As is the case over in the Eastern Conference, the teams at the top of the Western Conference standings as the 2017/18 season nears its two-month mark are unsurprising. While it’s notable that the Rockets (21-4), currently riding a 10-game winning streak, have held off the Warriors (22-6) for the No. 1 spot so far, we expected those two clubs to hold top seeds, along with the Spurs, who have improbably gone 19-8 without Kawhi Leonard.
After the top three though, things get a little messier. The Timberwolves (16-11) and Nuggets (14-12) were popular picks to make the leap into the top eight this season, and so far they’ve delivered on that promise, but neither club has been dominant. They’re followed by a pair of .500 teams led by a star backcourt and frontcourt duo respectively, in the Trail Blazers (13-13) and Pelicans (14-14).
For all the talk coming into this season of the Western Conference being more competitive than ever, the eighth seed is held by a sub-.500 club, with the Jazz (13-14) hanging on for now. It seems like just a matter of time until the Thunder (12-14) figure things out and make their way into the playoff picture, but we’ve been expecting that for weeks and it still hasn’t happened.
Further down the standings, teams like the Mavericks, Kings, and Suns don’t appear to be postseason threats, as expected. But it’s a little surprising to see the Grizzlies (8-19) in the bottom four along with them. The two Los Angeles teams round out the conference, with identical 10-15 records — both clubs remain within striking distance of a playoff spot, but the Clippers will need to get healthy and the Lakers will need more consistent production from their young players.
We’ve still got a lot of basketball to play before playoff seeds are determined, but based on what you’ve seen so far this season, which eight teams do you expect to make the postseason in the West? Can middling teams like the Blazers, Pelicans, and Jazz hold off current lottery teams? Will the Thunder displace one of them? Is there another dark horse contender for a postseason berth in the West?
Jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts on the race for the playoffs in the Western Conference!