Blogtable: Making sense of the West

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

The Western Conference is wacky. Which team that is now, this second, playoff-bound is most likely to miss the playoffs?

Steve Aschburner: Utah. Devin Harris instills zero confidence in me right now. I’m not sold on the Jazz at either end of the floor, and I’m especially not sold on their home/road breakdown so far. After just six road games, and a 2-4 mark in them, the Jazz have miles to go – literally – to demonstrate they can be as good away from Salt Lake City as they’ve been (10-3) at home.

Fran Blinebury: The Lakers are slow, old, without a bench, rely too much on the “inspiration” of Metta World Peace and are dangling by a tendon in Kobe Bryant’s right hand.  If he goes down, the Purple Palace crumbles.

Scott Howard-Cooper: I take no pleasure in saying it, but the Jazz. Too much youth, too little dependable play at point guard. They will get to the playoffs one day and stay there a long time. In a tight race, though, experience matters, a lot.

Shaun Powell: Would not be surprised if the Jazz were to slip out of contention down the stretch. And that’s not because of anything they’ll do wrong. It’s just the competition is too great, and will stay that way, barring a major injury that sinks one of the contenders. Speaking of which, Memphis can only get better when Z-Bo returns, which is bad news to the rest of the West. And don’t reject the idea of the Timberwolves sneaking up and reaching the playoffs just yet.

John Schuhmann: Utah. Tyrone Corbin and the Jazz deserve a lot of credit for taking advantage of a home-heavy early schedule, something that most of us weren’t expecting them to do. Looking at opponent winning percentage, they’ve had the 13th toughest schedule thus far, and they’ve picked up some quality wins. But they’ve played just six road games, have the fifth-worst road point differential in the league, and haven’t played two straight road games since they lost by a combined 42 points to the Lakers and Nuggets to start the season. I’ll believe they’re a playoff team if I see them in the top eight on March 11, after they’ve played 13 of their last 18 on the road.

Sekou Smith: I’d love to answer this question Feb. 15. By then Houston Rockets will have finished a wicked stretch that will see them play seven of eight games on the road in a two-week stretch. If they survive that treacherous patch of the season, then I’ll know that their recent surge is more than just a momentary blip. I love what Kevin McHale has them doing right now and Kyle Lowry is having a monster season. I’m just a little apprehensive about climbing aboard the bandwagon without a little more evidence that this thing is for real.

30 Comments

  1. dan'o says:

    Folks seem to forget that a new system takes awhile to congeal … especially with a shortened camp and season.

  2. LetsBeRealCuties says:

    The Lakers will no doubt make the playoffs, they don’t need Dwight Howard. Kobe, Pau, and Bynum alone will get them there. Mind you, this is the same team that won back to back championships. There have been a few shuffles here and there: Ariza, Brown, and Odom may have been lost, but this team is still a strong team. The weakness is the PG, and David Stern made sure to spread the wealth with that Veto.
    Regardless, the lakers will be the most dominant team in Los Angeles for a long time. Once the PG is figured out, whomever it may be, they will be back on track. I respect the clippers and what they are doing, but until they win a championship and CP3 gets a ring, much like Lebron, I will remain skeptical.
    Kobe may be old, but he is the smartest and most prolific scorer currently in the league. He brings championships.

  3. Erik says:

    The Lakers will make it to the Playoffs don’t know how far they will get. Now I think that the strongest teams on da west right now are the defending champs Mavericks, OKC, Memphis, Salt Lake City, and, The Clipperst. Don’t forget da Match up that OKC gave the Lakers last year if it wasn’t for the last shot that Paul made at da last second the Lakers wouldn’t have played The Mavs Westbrook, and Durant are very talented. Now Memphis with Mark Gasoul, and Z-Bo can prove something this year if they can but all their players in good use. The Jazz have a very strong vision in the way they play if they can continue this up they can get really far. Last but not least Clippers are a strong young team but i think they need a little more play off experience and the players have to get more to know each other on the way they play on the court.

