It’s time to take a look at the Western Conference. There are many strong teams to choose from and many contenders that have high hopes for a successful season. Let’s take a look at each division and see what team can come out on top.
The first stop on our trip is the Northwest Division. As of right now this division looks a little upside down, and I think that when the season ends, the way the teams are stacked will look a little different. I believe that the winner that will come out of this division will be the Oklahoma City Thunder. If we look, we can see that they are in the middle of the division, but there is a lot of season left. We all know how well Russell Westbrook can play as the season progresses. Not only that but they were able to keep Paul George in the off season as well. He is another key piece to this team. With these two players Oklahoma City can make a deep run and take the division. I think the biggest challenger to them will be the Portland Trailblazers. Portland has a really good team and I think that a 1-2 punch of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum can go toe to toe with Westbrook and George. I just feel that Westbrook and George can both take over a game when it’s on the line and sink the winning basket for their team. Considering the other teams in the division, I think Denver has just got off to a really hot start, but I find it hard for them to keep that momentum all season. The Jazz have played some good games, it’s just that they don’t have a player or group of players to lean on yet. I think Donovan Mitchell can develop into that guy, he just isn’t there yet. The biggest surprise for me so far would be the Minnesota Timberwolves. I thought they could take the next step and improve themselves this year, but up to this point, they have stumbled out of the gate and can’t find any team chemistry. Maybe they can turn it around and right that ship. With all the young talent they have it should be sooner than later.
The second stop in this conference is the Pacific division. I don’t think there is any question of who comes out on top in this division. The clear winner is the Golden State Warriors. I think they win for multiple reasons. They have an all-star starting line-up, they score more points than any other team, they have the best 3-point percentage in the league, and they have won tough games before. The list goes on, but these are the top reasons. I don’t think there is another team that even comes close to competing in this division. Phoenix is still trying to find an identity for themselves. They have Devin Booker, but he can’t do it by himself. The Lakers have a lot of young talent and this gives them a good base. They also got the big addition this off season in getting LeBron James. The problem here is that they haven’t been able to gel as a team yet. In Cleveland, LeBron had a defined role and a veteran group of players with him. In Los Angeles, he is still looking for that defined role and his team is still very young yet. It’s going to take some time for this team to get better. The Sacramento Kings are a very young team. Most of these players have 3 or less years of NBA experience. Similar to the Lakers, this team is going to need time to grow and gel with one another. As of right now, this team has not played together long enough and they have no true leader on the floor yet. As for the Los Angeles Clippers, I don’t know what they are doing. It looks like a rebuild without calling it that. It looks like they are evaluating their team to see what they have. We know they want to attract big name free agents next year, but as for this year, the team looks to be evaluating what they have.
The last stop on our journey is the Southwest division. There is a little bit of a fight as of right now, but I think when it is all over, the Houston Rockets will be the winner in this division. I think Houston will win because they still have a big three in James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela. I also think Houston will win because the other teams in this division are not complete teams. Dallas has a bunch of young talent (especially Luka Doncic, my rookie of the year pick), but they have to figure out themselves and there are other teams that are much more developed then them. San Antonio looked lost when the season started, but might now be finding some chemistry to build on. After their roster changing by both additions and subtractions, they are looking to redefine themselves and find an identity for themselves. They are very similar to Dallas in the fact that they are trying to find out who they really are. As for Memphis and New Orleans, I think they both got off to hot starts, but I don’t think that is sustainable the rest of the season. Memphis does have Marc Gasol and Mike Conley who are solid players, but they can’t lead that team to a division title by themselves. New Orleans also has Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis, once again two great players, but this team has to bolster the rest of their roster before they can challenge for winning this division.