Poll: Early Western Conference Favorites

No team besides the Golden State Warriors has represented the Western Conference in the NBA Finals since 2014, but when the 2019/20 season begins, the Warriors almost certainly won’t be most fans’ pick to come out of the West again.

In the wake of their acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers emerged as the betting favorites to win the conference – and the NBA championship – and it’s not hard to see why. George was one of the league’s best players in the regular season last season, while Leonard was the best postseason player. They join a 48-win team that’s bringing back many of its most important role players.

Still, the Clippers aren’t the overwhelming frontrunners. Leonard only played 60 games last season and battled a leg injury in the playoffs, while George underwent surgeries on both shoulders this spring and isn’t a lock to be ready for opening night. Plus, it’s not as if the Clips are bringing back all the key members of last year’s team — Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had be to be dealt for George.

The Lakers are viewed as perhaps the most significant threat to the Clippers in the West, as they added a perennial MVP contender themselves by trading for Anthony Davis. He’ll join LeBron James and a collection of role players both new (Danny Green, Quinn Cook, Avery Bradley) and returning (Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee). The Lakers also managed to hold Kyle Kuzma out of the Davis blockbuster and signed DeMarcus Cousins to a team-friendly deal in the hopes that he can recapture his All-Star form.

Outside of Los Angeles, there are a number of other clubs threatening to make a deep playoff run in the West. The Nuggets claimed the No. 2 seed last season and will bring all their primary contributors back, along with newly-acquired Jerami Grant, a versatile defender and someone who can make three-pointers on offense.

The Trail Blazers, who beat Denver to advance to the Western Finals this spring, underwent some changes this summer, with the likes of Al-Farouq Aminu, Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Evan Turner, Seth Curry, and Jake Layman being replaced by Hassan Whiteside, Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver, Nassir Little, and Mario Hezonja. Most importantly though, the club’s stars – Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum – will be back.

The Rockets appeared on the verge of blowing things up after a disappointing second-round exit this spring, but they now seem prepared to bring back a strong group led by James Harden, Chris Paul, Clint Capela, P.J. Tucker, and Eric Gordon. During the past two seasons, no Western team came closer than Houston to knocking off the Warriors.

[UPDATE: The Rockets have agreed to acquire Russell Westbrook in a trade for Paul.]

Speaking of those Warriors, it’s definitely premature to write them off, as they still have a trio of All-Star caliber players in Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and newly-acquired D’Angelo Russell. If Klay Thompson returns to full strength from his torn ACL down the stretch, no one will want to face Golden State in the postseason.

Finally, the Jazz had one of the most impressive offseasons of any NBA team, revamping their starting five by acquiring Mike Conley in a trade and then signing Bojan Bogdanovic in free agency to join Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and Joe Ingles. While Utah will miss contributors like Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder, the team did well to add role players like Ed Davis, Jeff Green, and Emmanuel Mudiay on the cheap.

What do you think? Which of these Western teams is your early pick to make it to the Finals next spring? Or is there another team in the conference that you like even more?

Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to share your two cents!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

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73 thoughts on “Poll: Early Western Conference Favorites

  1. brewcrew08

    I went Clippers. Only reason I didn’t go Lakers is because of AD. I still don’t trust he can stay healthy for a full season and long playoff run. Not to mention Lebron is starting to show signs of wearing down. If those two miss 15-20 games each this season LA will probably go into the playoffs as a 4-6 seed and have an uphill battle

    • cesc

      You do realize that over their careers AD is a lot more reliable health wise than Kawhi…
      AD plays almost 70 games per season… Kawhi plays less than 6o!
      Actually the worry is for the Clips as PG13 & Kawhi aren’t as healthy as LBJ & AD, not to say they aren’t at the same level neither!!!

  2. JonnyLucas

    It’s gonna be a terrific rivalry for the next couple of years. Of course it will depend on chemistry and health, but on paper I think it could go either way. These LA games are gonna be awesome!!! I can’t wait!!!

  3. Strike Four

    You’re a legit clown if you really think the Warriors won’t be in the Finals again. Like, come on.

