NBA Western Conference Rankings 2018-2019 Season

Check out my Eastern Conference Rankings if you missed it.

Lottery bound

15 - Sacramento Kings

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The Kings are slowly getting some young assets to build a fun team with guys like Marvin Bagley, Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein and DeAaron Fox. Also add in a guy like Zach Randolph, and there should be some entertaining games. This conference is too loaded for a team with some prospects to gain any relevance.

14 - Phoenix Suns

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Similar situation to the Kings, but the prospects are simply better. Many people are projecting Devin Booker to make an all-star leap, and DeAndre Ayton will battle Trae Young, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Luka Doncic for rookie of the year.

I actually wanted Bridges to be drafted by the Knicks (I love Knox, but didn't know I did at the time). Bridges is going to be a 3-and-D guy throughout his career, and who's to say he can't be that guy his rookie season?

Ariza should add some veteran leadership as well, but again, the West is simply too good for this team to compete. They also don't have a point guard, which is pretty important last time I checked.

13 - Memphis Grizzlies

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This is painful for me to put them this low. Outside of your New York Knicks, I have been rooting for the Grizzlies throughout Conley/Gasol/Randolph era. That era ended last season, and it showed with Conley going down plus Gasol playing through several injuries. I loved the Grizzlies, because they were our last look at 90's basketball. Just grit and grind.

The Grizzlies could go higher on this list if Conley and Gasol have healthy seasons, but that's a huge if. If I'm the GM of the Grizzlies, I'm trying to trade Gasol/Conley for any picks I can possibly get. As far as Chandler Parson's contract is concerned, I think you just have to eat it, no way any team is taking that.

If you don't see Memphis nearing .500 by January, expect a tank-fest. Also, Jaren Jackson Jr. might be the man.

Battle for the playoffs

12 - Dallas Mavericks

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https://twitter.com/NBASwissCheeseD/status/1052755649707294720

DONCIC DONCIC DONCIC! This boy is the real deal. He played against more talent overseas than any college players and dominated. His court vision is unprecedented at that age. Expect to see plenty of lob city highlights between Luka Doncic and DeAndre Jordan.... or really anyone to DeAndre Jordan.

The Mavs' starting lineup is potentially good enough to make the playoffs, plus they have a championship coach in Rick Carlisle.

They lose points due to a lack of depth and lack of defense.

11 - Minnesota Timberwolves

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Jimmy Butler is a top 10 player. I don't know what Thibodeau is going to do about this crazy situation, but I have to assume he will do everything in his power to keep him. If Butler is traded without anything even decent in return (think Spurs Kawhi trade for DeRozan), then Thibodeau will get fired by the end of the season, and he knows it. He doesn't have a choice but to hold his ground.

Unlike Butler, I actually happen to love Towns. 23-years-old, and might be the most gifted offensive big man ever (Jokic also could be, more to come on that).

Why do I have this team so low? Even with a sick defender like Butler and a great defensive coach in Thibodeau, the Wolves happen to suck at defense.

10 - Portland Trailblazers

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"But... They were the 3rd seed! Lillard was first team All-NBA, you a hater!"

The West was so close last year that literally one win was the difference from one of the top  seeds to one of the bottom seeds. They got swept by the Pelicans and were exposed for their crappy defense.

I think Lillard is going to have another fantastic year, and McCollum is a great side kick, but the Blazers have been meh at defense for years and have not improved their roster. Call me a broken record, but this conference is LOADED. I choose the Blazers as the team to slide to a non-playoff seed.

9 - Los Angeles Clippers

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I like to think of the Clippers as a better version of the Nets. They have tons of assets, they have a good coach (who might be a crappy GM), and you they're tough to scout against, because they have so many solid players, without necessarily a go-to guy.

You could argue, Harris, Lou Will, or Gallinari are their go-to, but I don't find that to be consistent enough to warrant a real argument. This is another team that you should really pay attention to during the trade deadline. They can put together some nice packages, for Kawhi, Butler etc. Not saying it's going to happen, but still something to keep an eye on.

Even if no trades happen, this roster is solid, not many weaknesses and great depth. Issue is, they're just not that good, so I have the other LA team above them.

8 - Los Angeles Lakers

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Even if your team sucks, if you have LeBron then you're automatically making the playoffs. Do the Lakers suck? Many might disagree. They have a combination of veterans who can't shoot, combined by prospects who can shoot. Who will mesh better with LeBron: The seasoned vets, or the young legs?

This Lakers team will run the floor and score in transition all season. There will be brain farts here and there, with JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson playing meaningful minutes, but with a talented young core, combined with the King's genius, the Lakers are going to be a great offensive team.

Defense is another story, the Lakers are going to get killed on defense, and LeBron is going to throw temper tantrums on the floor all season. That is why I don't have them higher.

