Community Shootaround: Western Conference Favorite

With free agency finally beginning to wind down, it’s time to look at which teams have the best chance of competing for an NBA championship entering the 2019/20 season.

We previously discussed which Eastern Conference teams could be in contention during a Community Shootaround earlier this month, including the Bucks, Nets, Sixers and more. The Western Conference appears to be slightly more crowded at the moment, however, with the Clippers, Jazz, Lakers, Nuggets and Rockets all made noticeable upgrades during the offseason.

The Clippers (Kawhi Leonard/Paul George) and Lakers (LeBron James/Anthony Davis) now have star-studded duos, with both franchises working diligently to fill in the remaining holes. The Clippers managed to re-sign Patrick Beverley, JaMychal Green and Ivica Zubac, while the Lakers added the likes of DeMarcus Cousins, Danny Green, Quinn Cook and others to its roster.

Houston made a surprising splash this month for longtime Thunder star Russell Westbrook, who’s widely considered to be the most talented teammate James Harden has had during his seven years with the organization.

The Jazz also made some major moves this offseason, acquiring Mike Conley from Memphis and signing Bojan Bogdanovic (18 PPG in 2018/19) to a four-year contract. Utah plans to pair those players alongside stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.

Elsewhere in the West, Denver quickly re-signed guard Jamal Murray to a five-year extension, exercised its $30MM team option on Paul Millsap and acquired athletic power forward Jerami Grant from Oklahoma City in a trade.

The Trail Blazers and Warriors can never be totally counted out, with Portland acquiring shot-blocking center Hassan Whiteside and Golden State adding D’Angelo Russell to a newly projected starting five of Stephen Curry, Russell, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Willie Cauley-Stein.

With all of this in mind, who do you believe is the current favorite to win the Western Conference this upcoming season? Is it one of the seven teams listed above, or is it a separate wild card team? Take to the comments section below to voice your opinion!

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77 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Western Conference Favorite

  1. grantlee221

    taking player health into account, it feels like a year that a new team will emerge from the West. Dubs, Clips and Lakers are suspect. seems a team like the nuggets or jazz can pull off something special in the wake of other teams getting healthy

    • I think you’re right, Health has a lot to do with it. A major guy goes down and that could change things. Let’s assume no major injuries.., I believe any of six teams could come out of the West. Seriously. Lot of teams built to win it all in the West.

  2. Fearthebeard

    Clippers, nuggets , rockets are the most dangerous teams I believe. Jazz up there.

    Lakers lack the other pieces in my opinion to contend with them.

    • amk3510

      Rockets are not better than the Lakers lol. 2 major ball hogs and no defense D’antoni will be a major flame out

      • Fearthebeard

        Rockets Already where better by a long way and now added a better pg no matter how you view it.

        • amk3510

          They combined 2 players who have the most volatile play style in the leauge that has been proven to be unsuccessful in the playoffs. AD made up the gap tremendously. Houstons ceiling is a 2nd round exit.

          • Fearthebeard

            Unsuccessful? They had the warriors at full health before injuries 2 seasons ago and where the most dangerous team again this season to the warriors while healthy.

            Yes the raptors won though missing kd and Thompson in big games.

            I don’t think the rockets are likely to take it. Bucks, clippers in my
            Opinion will be better. Though lakers aren’t in that category.

            • kevin

              In reality, I believe we see the Rockets win a lot of regular-season games but flame out when it matters. I’d say the Rockets are the 6th-7th best team in the West. I believe the Lakers along with a handful of other teams easily win a series against the Rockets.

              As it stands now, most fans would be thrilled to see their favorite team face the Rockets in a series

      • madmanTX

        Given the bad chemistry in that Lakers organization and the obvious vulnerability of LeBron’s fading talents, the Lakers are definitely not better than the Rockets. Let them prove they are this season. Odds are, they won’t.

  3. mrlaker4lifemnm

    “The Lakers lack the other pieces in my opinion to contend with them “

    This sounds like a biased opinion and totally makes no sense, Vegas doesn’t even agree with you. They have the clippers as favorites and second is the Lakers. Really?

