All of the eyes in the West will be on one team and one team only, the Golden State Warriors. Still seems almost impossible to fathom that Kevin Durant is now a Warrior. I was one of the people staunchly saying that it would never happen but low and behold, it did. Other teams in the West now have to deal with the Warriors possibly being even better than the record setting 73-9 team last year. Can they do it? Will the Warriors take a step back as they try to adjust to this new roster full of super stars? Let's break down the wild wild West! Fear not of my predictions, for I am the Master of the NBA Mechanical Stuff! (Don't care what anybody says, I LOVE Wild Wild West. It's so stupid that it's good/funny)
1. Golden State Warriors- If you think the Warriors will have issues this season, ya fuckin right. When you take the weakest link of the Warriors starting 5 last season and replace him with an MVP caliber talent, things are pretty good..pretty..pretty...pretty good. I can't see the Warriors losing more than 15 games this year. Everything just falls perfectly into line with them. Dumping Bogut and replacing him with a much more serviceable/healthy/cheaper Center in Zaza Pachulia was fantastic. Adding veteran David West was great too. They may even find a way to revive the one-time highly talented C Javale McGee. Rookie guard Patrick McCaw is already drawing "draft-steal" compliments. The good news just keeps rolling out of Oracle and the season hasn't even started yet. Things are going to be crazy fun this season, we are spoiled getting every locally televised game. Even if the Warriors sustain one or two injuries (knock on wood), they are still the best roster by far in the West. The Dubs coasting to the number one seed isn't a prediction, it's a fact.
Random thought for your thoughts- When do you have to buy a KD or Curry jersey? The answer is in 2018 when Nike officially takes over NBA apparel from that soccer/Nazi company Adidas. (Can't Wait)(#NikeT's&ShortsToo)
2. Los Angeles Clippers- With a healthy Blake Griffin and a new-found fresh hatred of the Dubs up North, I fully expect the Clippers to play with a massive chip on their shoulder all season. Coach/Team Prez Doc Rivers is one of the few who believe that the Warriors aren't as stacked/talented as most feel they are. Rivers goes out of his way every off season to down play the Warriors achievements and play the "we were injured" card for an excuse to the Clippers under achievements. Well this is the year to put up some real results. Their roster is virtually the same aside from a few rookies and adding former Warrior Mo Speeets. If the unit of DeAndre Jordan/Griffin/CP3 can't make it to the NBA Finals this year or at least the Western Conference Finals, it's time to blow it up, which is exactly what Rivers would do. I expect the Clippers to have a strong record during the season and maybe even beat the Warriors once or twice but their success/health remains to be determined till playoff time. One thing is for sure though, the WarriorsVClippers is definitely as heated as GiantsVDodgers these days, we WILL see some chippy games between the two.
Random thought for your thoughts- The Clippers are finally trying to move out of the Staples Center into their own arena. Playing in an arena where all the title banners of the Lakers over-shadow none of yours is brutal.
3. San Antonio Spurs- Tim Duncan finally hung up his shoes, bringing an end to possibly the most successful and at the same time most boring players of our generation. Duncan's leadership and consistency will sorely be missed. Replacing him with Pau Gasol and David Lee was a decent move but neither play a lick of defense so that could be troublesome. Tony Parker is on a medium-paced decline and can't keep up with the newer generation of point guards in the NBA. There's already rumors of Lamarcus Alderidge not panning out and could be placed on the trading block. Weird/random/probably untrue rumors aside, the Spurs still have Greg Popovich and they still have Kawhi Leonard. They may not be as dominant as they have been the past 2-3 seasons but they will still be difficult to beat at home and give opposing teams a hard fight every single game. Plus Popovich has an uncanny ability to get the most out of different, random players every season that most other teams wouldn't even dream of.
Random thought for your thoughts- How boring will Spurs basketball be now that their most boring player retired? The answer is..still pretty boring.
4. Portland Trail Blazers- Never doubt a man from Oakland. Damien Lillard is a force and has bitter cold ice in his veins. He's going to earn a few MVP votes this season simply because he doesn't quit and fears no team or player. The Blazers already were a surprise playoff team last season and gave the Warriors a good run for their money. While I'm not a huge fan of Evan Turner (in fact, not a fan at all) he will take some pressure off Lillard and other sharp shooter CJ McCollum. They over-paid to steal Festivus Ezelli away from the warriors so it remains to be seen if Festivus will make the jump the Blazers hope he will. Al Farouq-Aminu made a huge impact during the playoffs last season and a random assortment of other NBA vets/talents (Crabbe, Harkless, Davis, Napier, Plumblee, Vonleh) could all contribute nicely. For now though, the Blazers remind me of a younger, Atlanta Hawks team. Lots of pieces/talent but putting it all together come playoffs will be tough. I still foresee the Blazers being one of the better teams out West and securing first round home court advantage.
