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2018-2019 NBA Team Season Preview: Western Conference

With the new NBA season upon us, basketball fans worldwide are excited to see it will pan out. Without further ado, let’s look at how we feel the Western Conference will shape up this season.

Dallas Mavericks: The Mavs made a big splash over the summer in signing DeAndre Jordan. He gives Dallas a bonafide all-star, something that they haven’t had since Dirk Nowitzki left his prime. Add in the fact that rookie Luka Doncic looks to be worth ALL of the hype surrounding him, and the Mavericks are looking like they may actually make a playoff push this season. While they wouldn’t have the talent to get out of the 1st round, all signs are pointing towards an improved season for Dallas.



2018-19 NBA Championship Hopes: Low

Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets have a very interesting mix of talent on their roster. Led by all-star center Nikola Jokic, the team is poised to make a playoff appearance this season. The signing of point guard Isaiah Thomas is newsworthy, but it’s hard to say how effective he will be. While this team has the pieces to be a playoff tam in the West, they simply don’t measure up to other top level teams in the conference.
2018-19 NBA Championship Hopes: Low

Golden State Warriors: There isn’t much to say on the two-time defending NBA champions. Adding superstar center DeMarcus Cousins in the offseason may seem like an unfair move, but it’s hard to say how he’ll rebound after coming off of his Achilles injury. Regardless, there isn’t any reason whatsoever why the Warriors shouldn’t AT THE ABSOLUTE WORST reach their fifth straight NBA finals this season. It’s their world, we’re all just simply living in it.



2018-19 NBA Championship Hopes: Very High

 

Houston Rockets: Houston is the only Western conference team with a true chance at dethroning the Warriors. Their seven-game series against Golden State last season showed that. Still led by James Harden and Chris Paul, the Rockets will look to pick up where they left off last year. Losing key defensive players such as Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute will prove to be costly, and Houston’s overall team play will suffer because of it. The signing of Carmelo Anthony will be a nice boost to an already explosive offense, but time will tell if his ego will allow him to come off of the bench. Barring any significant injury, Houston should at least find themselves back in the conference finals this season.
2018-19 NBA Championship Hopes: High

Los Angeles Clippers: With DeAndre Jordan’s departure to Dallas this summer, the “Lob City” era in Los Angeles is officially over. While they are led by an experience hall-of-fame coach in Doc Rivers, the Clippers just don’t have the adequate level of talent to survive in the Western conference. Nothing should be expected from this team this season.
2018-19 NBA Championship Hopes: Very Low



Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers caught the biggest free agency fish in Lebron James, and its a great move for the franchise. Having not reached the playoffs since 2013, the Lakers were in desperate need of a superstar to help return the team to some level of prominence. While Lebron’s greatness is unquestionable, he alone can’t turn the franchise’s fortune around. James should be a great leader to mentor young players such as Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and Kyle Kuzma. If these players don’t turn into quality pieces however, then there’s only so far that the Lakers can hope to go. Look for Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka to make at least one major trade before the deadline.
2018-19 NBA Championship Hopes: 50/50 Shot

Memphis Grizzlies: The Grit and Grind days of the Grizzlies are far behind them. Last season was an abysmal season for the team, and this one doesn’t look to be any better. Veteran leaders Marc Gasol and Michael Conley are only getting older, and much of the cast that made them successful in the past is long gone. Forward Dillon Brooks had a solid rookie season last year, but other than that there simply isn’t much to look forward to for Memphis this year.
2018-19 NBA Championship Hopes: Very Low

Minnesota Timberwolves: Minnesota is by far the most discombobulated franchise in the NBA these days. The Jimmy Butler saga has undoubtedly become a distraction for the franchise, and one has to wonder what type of effect it will have on the team’s young core. Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins are expected to lead the Wolves into the future, but this Jimmy butler situation has drug both of their names in the proverbial mud over the past month. Regardless of how the situation pans out, Minnesota just simply isn’t mature enough to take the next step towards being a serious conference threat.
2018-19 NBA Championship Hopes: Low

New Orleans Pelicans: With the departure of DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans went back to only having one superstar-caliber player in Anthony Davis. While many are projecting Davis to have an MVP worthy year, it still wouldn’t be enough to push the Pelicans deep into the playoffs. With that in mind, one has to wonder how much longer AD will tolerate disappointing seasons in the Bayou. He’ll be eligible for a super max contract in 2019, but if this season proves to be another mediocre one, it wouldn’t be surprising for Davis to look to play elsewhere in the very near future.
2018-19 NBA Championship Hopes: Low



Oklahoma City Thunder: With Carmelo Anthony gone, the Thunder’s overall team play should look to find balance once again. Led by Russell Westbrook and Paul George, there’s no question in anyone’s mind that this is a bonafide playoff team. Comparing their best players to the best players of other top Western conference teams however, its very reasonable that OKC will once again come up short this season. The Thunder simply don’t have enough talent to make finals push this season, and that won’t change unless at least one more all-star caliber player is brought onto the roster.
2018-19 NBA Championship Hopes: 50/50 Shot

Phoenix Suns: The Suns certainly got their man in Number draft pick Deandre Ayton. Alongside Devin Booker, the team finally looks to have a bright future ahead. The additions of Trevor Ariza and Jamal Crawford bring valuable veteran leadership to the team, and new head coach Igor Kokoskov is a respectable hire for the franchise. Phoenix may be on the verge of having a better season than many expected.
2018-19 NBA Championship Hopes: Low

Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers have been a borderline title contender for years, and it looks to be more of the same for this season. Led by the dynamic backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, Portland will definitely find themselves in the NBA playoffs again. They simply don’t have enough to be taken seriously however, and this will show in due time. Trade rumors surrounding both Lillard and McCollum have been circling the franchise for a couple of seasons now, and if this season proves to have another disappointing finish, there isn’t any other alternative than to move one of them next offseason.



2018-19 NBA Championship Hopes: Low

Sacramento Kings: With the drafting of Marvin Bagley III, the Kings unquestionably have a bright future ahead. Alongside De’Aaron Fox, the team looks to have a young and deadly duo with the potential to grow together in the years to come. Those years however, are still far away, and nothing significant should be expected from the Kings this season.
2018-19 NBA Championship Hopes: Very Low

San Antonio Spurs: Finally freeing themselves of the Kawhi Leonard nightmare during this past summer, the Spurs look to have returned to some sense of normalcy. Demar Derozan isn’t a bad player whatsoever, and is capable of leading a team into the playoffs. With the retirement of Manu Ginobili and the departure of Tony Parker to Charlotte, San Antonio is undoubtedly venturing into a new era this season. Head Coach Gregg Popovich is still the greatest coach of this generation, and will ensure San Antonio’s spot in the playoffs this season. Venturing deep into the playoffs however, will be a task that these Spurs may not have to depth to accomplish.
2018-19 NBA Championship Hopes: 50/50 Shot

 

Utah Jazz: Led by an all-star in the making in Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz certainly have much to look forward to. With an impressive showing in last year’s playoffs, the team is poised to only get getter this season. While Mitchell and company may not be ready to take that next step quite yet, this season has the potential to put other conference foes on notice that Utah is a team to keep a very close eye on.
2018-19 NBA Championship Hopes: 50/50 Shot

-Ashanti Seabron


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