  4. Erik says:

    The Lakers will make it to the Playoffs dont know how far they will get. Now I think that the strongest teams on da west right now are the defending champs Mavericks,OKC, Memphis, Salt Lake City, and last but not Least The Clipperst. Dont forget da Match up that OKC gave the Lakers last year if it wasn’t for the last shot that Paul made at da last second the Lakers wouldn’t have have played The Mav’s Westbrook, and Durant are very talented. Now Memphis with Mark Gasoul, and Z-Bo can prove somethin this year if they can but all their players in good use. The Jazz have a very strog vision in the way they play if they can continue this up they can get prety far. the Clippers are a strong young team but i think they need a little more play off expiriance and the players have to get more comftable with each other on the way they play on the court.

  5. winningiseverything says:

    lakers will still be a playoff team no doubt about it. clips will never rule the L.A unless they have 17championship in display, in fact the game series between them is tied 1-1 so tell me can clips easily overcome lakers history? in terms of kobe carrying the team are you watching everytime lakers has a game? you talk nonsense brother. kobe putting up 30pts per game mentioning he is the top scorer of the league this season and his doing it with injury on his right wrist. tell me does “he don´t have the power to carry the team anymore…”????

    • carlos says:

      history doesn’t play on the court and an injury can devastate any team, what matters is how that team reacts and adjusts to adversity.

  6. carlos says:

    given the wierd shortened season schedule, anything can happen, there are teams who critics label as to old but these are the temas who are usually making it into the playoffs on a consistent basis, remember the old utah jazz? they made the playoffs 19 years straight and the later part of that run on the shoulders of two old players (stockton, malone) who were pushing into their late 30′s, yes that was a team that would go on to loose to the eventual champions like the lakers, rockets and bulls but makingit to the playoffs is a matter of team chemistry and staying healthy more than a matter of age or big name superstars, teams like the spurs and the celtics could have had more championships if they could had stayed healthy or the chemistry of the team hadn’t been changed by late season trades, remember the old rockets? they traded for barkley and never won a championship again, why? because one player can’t replace for team chemistry and that’s what the rockets lost with that trade, if kobe bryant stays healthy and pau gasol and bynum keep playing a solid game i think the lakers cna go deep into the playoffs but the same thing can be said about another “old” team like the spurs, if duncan stays heatlhy and they get ginobili back and parker finds his game, perhaps the spurs have a better bench than the lakers, everyone is talking about the younger teams like the thunder and clippers but it seems like a skid on the raod may send either team into a loosing streak since their team’s chemistry has not been cemented with time and neither of these teams has the experience to overcome an injury to one of their stars, this season should be an interesting and no one should loose track of the defending champions who just like last year were an unheralded contender that won it all at the end, don’t be surprized to see the jazz, timberwolves and nuggets stirring things up in the west conference playoffs either, there’s plenty of basketball to be played, we’ll see.

  7. JSM says:

    I think 6 of the 8 teams that are in the playoffs right now will stay there. (I´m not sure about the Lakers & the Jazz)
    The Lakers will make the playoffs if Kobe stays healthy.
    I think there is going to be a dog fight for the final playoff spot between Memphis, Houston, Utah & Minnesota with tendency to Memphis.

  8. BOSBrill says:

    Why are people even entertaining these outrageous opinions of the lakers from people who obviously dont know basketball. Really? the clippers are the superior team are u crazy? people seem to forget CP3 has played with 2 all stars before and what did they do *Crickets* sure they had a solid record in the west but when the playoffs come and the tempo of the game slows down (since every possession counts) they crumble. similar to what Miami did last year in the finals. The game is totally different when its based on Half court sets rather than full court run and gun. which is built for the Lakers to succeed as well as team like San Antonio & Dallas. with 2 7 footers a slow tempo offense and the greatest player of this generation theyll surely be fine come playoff time. as a Point Guard CP3 takes too many shots. it will always be his downfall i guess u can call it a gift and a curse. and also its nice to see deandre jordan catch lobs and have monster dunks but come playoff time he’ll disappear as all the other ones do. hes just a tall athletic player no where near an actual Center. Bynum will destroy him.

