You Can't Have A Playoff Prediction Without Talking About The Western Conference
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You Can't Have A Playoff Prediction Without Talking About The Western Conference

With the standings never set in stone, and everyone's record being within four or five games, things are getting very interesting as we begin to project which teams are going to be playing in prime time and which teams will be packing their bags for the year.

You Can't Have A Playoff Prediction Without Talking About The Western Conference

For me, the Eastern Conference playoff picture was a relatively obvious one. The Celtics, Raptors, Bucks, and 76ers are talented and filled with youth. They are on top of the East, while the rest of the Eastern Conference kind of just... falls in line. But the West... it's called the "Wild Wild West" for a reason.

1. Golden State Warriors

Yes, they have their fair share of injuries and locker room drama, but the Warriors are still far and away the best team in the league. They are currently fourth in the Western Conference, and that's with Demarcus Cousins out for at least another month, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green both out with injuries, and Kevin Durant unofficially announcing that he may be leaving after this season. This team is just too talented, too battle-tested, and too well constructed to not dominate their way to the top of the conference by the end of the regular season.

2. Denver Nuggets

This team went from barely missing the playoffs two years in a row to the top of the conference. The Nuggets are young, talented, and they play strong team basketball. Nikola Jokic has asserted himself as a primary facilitator at the small ball center position, and their backcourt of Jamal Murray and Gary Harris is giving the Nuggets 17 PPG. This team has taken a significant step this season, and I see them riding it out through the playoffs.

3. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are easily the surprise team so far this season. Currently sitting atop the Western Conference with a 15 – 6 record, the Clippers are far and way surpassing expectations, considering they do not have a definitive super star and were just a lottery team last year. With Tobias Harris leading the charge, averaging 20 PPG, the Clippers have four players averaging double-digit points. They are putting the league on notice that despite "Lob City" being over, they are still a good team. This is the team that will end up causing the most problems, considering every night a different guy could gash you for 20+ points.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder

Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Steven Adams are just that good. The Thunder have been the fourth seed every year since Kevin Durant left, but are still managing to stay on top of the Western Conference after losing their best player. This team has significantly improved defensively since trading away Carmelo Anthony; Dennis Schroder, who they acquired in the trade, is giving them almost 17 PPG. That's exactly what Melo gave them last year, only Schroder can do it on fewer shot attempts while providing more defense.

5. Los Angeles Lakers

They have Lebron James on their team, so regardless of the conference, the man is easily worth a playoff spot. They do not have consistent three pointing shooting, but they have a plethora of players who can create their own shot. Their young core of Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart provides fast-paced length on the defensive end. They also provide play-making through their ability to move the ball and slash to the basket on the offensive end. Veterans like Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, and Tyson Chandler will have a more prominent role during the last month or so of the regular season as they push towards the playoffs.

6. Houston Rockets

Despite the significant drop off from last season, the Rockets are still a playoff caliber team. What they lack in defense from players like Trevor Ariza and Mbah a Moute, they make up for through their ability to score the basketball in a hurry. James Harden and Chris Paul are both willing scorers who also have the ability to facilitate with the best of them. Although I do not believe they will go as far in the playoffs as they did last season, they are still a viable threat in the Western Conference.

7. Portland Trailblazers

This team will make the playoffs just off of guard play. In a tough Western Conference, where there is an All Star caliber guard on practically every team, the Trail Blazers are lucky enough to have two. Damian Lillard is averaging almost 27 PPG, and C.J. McCollum is averaging a little over 21 PPG. This team can hang in a shoot out with any other team in the conference.

8. Minnesota Timberwolves

Since trading Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia, all of the advanced metrics show that Robert Covington has actually improved the Timberwolves' defense. He may not be a star player, but he is playing like a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Along with that, Derrick Rose is reviving his career this season by averaging almost 20 PPG on 50% shooting from the floor. They may just barely squeak into the playoffs by fending off teams like the Spurs, Pelicans, and Jazz, but if they do, it will be because of their defense.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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