    • amk3510

      They have to make up a new way to try and put down the Lakers, now that they have two top 5 players in the NBA

        • amk3510

          PG is not better than Davis or James. And that literally has to do with nothing that I said. Clippers Lakers Jazz are the top 3 teams in the west and seeding could go in any order among the 3

            • amk3510

              Once again your responding with something I never saod. Clipppers and Lakers are both going to be great. And no PG is not better than AD or Lebron. I dont have any issue with thinking the Clippers woll be good. But cut this BS that Lebron and AD arent top players which many people are saying. Its just stale

              • LeBron and Anthony Davis are amazing players. The only thing is with Davis you have to wonder if he’ll get hurt. He fights through it and plays a lot of games every year but he does get nicked up and you wonder in the playoffs Willoughby 100%? Bottom line though there’s no reason to think they can’t win it all this year.

              • Fearthebeard

                I didn’t say they aren’t good. Just said they aren’t both top 5. Kw and pg are

              • Kawhi’s got to be top five. In fact he just proved it to you. Championship. Scoreboard.

                Who is your top five? LeBron Durant Curry Harden Giannis? Kawhi Leonard is better than all of them

                • IslandFlava

                  Embiid, KD, Giannis, Harden, Westbrook, Lillard, Jokic, KAT, LBJ, AD, Curry… All of them are better than Kawhi

                    • Natergater77

                      If last season did not show Laker fans that LeBron has taken a step back you need to look harder.

                      That said AD is top 5. No particular order I say

                      Kawhi
                      AD
                      Durant
                      Steph
                      Greek Freak

        • Fearthebeard

          Clearly missed the part where I said rockets aren’t in my opinion on or with clippers or even bucks. Though lakers aren’t at all in that convo.

          Pot meat kettle? I rest my case.

  4. Arnold Ziffel

    Clippers are favorites, Jazz and Lakers top contenders. If Porter shows he is healthy and ready, place Nuggets in the top four. Houston, Portland, and Warriors could all s eat in also. This is a very tough conference to pick.

    • johnstodder

      As much noise as the Clippers have made, I think they’re underrated. They are going to have one of the all-time great NBA defenses if their core guys stay healthy. With George and Leonard, the Clippers have the two best two-way players in the NBA. Then add Patrick Beverley and JaMichael Green. That’s a suffocating problem for every team with the possible exception of those teams with a skilled big like Denver. Apart from that, they still have last year’s leading pick and roll combo running the second team.

      The Clippers are going to be merciless to the rest of the NBA. There is so much talent in the West, but not the combination of defensive strength and productive scorers.

      Does that mean they’ll finish in the top seed? Not necessarily, due to “load management.” But when we get the playoffs, assuming health? They’ll dominate.

      • Fearthebeard

        This is my point. They are clearly well ahead of lakers.

        Lakers fans are blowing their loads as they have been trash for the best part of a decade now.

        Clippers brought back a top 8 team who gave a healthy warriors some fight. They have replaced two solid players with two top 5 players.

        Their defence is extremely scary and their attack with pg and kawhi is going to be insane.

        Managing etc is sure to come into equation though raptors did it and still finished well. That was without another player like pg….

        Throw in the fact the lakers are going to have an older James and very little to carry the team outside him and Davis…. throw in again that the lakers have brought back majority of the guys that couldn’t make the 8…. it’s a no contest to the clippers

  5. seamaholic

    Not sure what LeBron has left. All things considered, I take Clips star core over Lakers, and I’d even take Jokic-Murray given their age and good health.

    I’ll go Clips-Nuggs-Jazz, then Lakers if it all works together. Rockets will be a mess, at least in first half.

  6. Jadyn3054

    Clippers are the favorite, nuggets are second favorite, jazz are dark horse because we dont know if conley can stay healthy or if donovan mitchell just had a sophomre slump or if he just wont improve

  7. TheTruth12

    I’ve said this on another post and I’ll say it again until a team in the West beats the Warriors they’re the favorites. They lost KD but they’ve made it to the finals without him, they lost Klay for the season but replaced him with another all star.

