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Community Shootaround: Western Conference Playoff Teams

On Monday, our Community Shootaround discussion focused on 2016’s Eastern Conference playoff teams, as we asked which of those eight clubs is most likely to slide down the standings next season. While the Heat received the most votes, the response was hardly unanimous.

In the Western Conference, however, it seems far more likely that there would be a consensus on which team is in for the biggest slide. The Thunder, after all, lost a perennial MVP candidate in Kevin Durant, and traded a three-team All-Defensive player in Serge Ibaka. The team still has Russell Westbrook on its roster, and was widely lauded for its return in the Ibaka deal, but it’s hard to imagine Oklahoma City as a top-three team and a Conference Finals participant again in the West.

So, as we examine the West’s playoff teams, let’s not focus on which team will slide the most. Instead, let’s discuss which teams’ moves you liked and which ones you didn’t.

The Warriors, of course, made the biggest splash of the offseason when they landed Durant, but is there room for improvement on last year’s 73-win squad, or will it take some time for the team to adjust to its new-look roster?

The Spurs and Clippers have brought back most of their key pieces, but it’s the end of an era in San Antonio, where Tim Duncan has announced his retirement. Adding Pau Gasol to the mix will help, and Duncan had already been surpassed by Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge as the club’s go-to players, but this isn’t the same Spurs team that won a championship just two years ago. As for the Clippers, if their core players stay healthy into the playoffs, there’s still optimism that the team can finally get over the hump, but Chris Paul‘s not getting any younger.

It’s been an eventful summer for the other three Southwest playoffs teams, with the Mavericks bringing in Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut while losing Chandler Parsons and Zaza Pachulia. Parsons ended up with the Grizzlies, who also retained Mike Conley with the largest contract in NBA history. The Rockets, meanwhile, saw Dwight Howard walk in free agency, but landed Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon.

Finally, the Trail Blazers, one of 2015/16’s pleasant surprises, have managed to bring back key restricted free agents like Allen Crabbe and Meyers Leonard, and also made a couple more head-turning moves in free agency, adding Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli on multiyear deals.

So what do you think? Did any of the Western Conference playoff teams besides Golden State and Oklahoma City drastically improve or take a step back this offseason? Or will the storyline in the West next year simply come down to the Thunder losing their best player to the Warriors?

Take to the comments section below to share your opinions on the Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Blazers, Mavs, Grizzlies, and Rockets. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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36 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Western Conference Playoff Teams

  1. No team looked like they did enough to unseat GSW and SAS as the top of the conference…

    But the Mavs and the Grizzlies seem to be the most improved.

    The Mavs have one of the best coaches in the league, who took an incredibly porous team into the playoffs last year. Now he has a legitimate center, a solid forward in Barnes, a shooter in Seth Curry, to play with. Not to mention the fact that Wesley Matthews will be another year removed from his Achilles injury.

    The Grizzlies, similarly, added pieces in free agency and the draft, and will improve from having a healthy Gasol back in the lineup.

    • johnny gomez

      Yes you are right on that part but the loss of their defensive genius assistant coach Greg Buckner will be felt which will make the Rockets in my mind the most improved team.

  2. dezkuma

    I see the TWolves coming around after a few years. The Jazz also have a lot of length and if they can find a person or two to consistently score under duress … they could be another team.

    Warriors will most likely get into the Finals unless there’s an injury that derails them.

  3. Rsevenseas

    I think the Jazz did the most to fill in the gaps on their team. The added three veterans with 284 games of playoff experience to a team that had a total of 32 games of playoff experience on its roster in 15-16…mostly by Trevor Booker and Shelvin Mack

  4. mathiasak04182000

    Here’s what I got:
    1. Warriors
    2. Spurs
    3. Clippers
    4. Mavs
    5. Thunder
    6. Blazers
    7. Grizzlies
    8. TWolves

    • Chris Crouse

      Twolves being in over the Jazz and Thunder (Russell is still there) is surprising.

      • jeffy25

        He has Thunder 5th

  5. Rsevenseas

    My picks for the final West standings for 2016-2017

    Golden State Warriors
    San Antonio Spurs
    Los Angeles Clippers
    Utah Jazz
    Portland Trail Blazers
    Memphis Grizzlies
    Houston Rockets
    Oklahoma City Thunder

    New Orleans Pelicans
    Dallas Mavericks
    Minnesota Timberwolves
    Denver Nuggets
    Phoenix Suns
    Sacramento Kings
    Los Angeles Lakers

    • Griffin03302016

      You have Dallas Mavericks out I would put them in

  6. halos101

    if clippers stay healthy I don’t see a reason they cannot be the 2 seed

    • Big if. Even then, the Spurs are more likely to take the second seed. Clippers will be a strong third though I think. The rest of the conference after this offseason is all up in the air. Those are definitely the top 3 seeds though.