7 -  New Orleans Pelicans

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Coach Alvin Gentry is going to try to make sure the Pelicans lead the league in pace this season. They have their Rondo replacement in Elfrid Payton: who I think is going to have a break out year. He has only played with crappy teams with no weapons. I always believed in him as a great distributer who can get to the rim at will.

Jrue Holiday has proven to be great at the 2 with his All-NBA Defensive prowess and ability to be another ball-handler who can setup for the 'Brow.

If Davis is healthy, he will be in contention for MVP, I just don't think he can win it if the Pelicans finish as the #7 seed.

6 - San Antonio Spurs

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The argument they will not make the playoffs and this ranking is stupid:

The Spurs' two best players thrive off making long two's in a league where 3's and layups reign supreme analytically.

The season ending ACL injury to Dejounte Murray is devastating, because he was the Spurs best defender outside of Kawhi and Danny Green, who by the way are in Toronto. Add in the loss of veteran leadership in Parker and Ginobli, and you could argue this is a lottery team.

I'll believe it when I see it. I feel much more comfortable putting the Spurs at #6 than at #10.

Counter argument:

DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge were both second team All-NBA last season. They are playing with the greatest coach in any sport ever. If healthy, that should be enough to comfortably make the playoffs and I shouldn't have to write any more words.

Should safely make the playoffs

5 - OKC Thunder

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Westbrook will be Westbrook. Paul George will hopefully figure out role. Every player on the Thunder are great athletes who have proven to be disruptive on defense. I happen to like the addition of Schroder, and he could easily play alongside Westbrook for some speedy lineups that sound scary in transition.

I also am excited to see their second units consisting of Nerlens Noel and Jerami Grant at the front court, bullying teams down low for a couple minutes. Westbrook might have his third triple-double season, he's that good.

4 - Denver Nuggets

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This is the young squad that will make the jump. Nikola Jokic is the anchor of this powerhouse of an offense, and if you have not watched this man play yet and you like basketball, do yourself a favor and watch him.

We have never seen a guy play basketball the way Nikola Jokic plays basketball. He's a legitimate ball handler and passer, but still has this goofy European big man speed. This wacky combination resulted in a triple double last night WITH ZERO TURNOVERS while going 11-11 from the field. Last guy to do that was Wilt Chamberlain.

He has a great supporting cast with guards who love to spread the floor, run in transition and score. They know that if you run hard in transition, the Joker will find you and reward you.

Could annoy the Warriors

3 - Utah Jazz

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The Jazz are my favorite team in the West to watch. They are going to be the frontrunner this season in defensive rankings if Gobert stays healthy. Donovan Mitchell should avoid a sophomore slump with such great support around him.

The glue guys like Ricky Rubio and Joe Ingles will help keep the engine running. I'm really looking forward to a healthy season for Dante Exum. He is only 23 years old and has the tools to be a great defender, which is a great fit for this squad.

Big fan of the fact that they can throw Favors and Gobert for big lineups, and also throw Crowder at the 4 or even 5 at times for super small-ball lineups. This roster is extremely versatile.

2 - Houston Rockets

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Melo and D'Antoni are reuniting! Melo will be fine offensively, and suck defensively. That will also be the story of this Rockets team. They lost two key wing defenders, so PJ Tucker will have to pick up the slack.

I think the Rockets will be worse this season specifically because they regressed defensively this offseason. Melo off the bench should be interesting; does he have some offensive gas left in the tank? He may be an asset off the bench who can provide some scoring while Harden/CP3 rest, but we'll see.

Despite being worse this season, Harden is in his prime, and CP3 has proven he can mesh beautifully with The Beard. The Rockets have their identity, and still have the potential be the best regular season team in the league.

Can Daryl Morey make a trade at this deadline for Jimmy Butler? Probably not, but that would make things very interesting.

Don't have a tier for this one, who cares?

1 - Golden State Warriors

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There is a narrative that the Dubs are vulnerable due to DeMarcus Cousins returning midseason after an achilles tear. Cousins could play zero games and the Warriors would still be clear cut favorites.

Everyone needs to remember that the Warriors' best lineup is Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Durant and Green. Until Cousins proves otherwise, that is what Steve Kerr will go with in crunch time lineups.

Remember guys like Zaza and Bogut would play 20 minutes a game, get some boards, play some defense and then chill on the bench in crunch time? That could be Boogie's destiny on this team after an achilles injury, except he can provide more production out of those minutes.

The Warriors are willing to roll the dice here, because there's no risk on their part. This is a much bigger risk for Cousins than the Warriors; he's on a cheap one year deal.

Expect the Warriors to coast all season and try to stay as healthy as possible for the playoffs. Even by coasting, they will be a high 60-win team.

 

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