    Other than the Warriors, Nuggets, Blazers, and Clippers probably have the best chance. Definitely not the Lakers Lebron has nothing left and AD gets a paper cut and he’s out for the year.

    • kenleyfornia2

      Delusion. The league has changed significantly since 2015-16. Those KD-less Warriors had much more depth and better starters than now. LeBron is done yet last season he went 27-8-8 saying he has nothing left is just comical and makes you look like a troll. And in what world is Curry/Dlo > Both LA teams 2 best players or even the Jazz and nuggets for that matter. The Warriors time is up, cant wait til these ridiculous takes are proven wrong.

      • I think he’s right. The Warriors want it all without Katie. Yes they had a granola and he was huge for them, but the Warriors have added to their bench. Willie cauley-stein and Alec Burks are good role players.

        • Don’t you love voice to text. I’m so eager to click publish without proofreading. Sorry.

          • hiflew

            Don’t be sorry. I think Katie is an excellent new nickname for Durant.

            • Lol !!!

              Yes but not sure abaout “want it all” (won) and granola (Iguadala.)

              • x%sure

                Granola! So much better than “Iggy”. I hope Ignas Brazakis doesn’t get stuck with that nickname.

    • amk3510

      Clippers pushed them to 6 games with no stars while Durant was the diffrence maker in that series. They dont stand a chance vs the Clippers anymore

      • We’ll see. Continuity means a lot, just ask LeBron. Did his Superstar team in Miami win the first year? Answer, no.

        Might take a year for the Clippers to gel. And the young guys that carried them last year? They’re not ready to step up in the absence of Gallinari and Shea gilgeous-alexander. You forgot you lost two huge pieces from that Clipper team that took the Warriors to the mat.

        • Fearthebeard

          That’s the thing. Besides those 2 being replaced by 2 stars (top 5 players) they remain heavily the same with a squad that could push them.

          Unlike the lakers.

    • Not saying their Champions, but you might want to lay off the sauce a little.

    • bowserhound

      The Clippers are going to break the record of sending people (‘cough’ Rockets) to the free throw line. Bunch of D and a bunch of D Bags.

  8. sunsympathizer

    Pretty sure the Suns will win the West. Annnnd the title. Clippers and Lakers mad some nice additions, but…. Saric, Rubio, and Kaminsky? Rise up, Phoenix!

    • I know you’re joking, but reality and hope is the sun’s will be much improved and building for the future. They have some great pieces.

  9. Buckman

    2 man VORPs from 2018-19 regular season
    7. Gobert/Mitchell…7.1
    6. Steph/D’Angelo…8.2
    5. Jokic/Murray…8.6
    3. Dame/Jurkic…8.9
    3. George/Kawhi…8.9
    2. LeBron/AD…9.8
    1. Harden/Westbrook…15.5

    • Buckman

      Conley was 3.2 so better than Mitchell…Utah would be 8.6 with him and Gobert

    • Those numbers are skewed when matched up as teammates. When you have to carry a team your numbers are going to be astronomical.

      The Rockets will be good if they keep their role players PJ Tucker, Eric Gordon, and capella. Those contributions in areas you don’t see on the stat sheet are monumental.

      Nuggets need a star. Look out for the Trailblazers they added to their core. Lakers have LeBron so they’ll be amazing as will the Clippers with their Stars + youth. Don’t count out the Warriors they have the same team as 3 years ago minus the X Factor of iguodala’s defense and Leadership.

      In other words the West is wide open and I wouldn’t be surprised if any of six teams came out of the West.

      • Buckman

        Harden/Westbrook will be lower when playing together but you made the best point in that these numbers indicate a wide open west. Additionally, supporting casts are going to make the difference along with injury luck.

      • x%sure

        The stars will cancel each other out and nobody can handle Jokic or keep up with Murray. IDK how you define star, but Denver has a rising proven team that smoothly filled their need ideally without giving anything up.

