Is there a need for explanation? The offseason has slowed down a lot, with the top free agents already off the market, so now, we here at Golden Gate Sports are going to make a list of the who we think the top 10 teams in the Western Conference are going to be, in order of course.
Many teams are better off now than they were before, and other teams have fallen into bad positions. How will it turn out?
1. San Antonio Spurs:
It may seem daring to put the San Antonio Spurs at the top of this list, but hey, as history has shown us, there’s no reason to believe that they’re going to be worse this season. Before the 2012-2013 season, many analysts were putting the Spurs at a lower seeded 6th and 7th. I’m sure the Spurs put any doubts to rest by showing everyone that they are still capable of getting the job done. They almost beat out the Thunder for the 1st seed.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder:
OKC would undoubtedly be on the top of this list, if they had a stellar 6th man like last year, or the year before that. As of now, however, they don’t. There’s still plenty of time left in the offseason, but as of now, they’re at the mercy of the Spurs, and pretty much any other team that makes another big move. A healthy Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, however, is enough to get the job done and finish second. Is it enough to make it to the Finals? No.
3. Houston Rockets:
For the Houston Rockets, it could go two completely different ways. They could finish as a superpower in the west, as one of the top seeds, or they could be horrible, like the 2012-2013 Lakers, and finish at the 10th seed. I desperately want the latter to happen, but as much as it kills me to say, I don’t think that’s going to be the case. James Harden and Dwight Howard can be the lone stars in Houston that are supported by a great crew like Chandler Parsons. The Rockets are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
4. Golden State Warriors:
Just when you thought that the Warriors couldn’t get any better than they already were, they signed Andre Iguodala. They did lose Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry to free agency, but they signed replacements that are almost as good. With a strong starting lineup, the Warriors could even finish ahead of the fourth seed. Right now, however, they’re at the mercy of these three teams above them. Whether the Nuggets or Grizzlies have a better record than the Warriors doesn’t matter, because they will be winning the Pacific Divison.
5. Los Angeles Clippers:
The Clippers are a tough team to beat, and they’ve shown that in the past couple of years. Now that they’ve re-signed Chris Paul, and have become a shooting team, they are ready to make a championship run. Still, however, there is too much competition in the Western Conference to finish much higher than they are at the 5th seed.
6. Memphis Grizzlies:
The Grizzlies really showed that they have what it takes to compete when they made it to the Western Conference finals in the playoffs. The did, of course, get swept by the Spurs, but they are a great team with a lot of young pieces. Unfortunately for them, however, a lot of the other Western Conference teams have improved drastically, while they have stayed at the same skill level. If they want to grab home court advantage, they’re going to have to make a big move.
7. Denver Nuggets:
The Nuggets have had a really unfortunate off-season. First, they fired their head coach, George Karl, who was the coach of the year. Before that, they fired their general manager, who was GM of the year. Then, they lost Andre Iguodala, arguably their most important player, to the Warriors, who had eliminated them from the playoffs in 2013. It hasn’t been a great off-season for the Nuggets. Despite all of that, their lineup is deep, and they will be able to make the playoffs, and possibly make some noise against the Thunder.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves:
Well, this is unlikely, isn’t it? The Timberwolves have had a quietly productive offseason. They have a solid starting lineup, and two very capable big men, who will hopefully be ready to play come the start of the 2013-2014 season. With one of the best young point guards in the NBA, and some of the best bench players, the Timberwolves are looking to finally get back into the playoffs since the Kevin Garnett years. Can they actually do it?
9. Dallas Mavericks:
Dirk Nowitzki has made it clear that he wants to win, and doesn’t really care about the money anymore. The Mavericks’ biggest move this offseason was bringing in UFA Monta Ellis. Many are saying that he is going to be a bust, bust Marc Cuban disagrees, and thinks his team had a great offseason. Ellis should be able to help the Mavericks, and with a facilitator like Jose Calderon in the backcourt, the Mavericks are going to do well. They could slip into the 8th or 7th seed, but on paper, they’re looking in from the oustide.
10. Los Angeles Lakers:
The Lakers will likely finish 10th, or maybe the Portland Trailblazers. What’s not going to happen, however, is the Lakers making the playoffs. I’m not saying that the NBA is rigged, but the Lakers made the playoffs for a reason. That reason wasn’t because they played excellent basketball in the final games of the season. This season, unless Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol have flashbacks, is going to be even more catastrophic than last season.