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NBA Standings Prediction: Western Conference

The NBA season is now underway. Who will make the playoffs? Who will miss the playoffs? On this article I will concentrate on the western conference. Let’s see if we agree on our predictions.

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Western Conference Playoff Locks

  1.  Denver Nuggets
  2.  Phoenix Suns
  3.  Los Angeles Lakers
  4.  New Orleans Pelicans
  5.  Sacramento Kings
  6.  Los Angeles Clippers

The most glaring absence in my playoff locks is the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies struggled last season after they lost Steven Adams to injury. Adams is already out for this season as well. Not only is Adams going to miss the entire season. Ja Morant has to miss the first 25 games due to suspension.

Last season the Grizzlies were 11-10 in the games that Ja Morant missed. One of the big reasons they were able to stay above water when Morant missed games over the last two seasons was the play of Tyus Jones. Jones is now with the Washington Wizards. The absence of Jones will really hurt them in the first 25 games.

The team that is making the biggest jump in the standings according to my predictions is the New Orleans Pelicans. This is of course predicated on their ability to stay healthy. Last season before Zion Williamson got hurt the Pelicans were flirting with the number one seed in the conference. After so many years of health issues, the basketball gods have to smile down on the Pelicans, right?!

Western Conference Play-In Teams

7. Oklahoma City Thunder

8. Golden State Warriors

9. Memphis Grizzlies

10. Houston Rockets

The team that might catch you off guard here is the Houston Rockets. I get it, the Rockets haven’t been a competitive team in the last few years. They have won 17, 20, and 22 games respectively over the last three seasons. This is not the same Houston team this year.

The new head coach is Ime Udoka. Udoka is a no nonsense coach who was in the NBA Finals as a head coach with the 2021-22 Boston Celtics. Houston signed veteran players to go along with their young emerging talent. The signing of Fred VanVleet, Dillon Brooks and Jeff Green will help this team in a major way. Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr will take the next step in their journey of becoming star players. This team will be a headache to deal with for each and every team they play this season.

Non-Playoff Teams

11. Minnesota Timberwolves

12. Dallas Mavericks

13. Utah Jazz

14. Portland Trailblazers

15. San Antonio Spurs

The western conference is loaded with talented teams which means that some talented players will miss not only the playoffs but also the play-in. The Minnesota Timberwolves have lots of talent. Anthony Edwards and Karl Anthony-Towns are two immensely talented players but the fit alongside Rudy Gobert is not one that brings the best out of them. I would not be shocked if Karl Anthony-Towns is on the trade block during the period before the trade deadline.

The Dallas Mavericks have two of the most talented offensive players in the NBA. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving will have their offense looking like an unstoppable force on certain nights. The players around these two are not good enough on the defensive end of the floor to make this team a playoff contender.

Do you agree with my prediction for the western conference standings?

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