    • kenleyfornia2

      I thought this comment was going to say contender but nope this man really went for the Finals. Warriors without KD are significantly worse and 1 win against a perennial choker in Houston and sweeping Portland doesnt change that. GSW also lost a good amount of depth too. They will be a playoff team but not any higher than a 5 seed. Only clowns are the ones who think a depleted GSW team can be a top seed in the west and magically turn it on when Klay comes back

      • Strike Four

        My man, the Warriors GAINED more depth this offseason, not to mention getting 3 potential game changers/superstars in the draft and a 24 year old Looney looking more and more like the megastar he was going to be before his injury halted his progress. Sure, without Klay they might not win many reg season games, but they are going to take down anyone from ANY spot in the bracket with the big 4 all on the court.

        Warriors without KD won it all. Why do all you jonny come latelys ALWAYS miss that FACT???

        Doesn’t matter, bring this thread up in May and lets see who’s right (it wont be you).

        • imindless
          imindless

          Sorry man your squad got torched without kd. Added depth? By losing kd and iggy? Sorry man but lakers, clips, nuggets are all deeper and healthy. Your post is not gonna age well man.

          • Curtisrowe

            Imindless. Your “Clippers are out of it” post didn’t age well either.

          • Strike Four

            GSW literally won a title without KD and with Steph, Klay and Dray, what are you talking about???? Torched? The Raps were full strength and barely got by.

            D-lo will replace KD’s scoring with ease and Cauley-Stein, Paschall, Poole, Smailagic, Spellman and Robinson III are MASSIVE upgrades to last years terrible bench, and Iggy while a leader, is actually not a good player anymore, he’s more a 9th man than a 6th.

            People STILL doubting the Warriors after FIVE STRAIGHT FINALS are the ones who are going to look dumb but don’t worry, December 2018 everyone had the Lakers winning it all, you sound exactly like that right now, LOL!!!!!

            • Rewane

              Leonard is dealing with minor injury and Anunoby is injured, so Raptors are not full strength.
              Warriors without KD stl needs 6 games to beat Love and Irving less Cavs. If they were healthy, Warriors probably won’t have a chip before KD came over.

        • Curtisrowe

          I thought you were serious until you said “Looney” and “megstar” in the same sentence.

          • Strike Four

            Did you not follow him in college? He was getting LEBRON comps until he hurt his hip.

            • Rewane

              So many guys get LeBron comps. There is still just one LeBron. The xx comp and the next xx doesn’t mean anything.

              • Strike Four

                Way to miss the point Rewane, my point is Looney actually made tremendous improvements to his game last year and most likely will be a big force in the NBA starting next year.

                Don’t say no one saw it coming, Dubs fans did.

                • mcmillankmm

                  I’d agree with that statement, based on the pedigree, I think most assumed that potential was there…he was looking like a bust through his first year and a half

            • mcmillankmm

              I did follow him in college, he was projected as a lottery pick but the injuries ultimately had him slip in the draft….although I never heard any LeBron comps

            • KnicksFanCavsFan

              @strikefour The world was talking about the future of LBJ in his sophomore year of high-school. I beg of you. PLEAD with you. Show me one credible scouting report that compares Looney in college to LBJ out of HS or the NBA. PLEASE. Draft express compared him to Al-Farouq Aminu. Show me ONE person that compared him to possibly being on the level of LBJ and I will show you a scout, GM, or whomever, that’s probably working for All-State Insurance right now. Or maybe they’re writing science fiction or something since they have quite the imagination. The only thing legit evaluators might say about Looney in comparison to LBJ is that they’re both Black, strong and very tall.

        • kenleyfornia2

          Oh lord how much of a Warrior homer can you be? No one mentions the title without KD because it was FOUR years ago. That has no bearing now. Believe it or not the league has changed a lot since 2015. The fact you are calling 3 players drafted in the later 1st, early 2nd round “potential superstars” is comical. This draft was 3 players deep and somehow the Warriors got stars that late? LOL. The Warriors finals trips are over and I cant wait to re visit this next spirng

          • mcmillankmm

            I saw more criticism of the player they took from Michigan than I saw praise…I won’t critique pick but I certainly thought there were better players available

          • D$!LLKU$H-og

            Smileigic (not sure of spelling) looking like a steal in summer league. Dude has athleticism, good looking jumper and great court vision.

