The West is always tight. Here are five teams I feel can separate themselves.
Yesterday I covered the top 5 NBA contenders in the Eastern Conference. Today we're making our way out west. Here are my top 5 teams in the NBA's Western Conference.
1. Golden State Warriors
Automatically #1 after winning it all. Despite some drama with Draymond, this is still the top team in the West. They score the shit out of the ball and play an effective brand of defense. They have a mix of vets and rising talent, which seems to work to perfection. If Wiseman can stay on the floor this team is going to be even better. I'm also keeping an eye on Jonathan Kuminga, a freak athlete who needs to refine his skillset.
2. LA Clippers
"Stacked" is a word that comes to mind when I look at this roster. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are both back and healthy. They also acquired the once-incredible John Wall. Zubac will hold it down in the paint and there will be an army of good players around the two-headed monster of George and Leonard. On-court chemistry will need work, since no one has played a lot with each other. Injuries are also top-of-mind with the Clippers. Head Coach Tyron Lue will need to take a class in load management.
3. Denver Nuggets
The 2x MVP Nikola Jokić finally has his right-hand man back in Jamal Murray. These dudes play some poetic pick-and-roll basketball, and I am excited to see it again this season. Michael Porter Jr. should be a key contributor for this team if his fragile spine can handle the minutes. I think Denver needs another stud to make an impact in the postseason, but a lot can happen between now and then with role guys elevating their play.
4. Memphis Grizzlies
Last year they finished in the West as a two-seed, maybe exceeding expectations. I don't foresee that happening this season, even with MVP candidate Ja Morant kicking ass. There is no doubt the Grizz have depth; the departure of Kyle Anderson is a big knock, but they will still be able to lean on the bench. Their biggest issue is the lousy 3 ball. Teams who hold it down inside the arc will present issues for Memphis if they're not splashing from deep.
5. Phoenix Suns
Ugly playoff exit from the Suns last season. Are they going to be a regular season menace and postseason bust this time around? I'm really not sure. They rely so heavily on CP, Booker, and Bridges with a somewhat thin bench. Crowder wants to dip and reports are out that Ayton also isn't psyched to be there. Maybe there are more issues in the front office than a shitty ex-owner. Still, they have playmakers and scorers and a rising talent like Cam Johnson. They won 64 games last year for a reason. We know they can be a very successful unit, especially their starting five. The question is can they be that unit throughout the playoffs?