Random thought for your thoughts- Lillard will drop 50+ points one, possibly two games on the Warriors this year, that's a Sam-D Guarantee.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder- A lot of people see Russell Westbrook taking home the MVP trophy this year. It's not at all crazy to believe. Westbrook is in his prime and will now be the sole team-leader for the Thunder this season. Of course not having Kevin Durant for the first time in Westbrook's career/Thunder team history will definitely hurt, the Thunder still have a talented roster and a good coach in Billy Donovan to boot. A lot of people forget that the Thunder were one win away from axing the Warriors in the playoffs last year. Serge Ibaka was becoming irrelevant in the Thunder's schemes so he was shipped to Orlando and brought in Victor Oladipo. Oladipo is crazy explosive around the basket, similar to Westbrook so the dunks and fast break scores will be in high supply when those two are on the floor together. Centers Enes Canter and Steven Addams will continue to progress with the former scoring in high amounts, the latter playing solid defense/rebounding. The Thunder may have gotten a huge blow to their franchise after losing KD, but their recovery won't be nearly as bad as most people think.
Random thought for your thoughts- While Westbrook is incredible, if he gets hurt and misses more than a month, I say the Thunder would likely miss the playoffs. He's THAT important/good.
6. Memphis Grizzlies- Ugh, the Grizzlies. They are similarly as frustrating as the Hornets but in a different way. How so? Well, Mike Conley resigned this offseason and is now the second highest player in ALL of the NBA, only making less than Lebron James. The Griz also signed Chandler Parsons to a deal that makes him the 11th highest paid player in the NBA. What do Conley and Parsons have in common? They both have never made an All-Star team. On top of that, firing Dave Joerger after putting him through roster injury-hell last season while still making the playoffs is a bad look. Getting a healthy Marc Gasol back will be much needed and I expect the Griz to get back into the playoffs but have their usual early exit. This is a high-paid roster so expecting playoffs is not crazy. Keep an eye out to see if aging/expensive veterans Zach Randolph and Tony Allen hit the trade block rumor mill.
Random thought for your thoughts- Same as above. Mike Conley only trails Lebron James as the highest paid player in the NBA (26.5mil/yr). Mind-Blowing.
7. Utah Jazz- This is the year I think the Jazz will make that playoff leap. All the Jazz roster was missing last season were seasoned veterans off the bench and consistent point guard play. Well they traded for the solid PG in George Hill and signed vets Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw. While the three of those players won't have statistically great seasons for the Jazz, they will provide the leadership and guidance the youth on the roster sorely needs. The Stifle Tower in Rudy Gobert will continue to clog the paint, Gordon Hayward could be a fringe all-star and the young/promising Australian PG Dante Exum is healthy again from a torn ACL. Don't forget about F Derrick Favors too, he's one of the best big-man you've never hear about in the West. The Jazz play great defense, have youth, length and now determination. A playoff spot is now theirs to lose in my opinion.
Random thought for your thoughts- The Jazz played the 73-9 Warriors better than any other team in the NBA last year. Keep that in mind..
8. Houston Rockets- I originally had the Rockets missing the playoffs when I started this but changed my mind. It still blows my mind that Mike D'Antoni keeps getting head-coach work in the NBA based off of two successful seasons all those years ago in Phoenix when he had an MVP in Steve Nash running his offense. I guess the thinking was that D'Antoni can emulate that success with a similar player in James Harden. The Rockets will score in droves but lose 137-123 type games. The veteran pick-ups in Nene, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon are decent but all three have extensive injury histories. Not sure how long other veterans like Corey Brewer and Trevor Ariza will last in D'Antoni's system, they might be trade-targets for teams early in the year. Even if the Rockets finish higher in playoff seeding, their playoff performances are lack-luster and they will most certainly be picked apart and/or killed by the Warriors or Spurs if they run into either of them.
Random thought for your thoughts- Mike D'Antoni hasn't won more than one playoff game since 2007. He's gone 243-281 since.
No Playoffs for you!!!
9. Dallas Mavericks- Oh man, Dallas fans are gonna be PISSED when they realize halfway through the season that the Warriors dumped two of their worst players on them. When the aging Dirk Nowitzki needs someone to help shoulder the load, they are going to find that Harrison Barnes 12ppg average isn't enough and also find Andrew Bogut on the DL with a rib/bone bruise contusion swelling of the bone. Then before they know it, they are 5 games under .500 with 20 games left and not looking like a playoff team. Coach Rick Carlise will keep the team afloat/relevant but I can't put any stock in them making the playoffs in an already difficult West. I do like the Seth Curry signing but it's time to start looking for the new era of Mavericks basketball. Trade vets for picks and youth to start over in 2018. It's going to be awhile before Mark Cuban gets to boast about another NBA title with his last one coming from what seems like ages ago.
Random thought for your thoughts- Nowitzki will be the first and only European-born NBA Hall of Fame Player when he finally decides to retire. No wonder the USA still dominates Olympic hoop.