        • KnicksFanCavsFan

          @strikefour

          Warriors won the Finals without KD. Fact. The Warriors won the Finals without KD playing a Cavs team without Kyrie and Love who were both out for the finals (except for Kyrie who tore up his knee in Game 1 of that series). Also FACT. Warriors without KD have NEVER beaten a healthy Cavs team with all 3 of LBJ, Love and Kyrie. Big ‘ole FACT with grown man pubic hair on it.

          Funny how GSW fans always point out the ONE game Draymond missed and the couple of games without Bogut in the 2nd finals match-up but fail to consider the severe injuries the Cavs had when the GSW won their first title. Ironic.

        • KnicksFanCavsFan

          @strikefour

          Facts: GSW lost 2 1/2 major stars in Klay, KD and Cousins. Brought in Russell who most assume will be traded once Klay comes back. They trade or release Iggy and Livingston yet claims this team is deeper. Who know’s what condition Klay will be in when he returns.

          Facts: GSW drafted Pool (28th), Paschakll (41st) and Oni (58th).

          Claims GSW just drafted “3 potential game changers/superstars”

          Facts: Looney’s per 36 works out to be about 12 points and 10 rebounds.

          Says Looney is about to be a “mega-superstar”

          Facts: @strikefour purports to be of sound mind.

          My guess…he smokes weed out of improvised bongs made out of fruits, vegetables and household items that have at least one hole in which he can suck smoke out of.

          • Grant
            Grant

            Actually Oni was traded to the jazz they got smailagic at 39 and he is the only one of the 3 with real star potenntial

      • Strike Four

        Oh also

        “Only clowns are the ones who think a depleted GSW team can be a top seed in the west and magically turn it on when Klay comes back.”

        This is literally not what I wrote. I wrote “You’re a legit clown if you really think the Warriors won’t be in the Finals again.” – I said NOTHING about the seeding…don’t put words in my mouth again please and thank you.

        • arc89

          I am enjoying these fools writing off GSW. Same ones that said they wouldn’t win i n the playoffs because of no bench. The good thing is most of the bandwagon fans now are with lakers and clippers. Only thing is this year nobody is the clear favorites. There are 6 teams that could win the #1 seed. Every team has many question marks. the fun thing will be when those same fools that feel GSW are done watch them back as a top seed.

    • jeremy

      How can you say that when you don’t know how dlo and curry will play together, how Klay will play when he comes back and they lost two vet leaders. Let’s not forget how much better alot of teams in the west got.

      • Strike Four

        Dlo and Curry will play just as well as KD and Curry did, come on, Curry is the GOAT -because- he allows all his teammates to shine as hard as they can, he’s literally never been a me-first, stat-padding type like KD and Bron are.

        GSW absolutely bodied this offfseason. Yall aint even ready, but you should be. When Klay comes back for the playoffs, the Warriors should easily take out everyone. Adding D-lo to the splash bros = Warriors outscoring everyone.

        • imindless
          imindless

          Dlo winshares since entering the league 6 kevin durant 141…. this guy is either mentality challenged or just a warriors homer to think dlo is on par with kd. Dlo got allstar bid as a reserve because much better players were injuried. The disrespect on kd no wonder he left, warriors wont win without kd sad but true!

          • arc89

            SMH nobody thinks DLo is as good as Durant. Just like saying LeBron is as good as he was 5 years ago. It will be fun knocking the lakers out of the playoffs. lakers will be to slow to beat teams with top PG.

