Lebron James’ move to the west coast has many NBA fans shook and others jumping for joy. Those reactions come from the obvious impact James has on every team he’s a member of.
This move essentially makes the Eastern Conference deserted territory, while the west is, well, the Wild, Wild West. Lebron’s move to the Los Angeles Lakers may be sexy in appearance but his NBA Finals chances took a significant hit.
Here’s an extremely-too-early prediction of how Suave Report projects the order in which Western Conference teams will finish this upcoming season, based off what we’ve seen thus far during this offseason.
1. Golden State Warriors.
Do I have to say it? The team that leisurely won 58 games last season en route to their third NBA title in four years just acquired the best big man in basketball. Whether DeMarcus Cousins returns close to 100 percent or not, the Warriors improved with this pickup.
The Warriors and the Rockets could compete for the top spot but it’ll be hard for the Rockets to keep up that pace from last year. The Warriors will have to play with more urgency (due to a couple close calls this postseason), or the Rockets will have to play with less and not use Chris Paul as much during the regular season. Those two factors will determine who’s No. 1 and No. 2.
2. Houston Rockets
After winning 65 games last year and taking the Warriors seven games in the Western Conference Finals, the Rockets have a legitimate chance to fine-tune the few flaws and come back stronger in 2018-2019. As mentioned previously, the Rockets went too hard during the regular season. Chris Paul’s injury was sad and unfortunate, yet inevitable due to the pace he was playing at. If they cut his minutes down early in the season and slowly build them up for the playoffs, there will be a better, more durable version of CP3 come playoff time.
The first two were a lock. This is where things get interesting. Three to five should be very close. All three teams have interesting stories heading into the season and will be noticeably better than they were in 2017-2018.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
The morale around this organization is at an all-time high right now and weirdly enough, it’ll improve more after they waive Carmelo Anthony to save on the historically-high luxury tax bill.
We are all aware that Paul George returned, which shocked everybody, especially with how the season ended. George stood as a testimony of Russell Westbrook as a teammate and person. It showed if you are of the weak-minded, Westbrook is a bad fit for you. If you’re strong-minded like he is, yet submissive enough not to clash with his personality, it’s a match made in heaven. With that being said, OKC will play an inspired brand of ball this season and the offense will be less stagnant than last season.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
It’s showtime, baby. The Lakers are back! After seven seasons of turmoil, they’re relevant in the NBA again. That won’t come without struggle, though. Lebron’s teams are built for the playoffs. He’s known for underachieving a bit during the regular season and turning on the jets for the playoffs. On top of that, James is a huge piece to add to a young Laker team. Team chemistry will be a work in progress to start the year, which will cause panic within the fanbase but they’ll bounce back from that and will have a chance to make a nice playoff run.
The Lakers may be the most viewed team in the NBA this season. Maybe more than the Warriors. Lebron’s personality is very strong. When you combine that with Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and LaVar Ball (who isn’t a player or coach by the way), it’ll be a show every night. LA isn’t done making moves so they may end up third with OKC fourth.
5. Utah Jazz
Once again, many project the Jazz missing the playoffs next season. Although they don’t have those attractive Western Conference names, they have a very talented young team that plays well together. They also have Donovan Mitchell, a future star in this league and Rudy Gobert, who won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Mitchell thinks he should have won rookie of the year and he’s not going to take this season lightly. He’s going to prove that he deserves the recognition he got during his first year.
6. New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans lost Cousins, yes, but thanks to Anthony Davis’ recruiting, they landed Julius Randle from the Lakers. Randle may be the perfect counterpart for Davis. He’s a very talented young big that’s willing to learn from a veteran and that’ll benefit this team more than people think.
7. San Antonio Spurs
Initially, the Spurs were on the outside looking into next year’s playoffs but counting head coach Greg Popovich out has proven to be an omen for decades now. Trust his coaching.
Coaching is about all the Spurs have on their side right now, along with some young talent. The obvious highly anticipated question is, will Kawhi Leonard play for this team next season? If so, there will be drama and an uncomfortable vibe throughout the locker room all season, but they’ll squeak into the playoffs. If he leaves, the Spurs will not be in the playoffs next season.
8. Denver Nuggets
Honestly, six through ten in the west will be a toss-up. New Orleans, San Antonio, Denver, Portland, and Minnesota will all four be within a couple games of each other for the playoffs. For some reason though, the Nuggets seem to be a better team than Portland and Minnesota.
Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, and Paul Millsap are a talented core that absolutely loves playing together. Team chemistry goes a long way and so does young talent. Think of this team as a poor man’s Thunder from 2013 with Durant, Westbrook, and Harden as their core.
The two left out was Portland and Minnesota. Although both teams have star talent, team chemistry is an issue and I think this season is all about team chemistry. Why? Because the Western Conference is extremely talented.