Entering the 2019/20 season, eight teams were widely considered the frontrunners to claim the playoff spots in the Western Conference. Through the season’s first month, five of those clubs have delivered on their promise — the Lakers, Clippers, Rockets, Nuggets, and Jazz look like pretty safe bets to make the postseason.
However, the other three clubs from that group have won just 13 games combined so far, and will have to dig themselves out of an early-season hole if they hope to make the playoffs.
With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson out long-term due to injuries, and Draymond Green, D’Angelo Russell, and Kevon Looney also battling health issues, the Warriors‘ postseason chances appear all but dead. They have the worst record in the conference so far at 3-13, and there’s little reason to expect them to improve anytime soon.
The Trail Blazers and especially the Spurs haven’t been bitten by the injury bug to the same extent that Golden State has, but both clubs are off to disappointing starts too, with matching 5-10 records to date.
With those three presumed playoff teams near the bottom of the standings so far, the Mavericks (9-5), Suns (7-6), and Timberwolves (8-7) currently fill out the West’s top eight, and the Kings (6-7) are just one game out of the postseason picture. The Thunder, Grizzlies, and Pelicans (all 5-9) aren’t entirely out of the mix yet either.
It’s still very early, so there’s time for teams like Portland and San Antonio to bounce back and make a run. And it remains to be seen if clubs like Phoenix and Minnesota can sustain their early success. But it suddenly looks like there could be a pretty wide-open race for the last couple playoff seeds in the West — or for the last three spots, if you’re not fully in on Luka Doncic and the Mavs, or one of the conference’s other top teams.
What do you think? After what you’ve seen over the last month, are you ready to make any predictions on which upstarts might make the playoffs in the West? Are the Mavs for real? How about the Suns and Timberwolves? Of the Blazers and Spurs, which club has the better chance to rebound?
Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!