NBA Western Conference predictions

NBA season still young with wide open field for championship trophy

Logan Bland, Sports columnist

1. Golden State Warriors: There is a lot to like about this Warriors team. They have veterans, they have shooters, they have youth, but most importantly they have experience. A championship run is obviously the best thing to happen to any franchise but for last year’s Warriors team it was extra important. It gave their great young core an early preview of what is expected of them going forward.

2. Los Angeles Clippers: Perhaps the deepest roster in all the league. A healthy Kawhi and Paul George. Having those two in a whole gives you a fighting chance. This is it for the Clippers. This team is not getting any younger and you don’t know how many fully healthy years of Kawhi you are going to get.

3. Memphis Grizzlies: Yet another deep roster with superstar Ja Morant this team can be scary. I fully expect Ja to take yet another leap and I expect Ziaire Williams to take the year 1 to year 2 leap of progression.

4. Denver Nuggets: You have the back-to-back MVP in Nikola Jokic and you are finally getting Jamaal Murray back from his ACL injury and getting Michael Porter Jr back hopefully healthy. Jokic was able to carry the Nuggets to a 6 seed in the stacked West last year.

5. Phoenix Suns: They managed to bring back Deandre Ayton but all in all really didn’t improve all that much. Nevertheless, they are still talented with Devin Booker and Chris Paul leading the team.

6. Dallas Mavericks: Luka Doncic is him. However, they didn’t do enough to put them atop of the West. I love the Jaden Hardy selection in the draft and the Christian Wood pickup was great. But they lost Jalen Brunson and as mentioned just didn’t add all that much to improve the roster. But once you get into the playoffs with Luka Doncic, anything can happen.

7. New Orleans Pelicans: This team is still learning but talented, nevertheless. This team’s success really relies on Zion Williamson’s health. I don’t think they can produce to the maximum level without him and Brandon Ingram healthy.

8. Minnesota Timberwolves: Does Rudy Gobert really put this team over the top? Maybe. They were the 7 seed last year and improved the roster to an extent. Just really a confusing squad.

9. Portland Trail Blazers: A healthy Damian Lillard does not boost this team is a stacked West. Anfernee Simons is a stud and they added Jerami Grant and drafted Shaedon Sharpe. Not good enough.

10. Los Angeles Lakers: Two words, No shooting.

11. Sacramento Kings: The Kings and the Lakers could go either way for the last play in spot, but I’ll give the upper hand to the team that has LeBron James. Keegan Murray is my pick to win rookie of the year and De’Aaron Fox is going to continue playing good basketball along with Domantas Sabonis, but they just are not there yet.

12. Utah Jazz: The Jazz don’t have a lot of explanation; I feel this roster has too many good pieces to be the worst team in the NBA. Danny Ainge has a bit more trades to make.

13. Houston Rockets: The great young core is going to have some very high highs and some very low lows. The defense is a problem and needs to be fixed.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder with Chet Holmgren being out for the year with a foot injury are nearly identical to last year’s team resulting in them being one of the worst teams in basketball. The tank lives on.

15. The San Antonio Spurs: Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassel, Jeremy Sochan and one of the greatest coaches of all time in Gregg Popovich is going to result in some nice things. It’s hard to say such a well-coached team is going to finish a bottom 3 team in the league but, I think they are going to do everything right in the hopes to draft French phenom Victor Wembanyama.