    • jan279 says:

      The CP3 Hornets crumbled in the playoffs?! You kidding?! If you’re talkin’ ’bout their disappointing performance in their series against Denver in ’09, don’t generalize! Don’t forget that the Hornets nearly reached the West finals back in ’08! They pushed their series with the Spurs to a Game 7!

  9. dmkb24 says:

    lakers are for sure making the playoffs. First the lakers have the best player in the nba- kobe bryant second we have the second best big in the league bynum and third we have pau. People might say he’s soft but he has great foot work hes unstoppable in the paint

  10. Mike says:

    The Lakers will make playoffs!!! I do not think they will win a championship this season even with a trade because of the lack of chemistry between players and their coaching staff. However i think people are wrong when they say they won’t make it far but i really disagree with that because i feel the Lakers can hang with every team in the west other than OKC. Lakers have proven they could beat denver, clippers, mavericks, houston etc. The west is up for grabs this year =] Finally for those that think this a battle for LA, there is no battle! I mean really i understand that the past is the past and that the lakers having won 16 championships before does not mean anything in this season, however the past does create a culture in Los Angeles and it will definitely take more than one good season or a championship or two to take over LA because it is and will continue being Laker town and if you cant understand that you either dont live in LA or you are a laker hater. THE END

  11. Aaron says:

    How can they be making the comments about the road record for the Jazz when the Clips have the same road record and the Lakers are worse at 2-7? San Antonio and Portland only have 1 more win than the Jazz and a bunch more losses on the road. OKC, Denver and MN are the only 3 teams with winning records in the west. I can see the Jazz not making the playoffs but don’t use road stats to make your case when everyone else is just as bad if not worse.

  12. JJC says:

    Anyone who believes that the Clippers will best the Lakers in the playoffs are crazy. Make no mistake that with the addition of Chris Paul and the consistancy of Blake Griffin will definitely make them a problem but the Lakers have always ruled LA and probably always will. I atone the Lakers’ mediocre record to the new staff and adjustments needing to be made. The Lakers do need a point guard but they in no way shape or form need Dwight Howard. A couple games after the All-Star Break and the Lakers will be back to what they do best. Winning. I really hope that the Lakers draw the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. So far the season series is knotted at 1-1 but both games have been highly entertaining. The only reason why the Clips have a better record is because they are more familiar with the coaching schemes and they have played at least 3-4 games less than the Lakers.

  13. Jase says:

    The Lakers and Clippers are definitely going to make the playoffs this year. They only had slow starts because they had to adjust to their new team. But Andrew Bynum has been killing it and so is Kobe. For sure, they’ll make the playoffs, but to actually take it all? That’s the question. Sure, the Clippers are now a great team, but they’ll never rule Los Angeles. In a seven game series, they’ll never last against the Lakers. I’m a Los Angeles native and HATE the title of “Lob City” or “Lob Angeles.” Just saying.

  14. Kobe@Mla_Phil says:

    Of course LAKERS will enter the playoffs but unless they get a new point guard, they will not make it in the first round.. That’s for sure..

  15. D Lion says:

    Nobody said anything about Portland. They just HAPPENED to ask this question the day after Portland “fell” to 9th. Lakers, Rockets, and Blazers were in a 3-way tie @ 12-9, each with 1 win over one of the other 2 teams and a loss to the other (POR beat LAL, LAL beat HOU, HOU beat POR). When Lakers won, they moved up, and since Houston temporarily has tiebreaker over Portland, Portland is in 9th. They are in the picture, but were mentioned by nobody as a team currently not in the top 8 but still a threat. Strange…

    Btw, Ryan may be overrating Wolves, but compare road records:
    OKC:8-3
    DEN:7-4
    MIN:5-4
    The fact that Wolves have a top 3 road record in the West is scary. Once they start winning in Target Center, they will be a contender in the West, no question.