      • halos101

        agree that it’s a big if

    • The Spurs still have a better team than the Clippers and it doesn’t help the Clippers that they share a division with the Warriors.

      • halos101

        I think we have a better team and I hope we make second round against the Spurs cause I honestly think we could beat them. But I’ve thought the clippers could make wcf before lol

    • TWolvesFan

      I think it’s going to be
      Dubs
      Spurs
      Clippers
      Trailblazers
      Thunder
      Memphis
      Mavs
      Twolves

  7. A. Cabrera

    Dubs
    Spurs
    Clippers
    Blazers
    Grizzlies
    Thunder
    Mavs
    Jazz

  8. Mavs are in a much better situation than they were last season when they were the 6th seed so why anyone would pick them to miss the playoffs is beyond me. People pick them to miss the playoffs every year and they shut them up. Every year.

    • lakersfan27

      It wouldn’t surprise me if they missed the playoffs. Dirk is another year older, you don’t really know what you are going to get from Barnes, Bogut has always struggled to stay heathy(especially when given more minutes), their backcourt isn’t anything special. They are well coached and Rick always gets the most out of his players, but the Jazz should be better and the wolves could make a jump with thibs.

  9. johnny gomez

    As a Rockets man I see a very much improved team with addition of D’Antoni and the coup they pulled by hiring defensive minded assistant coach Greg Buckner whom the Rockets stole from a great Grizzlies defensive team the will be big. Also there two 1st round picks from last year that are looking great in Summer League games( Harrell and Sam Decker) and this 3 point shooting kid from Gonzaga undrafted. Even K.J. McDaniels looked awesome. Young bench!

    • CoachSanders

      The Rockets got Jeff Bzdelick from the Grizz to be defensive coach. Buckner was already on staff, he just received a promotion.

    • Edward

      D cant coach

  10. 333ddd1

    Warriors have a major injury and they’d be in trouble. Still a great big 3, but no depth

    • I think the point is if you have 1 injury you still have 3 All Stars. Warriors will be just fine.

      • halos101

        if durant went down it it would be the same team as last year without depth, and that would not work with warriors

        • Thank u for being the only person to agree with me

        • Exactly. Most of the Warriors’ success (at least during the regular season) is the depth of their bench. Last season, they could easily go 10-12 deep during any game. They don’t have that same luxury anymore. They could still do something like LeBron’s Heat and Cavs did by alternating their stars with the bench players but they probably won’t have the same luxury of being able to sit their starters in the 4th quarter unless they have a huge lead.

          • Rsevenseas

            Remember GSW has a top 6 “starters” group if you include ZaZa at the C position. And while I think GSW is a bit thin in the bench SG/SF role, the group of Shaun Livingston , David West , Anderson Varejao, Ian Clark , James Mcadoo , and Kevon Looney if he makes the 2nd year improvement plus they seem to like Patrick McCaw is likely a top 10 bench.

          • I was referring to the postseason. Any team that loses a star will lose more games, I can’t argue with that. However, I think they are OK sacrificing a few “bench wins” in the regular season for a ring. Last year is a good example. Curry got hurt and they were still good but not good enough. This year if Curry gets hurt in the playoffs, they’ll have 3 all stars including an MVP player to fill in the gaps.

            Curry sat out tons of 4th quarters this year, why would it be different next?

          • Oh yeah no of course, they’re still fine postseason wise since most teams go 7-9 deep. Was just pointing out that they’re going to have to balance the whole rest vs play thing again but without the benefit of a deep bench.

    • lakersfan27

      They are still 9 or 8 deep. Even if they do lose one of the big four they have plenty of guys to step in.

  11. dodgers4life357

    I fell like somebody gonna get injured like curry and green so maybe 2

  12. Here’s my west:
    1. Warriors
    2. Spurs
    3. Clippers
    4. Blazers
    5. Grizzles
    6. Thunder
    7. Jazz
    8. T-Wolves

  13. lakersfan27

    Don’t see how the Grizzles are getting so much love on this. Every frontline player on their team had seasons that ended early last year. They lost their head coach. I feel like they have a lot of question marks surrounding their squad. I could see them falling out of the playoff picture. They did have a nice draft hopefully their young guys can contribute but the west is still tough. I would be surprised if the Suns, Jazz, and Wolves up root some of the powers that be.

  14. Coachdon

    1. Warriors
    2. Spurs
    3. Clippers
    4. Grizz
    5. Blazers
    6. Wolves
    7. Jazz
    8. Thunder

    I’m looking forward to see if there are any significant trades to changes the play-off teams in the West.

  15. Ballin Colin

    It’s true that Kevin Durant backstabed his team I thought he might’ve stayed but I was wrong plus they should go ahead and give golden state the championship.

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