        Portland forgot about filling the forward spots. Utah lacks force. Houston is unstable.
        LAL & LAC will likely overinvest in load management, be not fully formed, and lose to GSW who will lose to Denver.

      • hiflew

        Define “star.” I would consider Jokic a star. Murray is up and coming. Stars are made by winning.

    • hiflew

      That’s great. Except we are not looking for the combo that would win it all last season. Those numbers are virtually meaningless when talking about the 2019-20 season. VORP is a cute stat and all, but it does not accurately predict the future. Especially when so many teams are going to look completely different from last year.

  10. greg1

    I really like the Jazz as a dark horse to make it to the Finals. They have a little bit of everything now with their off-season moves.

    I do also like the Clips, that D is going to be crazy good come playoff time. A small ball D lineup of Beverley, Shamet, Claw, George and Harrell!

    Rounding out the real contenders:

    3) Nuggets
    4) Lakers
    5) Blazers
    6) Rockets
    7) Spurs
    8) Warriors

  11. Walter1977

    Nuggets added no one, will win 50 but will be a easy out. Houston and Golden State will explode, they are like balloons with to much helium. Jazz are gonna miss Favors and their bench is full of players with big names who can’t play. Clippers have Zubac as starting center, could be the worst player ever to start a NBA finals game. Lakers just not stable enough, the soap opera will continue. DAME Time is now Blazer have the most complete roster, and just traded some loose change for a DPOY candidate, and somebody who could make a corner 3.

    • x%sure

      So far the Blazer starting forwards are Zach Collins and Mario Hezonja. Center Whiteside could not keep the starters job in Miami, a lottery EC team. His backup is Collins. NOT a complete roster– they lost a lot. They did get Bazemore but are listing him as a 1 which is weird.

      Nuggets added Jeremi Grant, an ideal fit with Jokic, a 3pt shooter who can slash for drop-offs and play D & hustle.

  12. Simple Fan

    It’s Warriors or Blazers. I can see
    Portland demolishing LAL whether its regular season or playoffs. I’m not sure they can get around the Warriors, though.

    If the Pelicans are a wild card team, I see them winning over Denver and Utah, maybe even the Clippers, but probably not against Houston, or the Warriors or Blazers

    • Simple Fan

      Although, Kawhi has a pretty cool head about him and PG13’s game is really cool too, so I wouldn’t count out LAC. They’ll probably face Portland in the WC semis but when those teams have to count on their bigs it’s gonna be Portland first

  13. hiflew

    I think one team that everyone is overlooking is the Kings. They were the 9 seed last season and had a very young team. If a couple of their young players take another step forward in their career, they could easily be in the mix. And not just for the 8 seed. Fox, Hield, Barnes, Bagley, Dedmon with Bogdanovic, Giles, Ariza, Joseph, Bjelica off the bench could make for a very good team.

    I don’t necessarily believe they are the best team in the West, but I honestly would not be shocked if they finished the season with a better record than the Lakers.

  14. x%sure

    1Clippers, 2Nuggets, gap, 3Lakers, 4Jazz, 5Warriors, 6Rockets, 7Spurs, gap, 8Kings, 9Wolves, 10Mavs, gap, 11Thunder, 12Blazers, 13Pelicans, 14Suns, gap, 15Griz.

    Most of these teams are too good for the slot they’re in! Something has to give!

    GSW/UTA, LAL/HOU, DEN/SAS, LAC/SAC
    GSW/LAC, DEN/LAL,…DEN/GSW…

    • hiflew

      Blazers 12? You do realize that team was just in the Western Conference Finals just a couple months ago, right?

    • D$!LLKU$H-og

      Not a bad assessment but I’d switch MINN and POR. Then possibly even SAC down to 9 and POR up to 8. MINN will be quite bad but KAT will put up monster numbers. That said, if Whiteside struggles and Nurk comes back diminished I could see the Blazers in the lottery.

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