Community Shootaround: Western Conference Early Impressions

On Wednesday, we asked you for your thoughts on what you’ve seen so far this season from the Eastern Conference teams, including whether certain hot and cold starts are for real or whether certain teams are due for course corrections. Today, we’re shifting our focus to the West.

As in the East, there are some early-season results in the Western Conference that don’t come as a real surprise. For instance, the fact that the Timberwolves and Grizzlies are tied for the West’s worst record at 2-5 isn’t a shock — especially since they’ve been missing their respective stars, Karl-Anthony Towns and Ja Morant.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Lakers (6-2) and Clippers (6-3) were considered the class of the conference entering the season, and nothing we’ve seen so far from them suggests that shouldn’t remain the case going forward.

However, both Los Angeles teams currently trail the impressive Suns, whose 6-2 record has made them the No. 1 seed in the conference. Perhaps it’s not a total surprise that Phoenix is off to a hot start after going 8-0 in the bubble, but even those who were bullish on the Suns may not have expected them to look so good so soon, led by new point guard Chris Paul and his backcourt partner Devin Booker.

Outside of those five teams and the 2-4 Rockets – who have been hard to get a handle on due to the James Harden drama and their early COVID-related absences – virtually every other club in the West can be classified as “middle of the pack.”

Four of those teams – the Pelicans, Jazz, Warriors, and Kings – have 4-4 records, while five others – the Nuggets, Mavericks, Spurs, Trail Blazers, and Thunder – are at 3-4.

Some of those clubs entered the season with much higher expectations than others. Denver and Dallas, for instance, likely aren’t thrilled to be tied with Oklahoma City in the standings. But after just seven or eight games, it’s hard to be too concerned or too excited about a record right around .500. The question now will be which of those teams can start pulling away from the pack and which ones begin falling off.

What do you think? What are your early impressions of the Western Conference race based on what you’ve seen so far?

Can the Suns maintain their hot start and vie for home court advantage in the playoffs, or is regression on the way? Do you expect some of those teams hovering around .500 to break away or fall off soon, or do you believe we’ll see many teams engaged in a tight, competitive race in that part of the standings all year long?

Head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

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15 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Western Conference Early Impressions

  1. harden (mvp),wall, and wood

    2 years ago Houston started 11-14 and ended up 53-29. History often repeats itself.

    • KnickerbockerAl

      It has Harden is biggest diva this again. Players have run away again. It does repeat. I don’t believe your a real Rocket fan. You might be a Har en fan. But you just want to flame. Rockets are better without Harden. Longer he stays the worse for the franchise.

  2. KnickerbockerAl

    Injuries are a big issue this yr. Hope it stops. Still the same top teams in west. Suns look gd but best I see. Is a first rd win. Lakers still team to beat. I’ll give it 30 gms or so. Before I get serious.

  3. Sillivan

    Wolves have only four 1st Overall picks for the past 8 years
    They should tank for 5th one in this year draft, top 3 protected
    Bennett
    Towns
    Wiggins
    Edwards
    Cumminghan?

  4. Sillivan

    Suns have not won any game against winning teams yet
    Kings and Clippers defeat Suns

    • x%sure

      Silli sillystats. Only three WC teams even have winning records so far. PHX beat 4-4 teams. They count

  5. Smokeyszn

    You obviously dont watch them so why comment on them. They beat denver, utah, toronto and pelicans. All were projected play off teams. They also beat the kings the 2nd time.

  6. El Don

    Luka has been down this year which has affected DAL so far, hopefully will change soon!
    Jokic has been by far the MVP of the start, monster play… I think they missed MPJ’s play he was at All-Star level the 4 games he has played, hopefully he will be back soon!
    LAL dominating despite the slow start of LBJ & AD, as expected Gasol been better for them than Ibaka for LAC.
    HOU… Optimus Dime, Harden & Wood real positives but they gotta find a way to get more out of DMC to win.
    POR not good, they are much worst this year, Whiteside was sooo good for them, Nurkic ain’t half the player Hassan is, bad times ahead in Oregon.
    MIN with KAT a lock for playoff time, without him not a chance!
    NOP suffering through Zion’s low start.
    PHO doing very well, but Booker & Ayton are having a veeery slow start, if they don’t improve a lot the Suns don’t have a shot at all!

    Wiseman needs to start playing according to his potential, he has been very underwhelming so far, he is much better than his play.
    LaMelo & Halliburton are running away for the ROY as things stand now… LaMelo has been beyond outstanding the last few games, I knew he was gonna be a star but… boy he is gonna be sooo good!

    • wagner13

      Gasol has been way better than Ibaka? Even if that’s true, do you really believe that will be sustainable?

      Minnesota with Towns is a lock for the postseason? Do you realize how tough the western conference is? This team has done nothing to suggest that would be the case.

      Also, how is Wiseman underwhelming? He’s been one of the better rookies thus far. Most players don’t enter the league and immediately light it up. Temper expectations and things will make more sense

      • I agree Wagner13@. El Don is off base with much of his post. Thanks for taking care of the first 3 items, I’ll take care of the rest.

        El Don, as far as Denver don’t forget they’re missing their starting forward to free agency and Michael Porter didn’t get going until the playoffs, so they will get it going probably but not for the reasons you mentioned.

        Rockets need to get more out of DeMarcus Cousins? Are you kidding me he’s 30 plus with major major leg injuries. He’s a bench support guy at this point. Pretty good outside shooter which will probably carry him to playing time but that’s about it. Remember he’s always been a smaller 6-10 Center that relied on strength and athleticism. Only thing left is his shooting now. Plus maybe some smarts and experience on the floor.

        The Blazers will be very very good this year. They’re acclimating new players on the wing which is something they lacked for five to eight years. Now they have key wing guys to go with their All Star guards and star Center. One thing that does hurt is losing Zach Collins, again. But I look for Portland to do major damage.

        You’re probably right about Dallas but porzingis being out, again, doesn’t help get their flow together. Hopefully Josh Richardson is the addition they’ve been looking for and they won’t miss the shooting they dealt away to get him.

        That’s it for now. Someone else can carry on.

  7. Cap & Crunch

    Lakers playing in 3rd gear right now and probably will for the first 37 games – Very sloppy, but even 8 games in its evident Schroeder is going to lead this team in mins and be a bigger part of the team than we imagined even in pre-season

    Pelicans cant close games out yet and show they’re immaturity every time I watch them

    I want to say the Kings make for a sneaky top 8 play but I just cant with Luke at the helm

  8. davethemailman

    My predictions to make the playoffs:

    Lakers
    Clippers
    Nuggets
    Mavs
    Portland
    Phoenix
    Utah
    Grizzlies

  9. x%sure

    Lakers 6-2 have new offenses to go to this year. Schroder & Harrell may not be great but LJ can get some rest without falling behind. Lebron is still doing it. They did lose their airtight defense but it still has strengths. I thought they would struggle early, not wrong, but they win anyway.

    Kings 4-4 gets a big boost with Haliburton. He has the right demeanor for being skinny, can put the team comfortable. Bagley is a mystery but I guess contributes his Bagleyness. Holmes was no fluke.

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