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Community Shootaround: Western Conference Playoffs

Normally filled with 50-win teams, the Western Conference had a few “haves” and way more “have nots” last season. The Warriors and Spurs separated themselves from the pack quickly, while the Thunder and Clippers cruised to the third and fourth spots. No other team won more than 44 regular-season games and spots 5-9 were separated by a mere four games.

That suggests we could see some upheaval in terms of the playoff picture this season. The Thunder will struggle to match, or even come close, to the 55 wins they collected last season with Kevin Durant now wearing a Golden State uniform. The teams in the bottom half of last season’s playoff bracket could be in danger of falling into the lottery, as most of the non-playoff teams appear to be on the upswing.

The Jazz just missed out on the playoffs and have fortified their young core with playoff-tested veterans, including George Hill, Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw. The Nuggets have a deep team led by point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who could be poised for a breakout season after getting a trial by fire in his rookie season.

The Pelicans were a colossal disappointment a year ago after making the 2014/15 playoffs but any team anchored by Anthony Davis has to be respected. If rookie guard Buddy Hield makes an immediate impact as a scorer, New Orleans could be poised for a turnaround.

Perhaps no team in the league has more young talent than the Timberwolves. Led by franchise player Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, the club could take a big jump with defensive-minded coach Tom Thibodeau at the helm.

The Suns added power forwards Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss in the draft and with better health for guards Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, they should be much more dangerous.

The Kings made some curious off-season moves but they still have arguably the league’s top center in DeMarcus Cousins. The Lakers did some roster tinkering, including the addition of veteran forward Luol Deng, but their biggest hope is that lottery pick Brandon Ingram develops into a franchise player.

This leads us to our question of the day: Which Western Conference team that missed last season’s playoffs will make the postseason in the upcoming season and what will put that team over the top?

Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.

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7 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Western Conference Playoffs

  1. joebunda

    I think it’s apparent that the Jazz have a chance to win 50 games, and that will be because Gordon Hayward will play the best ball of his career. Surrounded by young talent and strong veteran leadership, the Jazz are a model team next year.

  2. Steve in Chicago

    My money, if I were a betting man, would be on N.O. and the Wolves.

  3. Probably the Jazz. But I think the wolves will be a top 3 team in the next two or three years.

  4. Thunder can still take somewhere from 4th to 6th they will fight with Memphis/Portland for those three spots (excluding injuries to all teams).

    Houston, Utah, NO, Wolves and Dallas can fight it out for the last two spots. If I was a betting man I would say Utah and NO get them. Utah on account of close to league best D and slightly improved scoring, Pelly’s on account of AD having a massive/injury free year. Houston can’t defend and outside of Harden don’t have enough scoring to allow for the rubbish D. Wolves will have great moments/be much improved but still young and might be inconsistent (2017/2018 could be huge for them though). Dallas are just lacking a little talent and are ageing to much I think.

  5. Richard

    My Top 8 teams in the West:

    1) GSW
    2) LAC
    3) SAS
    4) Blazers
    5) Jazz
    6) Mavs
    7) NOP
    8) Rockets

    Blazers take a leap this yr. Lillard too much, plus a young crew just a yr older/experienced. Jazz @ 5 b/c they could have made it last yr; vets such as JJ and Diaw will help. Mavs a lil’ better than last season. Pels a good, not great team, good enuff to “sneak” in. Put Rox @ 8 b/c Kings won’t get it done again. COULD be last seeding, but Harden will keep them in playoff contention. D Cuz will leave Sac after this season. Top 3? Explanetory. OKC? NOPE. RW couldn’t lead them to an 7th-8th seeding 2 yrs ago; how’s he gonna do NOW?

    • 2 years ago – Russ missed a lot of games himself, Ibaka wasn’t healthy and missed considerable time, Adams missed time, Roberson missed time even end of bench back ups like collison missed time – in one game if I recall OKC only had 3 guys stripped on the bench.

      Despite all of the above OKC missed the postseason by a tiebreaker (decided by a miracle Davis three pointer).

      And also despite all that Thunder won enough games to have been the sixth seed this season – they just ran into a year where the playoff threshold was quite high.

      Given the above its a miracle Russ dragged them as far as they could.

      Add the fact that Russ is a better player now, Adams is way better, Oladipo is the best two guard they have had in years, and the roster is just deeper overall than the idea they won’t make the playoffs (if healthy) is about the biggest joke I have heard.

      OKC will comfortably make the playoffs and no one is going to want to meet them there.

      p.s. there is also no way the Mavs are getting 6th – they are weaker than last year and I still don’t really get how they managed to make the playoffs then (vintage but unsustainable Dirk main reason I suppose). They will be 8th at absolute best.

  6. rsevenseas

    I think only Utah gets in and Dallas drops out. Spots 8-11 will be separated by only 2 games.
    1. Golden State Warriors
    2. San Antonio Spurs
    3. Los Angeles Clippers
    4. Oklahoma City Thunder
    5. Utah Jazz
    6. Memphis Grizzlies
    7. Portland Trail Blazers
    8. Houston Rockets
    ——————————
    9. Minnesota Timberwolves
    10. New Orleans Pelicans
    11. Dallas Mavericks
    12. Denver Nuggets
    13. Phoenix Suns
    14. Sacramento Kings
    15. Los Angeles Lakers

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