  4. goldenmisfit

    That funny moment when the article mentions all of the players the Lakers have acquired but yet says the Lakers are the biggest threat to the clippers not that the clippers are the biggest threat to the Lakers. The Lakers roster is the most balanced not to mention loaded roster in the league and this is not me saying this this has been said by many and be a insiders. Clippers are 3-1 odds favorite Lakers are 4-1 I would love to know how they get those numbers went Leonard still is dealing with a bad leg and Paul George had double shoulder surgery. The clippers or a playoff team no doubt but I don’t see them as a favorite to win it all day watch Alexander and Gallinari in the George trade and you are dealing with a team that has the two biggest attitude problems in basketball. As we all now there is no sport more affected by attitude problems in the locker room then basketball.

    • Strike Four

      The Lakers are already infighting about what position LeBron is going to play – they are not a threat, LeBron is a massive prima donna and AD is injury prone. Utah is probably winning the most reg season games in the West, with the Warriors winning the Conference.

      • bowserhound

        Have fun without Klay and getting that 8th seed then being bounced in the first round.

        Plus one article that says LeBron will play some PG (which he already does every year) doesn’t exactly equate to the team infighting…

        • Strike Four

          Steph/Dray/Klay are literally never getting bounced in the first round. Ever.

          • KnicksFanCavsFan

            the 2013-14 GSW with Curry, Klay and Green were bounced in the 1st round.

            Hahaha…I know what you mean but you just make me laugh.

      • goldenmisfit

        More proof you have no idea what you’re talking about they have already decided what position he’s going to play LeBron is fine with it he will be at the point because they want Kyle, Anthony auntie Marcus or on the floor at the same time proving once again like always you know nothing about this. Go ahead keep hating on LeBron the same guy who graciously gave number 23 to Anthony yeah he sounds like a really horrible guy LMAO #LakersHatersMakeMeLaugh

        • Havlicek stole the ball

          Guess you didn’t see the doctor as I adviced you. Repeat with me: there are no haters, there are just people who root for other teams

  5. 2Times

    I’m goin to say Lakers but I believe it’s going to come down to seeding

  6. mcmillankmm

    I’d say Lakers, Clips, Jazz, Warriors, and Nuggets should all be in the mix…Portland could be as well if Whiteside returns to his top form and Nurkic recovers for the playoffs

  7. Reflect

    I’m actually still picking the Warriors. They are a championship team even without Durant. They proved that 3 years ago and they almost proved it this year.

    They can’t win without Klay though. He’s the real lynchpin for their offense. Obviously Durant is one of the best players in basketball but the Warriors offensive system is built around Klay and Curry.

    If Klay comes back fine I think they win it all.

    • kenleyfornia2

      3 years ago they lost the finals and what those teams proved doesn’t mean a thing for the 2019-20 season

    • bowserhound

      Such a big IF that has so many repercussions. Since Klay will be out the majority of the regular season they won’t have a cushy seed for the playoffs. And even if he comes back 100% for the playoffs, it will be an uphill battle. No KD, no Iggy, no Livingston, no Boogie, no Cook, NO WAY.

      • arc89

        maybe no KD but besides Iggy defense the others will not be missed. Cook was inconsistent. Cousins was hurt a lot and not 100% at all. Livingston was injured almost all year with career lows. Their bench came up way short all year. The new bench reminds me of their first championship team.

  8. x%sure

    Utah STILL does not have a 4. It’s like Boozer soured them on the concept.

    Lakers, Clips, Warriors all have possible injury issues. Them and the Blazers have a lot of players to integrate. The league let Houston re-sign House but the house is dividing. Spurs are good but they have to make a jump.

    Denver. Getting Grant was super; I was looking for them to get a better Jokic-pairing on the front line and Grant may do it. He could avg 20ppg with no midrange game. The group is rising.

  9. Like the Clips and Nuggets. The 2 best rosters in the WC, and with Philly, among the 3 best in the league. Not a slam dunk for either, though. Clips might need time. Nuggets might need a better 2nd option, but getting their initial playoff experience last year will help. Tough conference. Only OKC and GSW look like they’ll be worse than last year.

  10. signal_lost

    I want to thank everyone who didn’t vote Portland so that Damian Lillard can once again be under estimated pretty much guaranteeing Portland will be going to the WCF again…

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