32-50)
The Wolves are a wild card, they could do so well this season but I think their youth will hinder their progress at least for this season. The potential they have is undeniable. They have one of the best young players in the game, Karl Anthony-Towns. Andrew Wiggins is another player oozing with potential.
Cole Aldrich, Brandon Rush and Jordan Hill joined the team via free agency while the Wolves picked up Kris Dunn in the draft. There are question marks surrounding Ricky Rubio’s future with the team but for now he seems to be the stop-gap until Kris Dunn is ready.
The Wolves will be better than they were last season, but they wont quite make the full leap just yet; give it a couple more seasons.
11. New Orleans Pelicans (38-44)
The Pelicans can go either way. They either mesh well and meet expectations, or they slide to the bottom of the conference. Anthony Davis is still considered on of the best big’s in the league and they did add a few decent depth additions during free agency.
Injuries will be key for the Pelicans. Davis is expected to be ready for the season opener, but Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday may miss time to start the season; the Pelicans should still be in the playoff conversation.
10. Sacramento Kings (38-44)
Dave Joerger is really going to help this team more than people think. He is one of the top coaches in the league and for Sacramento to land such a talent was a big win. Last season was a disaster, but the Kings still managed to finish with their best record since the 2007-08 season ending up 33-49.
They added some solid veteran’s in Arron Afflalo, Anthony Tolliver, Garrett Temple, Matt Barnes and yes, Ty Lawson. The Kings are going to be overlooked again this season, but I can see them improving on both ends of the floor.
It will be tough in the West, but I quietly think the Kings will put together a solid season behind Joerger and Cousins.
9. Dallas Mavericks (40-42)
Harrison Barnes was the big get in free agency for the Mavericks, but was he worth the money? After averaging 6.9 points on 26.7 percent shooting during the preseason, things aren’t looking good.
They also managed to pick up Andrew Bogut via trade who will hold down the front court for them. Their depth is decent and after finishing 6th with a 42-40 record last season, I think they go 40-42 which will only be good for 9th.
8. Houston Rockets (41-41)
With James Harden now the full-time point guard and Mike D’Antoni implementing a fast paced offense, this team will be hard to stop on the defensive end. Harden was pretty much the point guard last season because of how much he has the ball but now he has the official point guard title and personally I like the move.
It will be a battle to get into the playoffs, but the Rockets should be able to get it together and find a way in again this season.
7. Oklahoma City Thunder (42-40)
It was a rough offseason for the Thunder purely based on the fact that Kevin Durant decided to bounce to Golden State. There was always talk that he would leave but no one thought that he actually would leave the Thunder.
Westbrook has the keys now and I still think he has what it takes to get this team some wins. Serge Ibaka was traded to the Magic for Victor Oladipo and Ersan Ilysova. The back court looks good for the Thunder moving forward and with Steven Adams and Enes Kanter holding down the front court they should be in good shape.
They certainly won’t be as dominant as they were a season ago, but they will still be a tough team to beat in the west and should finish in the bottom half of playoff territory.
6. Utah Jazz (46-36)
They just missed out on the playoffs last season at 40-42, but this Jazz team is going to have no problems this season. Injuries to Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and Derrick Favors are concerning, but if this team can stay healthy they are going to be a handful on both ends.
George Hill, Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw joined the team in the offseason and will all serve as solid to good veteran players. I can see this team sliding if things don’t go well regarding injuries and overall chemistry but I think they have it in them to come out 6th in the West.
5. Portland Trail Blazers (49-33)
After finishing 5th last season I can see them matching that again this season and they will have a slightly better record in doing so.
Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli both joined the team via free agency and will be good players to have off the bench. Lillard and McCollum can be considered one of the best back court’s in the league so they have that going for them.
I like the pieces they have around those two and I think they compliment them well, this team is all about chemistry and it should be enough to carry them to 49-33.
4. Memphis Grizzlies (51-31)
They took a step back last season finishing 7th in the West, but after re-tooling in the offseason I think they are ready to jump back up.
The injury list is daunting, but the addition of Chandler Parsons will turn out great and he will be a perfect fit. Troy Daniels also joined the team via free agency and he can provide that shooting and scoring they need off the bench. I like the move to bring Randolph off the bench too.
I have them ranked quite high, but the Grizzlies have it in them if their key players can stay healthy.
3. Los Angeles Clippers (56-26)
This might be the year of the Clippers. I have them finishing 3rd but I can see them being a very dangerous team in the playoffs. Paul, Griffin and Jordan all return and look to finally get this team over the hump.
Marreese Speights, Raymond Felton, Brandon Bass and Alan Anderson are all solid additions to the bench. Depth is key to a deep playoff run and the players added during the offseason certainly help with that.
Watch out for the Clippers this year, because I have a feeling they are going to finally break out of their shell.
2. San Antonio Spurs (66-16)
The Spurs are gonna Spur. While they lost Tim Duncan to retirement, they did bring in Pau Gasol and David Lee to try to compensate for the loss. While the Spurs roster continues to age, they still have what it takes to compete at a very high level.
A lineup featuring LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol and Kawhi Leonard is going to be formidable and tough to handle. The immortal Greg Poppovich will get this team working and the Spurs have depth sorted.
I see them giving the Warriors a run for their money, the Spurs are stacked and more dangerous than ever.
1. Golden State Warriors (69-13)
They wont beat last years incredible regular season, but they will still be the best team in the NBA. It was a disappointing end to such a dominant campaign last season, but after reloading with Kevin Durant, they may very well feature one of the best rosters ever.
David West and Zaza Pachulia joined the team via free agency but they did lose Andrew Bogut. The loss of Bogut could be bigger than people think, he was the one that freed up guys like Curry and Thompson and did all the dirty work. That is why I have them winning fewer games.
Yes they added Kevin Durant, but there are question marks as to whether this team will mesh well. With so many talented players on one team, it will either go really well, or end up a disaster.
That wraps up part two of my season predictions for the Western Conference. Part one can be found here. Now for the real thing, let the NBA season begin!