Projecting The West Playoff Order



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Adding Dwight Howard to a Los Angeles Lakers team that was one of the top teams in the Western Conference was supposed to vault the Lakers into the championship elite last summer.

It never happened. Howard and Steve Nash failed to move the needle for the Lakers, who had to claw their way to a seventh seed in the playoff chase, only to be swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

So please forgive me for not crowning the Houston Rockets prematurely. They’ve got Howard in the fold now, adding the best big man in basketball to an explosive core that includes All-Star James Harden and a solid supporting cast.

Legitimate playoff outfit?

Absolutely.

But contenders … not so fast my friends.

They should be in the mix. And as coach Kevin McHale told NBA.com’s Fran Blinebury, they should be able to “play with anybody.” Playing with the best and beating the best come playoff time, however, are two very different things. Just ask the Los Angeles Clippers, who thought they had arrived last season and were disposed of in the first round of the playoffs.

We’ve already delivered our projections, based on what we know now, for the Eastern Conference playoff-chasers for the 2013-14 season. These are the projections for the Western Conference:

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

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Any suggestions that the Thunder would be better off without Russell Westbrook at the controls were answered in the playoffs. The Inside The NBA crew (above) knows as well as the rest of the NBA-watching masses. OKC was a shell of its regular-season selves without the All-Star point guard, who suffered a knee injury in their first-round series against Houston. Kevin Durant is a behemoth, the second best player in the league behind LeBron James, but no one superstar is going to climb the Western Conference mountain on his own. The Thunder are in a precarious position because all of their competitors seem to be making power moves to catch and surpass them. Without sufficient cap space to deal themselves, they have to rely on a rock-solid core group maintaining their respective positions. That means Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins have to show better than they did in the playoffs. Reggie Jackson has to play a more prominent role this season and appears to be ready for that. And Jeremy Lamb has to move into a regular spot in the rotation as well. Rookie Steven Adams, the 12th pick in the Draft, is more of a project right now. But the Thunder don’t need him to be an impact player. Not if everyone stays healthy and Westbrook returns to form.

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

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When training camp begins, the Spurs will probably still be answering questions about the championship they let slip away. Two 30-second intervals during Games 6 and 7 of The Finals got away from them and cost Tim Duncan title No. 5 and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili title No. 4. And make no mistake, that trio, and Duncan in particular, is the key to the Spurs getting back to that stage again. If Duncan can crank out another fountain-of-youth, All-NBA-type performance like he did this season, the Spurs have a shot to rule the Western Conference again. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green emerged during the playoffs as more than just young prospects. Leonard could be a legitimate All-Star candidate himself if he picks up where he left off in The Finals. The Spurs always find a way to mine the Draft and free agency for young talent to incorporate into their system. But they won’t need as much assistance with both Ginobili and Tiago Splitter sticking around in free agency. Keeping their biggest stars healthy and rested, something coach Gregg Popovich paid for dearly last season, is of the utmost importance. As long as they do that, a top-four spot in the playoff chase should be a given.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

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With all apologies to Howard and even Chris Paul, the biggest fish of the free-agent summer of 2013 was coach Doc Rivers — not one of the players projected to be the big prize. The fact that Rivers was under contract for three more years in Boston when the summer began makes what the Clippers did even more remarkable. Not only do the Clippers get one of the best coaches in the game, they got a senior vice president of basketball operations who paid immediate dividends by keeping Paul in free agency and helped them add J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley in trades. They had to move backup Eric Bledsoe and veteran swingman Caron Butler to make it happen, but they replaced him with Darren Collison. And they still have the key component from that explosive bench crew in Jamal Crawford, whose role could increase dramatically without Butler, Chauncey Billups or retired veteran Grant Hill in the mix. The one glaring issue they have is their frontcourt tandem of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. They weren’t up to the challenge against the Grizzlies and it cost the Clippers in a first-round defeat. Are they willing to accept the challenge Doc will pose to them? He won’t allow them to be outworked on defense and will demand they show the toughness that has eluded them in the past.

HOUSTON ROCKETS

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Welcome to paradise Jeremy Lin. Now you can officially put Linsanity behind you and play the role of facilitator. The real superstars are on the roster now, as both Harden and Howard will be the opposition’s focus every night. Lin, Patrick Beverly and Chandler Parsons have clearly defined roles on this team before they ever hit the floor together in an official capacity. Howard makes life easier on all of the Rockets’ specialists and role players, not to mention his fellow starters. Guys like Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Greg Smith and even Omer Asik, should he stick around and back off his trade demand, will find out just how different life can be with a healthy, happy and motivated Howard operating in the middle. Despite two straight down seasons (by his own lofty standards), he still led the league in rebounding and looked like he had shaken off the ill effects of his back surgery. McHale has to pull this all together quickly to ensure these young Rockets don’t get swallowed up by the expectations sure to come with their newfound celebrity.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

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Adding Andre Iguodala essentially at the expense of Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack, two key veterans who gave the Warriors superior bench production and quality locker room leadership, might not seem like a steep price to pay for some. But when you already have Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes on the roster … let’s just say that is a luxury most teams wouldn’t indulge this early in the process of trying to build a contender. The Warriors showed us some serious flashes of being a big-time player in the Western Conference for years to come with the work they did in the playoffs. They had the Spurs plenty nervous in the conference semifinals. But their shortcomings came back to bite them in the end. And they didn’t solve those issues in the Draft or free agency. Andrew Bogut and David Lee will have loads of work to do this season, provided they both make it to training camp. Both of their names surfaced in trade rumors leading up to the Draft and through the first week of free agency. Lee is an All-Star and, when healthy, an absolute force. But Bogut, due to injuries, has only shown glimpses of what he’s capable of. And at this stage of his career, a $14 million spot starter is certainly not a luxury the Warriors can afford.