10. Minnesota Timberwolves- Young and explosive but not quite just there yet for playoffs. Karl Anthony-Towns was unspeakably good in his rookie year so watching him become a top-3 Center in the NBA is not only going to happen, it might already be done. The Wolves ownership essentially gave all decisions and coaching over to Tom Thibodeau. Thibs preaches defense and hard-work which is something a young roster like the Wolves can really thrive with. Once they get their shit together this season and iron out all the kinks, I see the Wolves getting a great playoff seed in 2018. Lavine/Wiggins will continue to grow and progress their games, Gorgi Dieng and Shabazz Muhammed are both great options off the bench. I still don't understand why the NBA loves the severely over-rated Ricky Rubio still but every team has a guy like that. Wolves at the very least will be must-watch basketball these next coming seasons.
Random thought for your thoughts- Kevin Garnett is rumored to saying that he wants to own the T-Wolves one day, he's made an NBA record 343.7 million in career earnings, so that's a decent head-start.
11. New Orleans Pelicans- Drafting sharp-shooter Buddy Hield was a good start but Anthony Davis having no legit Robin to his Batman will continue to hurt the Pelicans. Whenever I look at their roster, I can only shake my head. Jrue Holiday? Tyreke Evans? Omer Asik? Lance Stephenson? Gross. Until the Pelicans pair another legit All-Star will Davis, this team is going nowhere. Davis may have an incredible season and maybe even squeak the Pelicans into the playoffs all by himself but that would be about it. About ten teams in the NBA drive me bonkers with their decisions, the Pelicans are top-3 there for me.
Random thought for your thoughts- New Orleans will get the 2017 All-Star Game/Week this year after it was taken away from Charlotte. #ElMijoB-DayPresent/Trip??
12. Denver Nuggets- Another team filled with random misfits and border-line talent. The Nuggets need time to see what exactly they have and would be best to move forward with. Deciding if they want or don't want Kenneth Faried will be their biggest thorn in their side all season. While Emmanuel Muiday and their two Euro Centers grow and develop the Nuggets won't be able to put up much of a fight late in games and will ultimately fall short. Flipping Faried for a lottery pick seems like the best option moving forward, this team isn't going any where too fast. Other veterans in Will Barton, Darrell Arthur and Wilson Chandler could all be put on the trading block as well.
Random thought for your thoughts- I have none for this team. Sorry.
13. Sacramento Kings- The brand new downtown Sacramento arena and fresh jerseys will be the only good thing going for the Kings this year. Drafting two Centers when you already have three of them on your roster (One of them being an All-Star in Cousins) is stupid on top of stupid. Cousins already isn't the biggest fan of Kings upper management so bringing in guys that play his position is most certainly evidence that the Kings might finally trade him if any one of their Centers proves to be serviceable/consistent. It's a gamble though and won't bring any wins to Sacramento effectively. Vlade Divac continues to flop as Kings GM just as much as he flopped as a player. Keeping good trade chips like Rudy Gay and Ben Maclemore is beyond dumb when they are both worth picks. Added veterans like Matt Barnes, Arron Afflalo, Jordan Farmer and Ty Lawson will all either be hurt or non-impact players. Oh and their other PG in Darren Collison just got in trouble for beating his GF this off-season. Great roster you got there, Vlade! Trent Baalke would be proud of you.
Random thought for your thoughts- Driving up to Sacramento might be the most affordable/best way to see the Warriors play this season. Not to mention a brand new arena that you can actually move comfortably through without rubbing shoulders/limbs with 80 weirdos standing in a 20-minute concession food line.
14. Los Angeles Lakers- The Kardashians of the NBA, I give you the LA Lakers. I didn't hate the Lakers when they were good but man do I hate them now that they are bad. Why? Because it's unwatchable basketball. The Staples Center is the worst home venue for basketball. Clowns like Swaggy-P and Metta World Peace actually play for this team. DeAngelo Russell represents everything old people hate about Millennials. They gave Luol Deng 18 million dollars and Timofey Mosgov 16 million dollars this offseason to come play in LA LA Land. Jordan Clarkson is the only player I like on the Lakers roster, the rest of them I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. Watch Brandon Ingram turn into another run-in the-mill Duke NBA player with no NBA titles to show for it. Until the Lakers become a playoff team again, they are unwatchable but don't worry because they will get 30 games on ESPN/TNT this year. Pathetic.
Random thought for your thoughts- Timofy Mozgov makes more than 2x MVP Steph Curry, Finals MVP Andre Iguodala & All-Star Draymond Green
15. Phoenix Suns- I was appalled at the performance of the Suns at the one game of theirs I attended last season. Granted, most of their players were injured and they just fired HC Jeff Hornaseck but seeing what the Suns were putting out on the floor was down right atrocious. GM Ryan McDonough is the WORST GM in all of the NBA. I could and will one day do a better job of running that franchise's roster. If only Suns owner Robert Sarver would return my emails. I'd make everyone expect Barbosa (veteran presence) and Devin Booker (Future) available for trade. Everyone else can go piss up a rope and bring me back draft picks. I'd then beg Sir Charles to become my Jerry West/Special Adviser and build from the ground-up. Any who, this team will be bad, plain and simple.
Random thought for your thoughts- Aside from the team being shit, they have some of the coolest jersey's in the NBA. SF Giants colors just look good for every team.
By: El Mijo