  16. ghghg says:

    Once the Lakers figure out the offense, watch out. i believe the lakers will represent the western conference in the finals, and possibly win it all should Lebron disappear again (bulls are my 2nd pick to make it).OKC is overrated and doesn’t play good defense. Given the fact they give up 13 offensive rebounds a game, that is not a championship team.

  17. Basketball101 says:

    Kobe Bryant is still the best player in the game. He’ll never sit out of the play offs ever again. (just saying) When it was him Chris Mimn, Smoosh Parker and a bunch of bums he carried the lakers to the playoffs. Hes got Pau who is still a double double beast. Bynum who is playing out of his MIND right now. And old reliable Fisher…whose always waiting to hit that big shot. Artest who leads the defense. I mean that team is stacked. Yes they are old, but lets be real. Kobe Bryant is Kobe Bryant. Im not a laker fan, I just understand basketball. You NEVER count the lakers out. Kobe LIKES when people talk trash hes using all this trash talk as motivation. #HEATALLDAY

  18. Karl Anciro says:

    Here comes Kobe’s haters.

  19. Jon says:

    I see a typo.. should be Fran BlinDbury

  20. GodAlmighty says:

    @Ryan…Your really over rating the timberwolves

  21. Demetrius Jones says:

    The Lakers will go to playoff and they will beat everybody they play and Kobe will win his 6th championship

  22. Ryan says:

    omg u guys why u talkin about the jazz there about 2 long hard years away people we r seeing a t wolves team just grow and grow b4 our eyes and know there finally 100% helth wise. WEST watch the $@#! out!!! lol there coming and K.love is hungry……and ill b the first to hate the lakers but to say there not gonna make the playoffs lmfao they’ll make it but not further than the second round :( im always hoping for a laker lose makes my day lol

  23. I agree with most of the scribes on this one. I expect that Utah would be the team most likely to drop out of the playoffs by the time the regular season ends. They have admittedly played better than I expected them to play early in this season and they seem to be establishing an identity sooner than I expected as well.

    But with that said, in my opinion, of the eight teams currently sitting atop the Western Conference, the Utah Jazz is the team most likely to suffer a 3-5 game losing streak which would probably put them on the outside looking in. But there is still a lot of basketball to be played and we will see what happens.

  24. CoachAiree00 says:

    how can people say the Lakers are old and weak??? Bynum is having a break-out year, Pau is being consistent as always, and Kobe’s playing like he was when he was younger. 30PPG at the age of 33(16th season). The bench for LA scored 44 points last night and almost all the bench players can hit 3 pointers. Don’t sleep on LA, they’re a great team

  25. prix says:

    I think the Lakers won´t make it to the playoffs this year..they were old and weak…beaten badly by some poor teams…the Clips will rule L.A and OKC will be the top in the West…too bad for Kobe…he don´t have the power to carry the team anymore…

    • Sbfern805 says:

      @prix WTH Are you saying? Old and Weak? lmao!!! what do you base this on? you are telling me San Antonio is young and strong? Look! Clippers never ruled LA and never will…they need a few championship banners to do so ( ABOUT 16 of them). Second Kobe does not have to carry the whole team…there is enough talent in the Lakers to make it to the Playoffs with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum…will the Lakers win? thats a different question, but playoffs is a given… AND a few tips…watch some NBA first to give your opinion…

      • I Ball Harder Than You says:

        sorry buddy but you are living in the past. the lakers won 16 championships in the past 50 years… Lets keep them in the last 50 years. As for right now, Clipperland is on the rise, while Lakerland is falling fast. If The clippers are a far superior basketball team… the own the town. If you want to ressurect the showtime lakers to come take the town back… id say be my guest by its impossible. WELCOME TO LOB ANGELES HOMIE!

      • Pat says:

        Pat likes this