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

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How important was Lionel Hollins to the Grizzlies during their run to the Western Conference finals? We’re going to find out this season. Because for all of the promise Dave Joerger brings to the position, there is no denying the impact Hollins made on Zach Randolph and reigning Kia Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol. And even Hollins couldn’t get them in a comfortable groove against the Spurs. The Thunder proved that nothing is guaranteed from one season to the next, not with injuries and the race for the top spot being as competitive as it has ever been in the rugged Western Conference. Bringing this group — Mike Conley, Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince, too — back intact might not be sufficient for returning to the Larry O’Brien final four tournament. The Grizzlies didn’t have the flexibility to tinker with the roster in free agency. The one change they could have made that could shake things up was to replace Hollins. By doing so with a guy who is familiar with this roster gives them some advantage that a completely fresh face would not have recognized. It won’t take long to see if Joerger has a handle on those intangibles. And if he does, the Grizzlies will climb this list.

DENVER NUGGETS

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The Nuggets will survive a tumultuous offseason that struck three significant blows to a team that seemed to be on the rise before yet another first-round playoff exit. The NBA’s Executive of the Year, Masai Ujiri, bolted for Toronto. The league’s Coach of the Year, George Karl, was relieved of his duties. And Iguodala is set to be signed and traded after agreeing to terms on that deal with the Warriors. That would normally be enough to knock a top team all the way back down to the lottery. The best move they’ve made so far this summer was hiring Brian Shaw to replace Karl. He’ll bring a steady hand to what was a shaky situation. The Nuggets will have an active and talented frontocurt rotation to work with in Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee, Darrell Arthur and free-agent pickup J.J. Hickson. Wilson Chandler will step in for Danilo Gallinari, who continues his recovery from knee surgery, and Evan Fournier, Corey Brewer and Randy Foye will provide depth on the wing. Ty Lawson and Andre Miller combined to form one of the league’s best 1-2 punches at point guard and they should be allowed plenty of freedom to operate in the system Shaw will employ. The Nuggets will continue to play at a tempo that suits their talent and home environment. They shouldn’t lose anything defensively either. Shaw isn’t the wild card that some of these other new coaches (Jason Kidd, Brad Stevens) could be in other situations. So don’t expect the Nuggets to crumble just because they’ve lost a few familiar faces.

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES

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No team endured more maddening injury issues this season than the Timberwolves. A healthy Kevin Love, however, changes their playoff outlook dramatically for the 2013-14 season. With their talent and dept, a legitimate run for the final playoff spot is not as far-fetched as it might seem. Ricky Rubio should be full healthy this season and the Timberwolves retained Chase Budinger, added Kevin Martin and have to do whatever it takes to keep restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic in the fold. Sure, it’s been a professional sports eternity since the Timberwolves last breathed playoff air (Kevin Garnett was still wearing the uniform in 2004). But coach Rick Adelman finally has the horses to make some serious noise. The franchise’s new head man, Flip Saunders, was the coach of that 2004 team that made the Western Conference finals, so he knows exactly what it takes for a Minnesota crew to cash in on its promise. It starts with Love and Rubio, their two biggest stars, staying healthy and playing up to their immense potential, both individually and as a dynamic duo.

JUST MISSED THE CUT: Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers

110 Comments

  1. Dallas fan says:

    Mark,
    Take Kirilenko, Ellis, Mo Williams, G Henderson, N Robinson and Jameson from free agency
    Try Greg Oden for a year
    Trade for Asik, Rondo and Jeff Green for Calderon, Harris, Ellington, Brand, Wright,
    Crowder, James, Beauvois
    To have a dream Dallas Mavericks
    First five- Rondo, Ellis, Nowitski, Green, Asik
    Bench – Mo Williams, Carter, AK47, Marion, Oden
    N Robinson, G Henderson, A Jameson

  2. Lakers fan says:

    So we have Nash, Kobe ,MWP?, Pau, Kaman for first five
    Bench – Blake, Meeks , Ebanks, Hill, Sacre, Goudelock, Morris, Farmar, Kelly

  3. Dallasfan says:

    My mavs first five Rondo, Ellis, Nowitski, Green, Asik
    Bench – Lin, Carter, Kirilenko ,Marion , Oden
    Roddy, Ellington, brand, wright, james

  4. Dallasfan says:

    How about Antwant Jamison? Jimmer Fredette is being shopped.

  5. Dallasfan says:

    Mavs should have signed Gerald Henderson,DJ Agustin vs Devin Harris. Add Mo Williams or Nate Robinson for Depth, How about Jason Maxiel. How about trading for Rondo and Jeff Green.

  6. Dallasfan says:

    If you get AK47, Ellis, Oden Dallas might be considered/included in these playoffs lists

  7. Dallasfan says:

    Mark,
    Take Kirilenko and Ellis now and trade for Asik later on. Calderon, Ellis , AK47, Dirk , Wright can be your first five for now. Carter, Marion, beauvois, brand, James wil be a complement bench. Try Oden for a year. Trade for unsigned draft picks or signed undrafted PGs,Centers.

  8. OC Architect says:

    I honestly don’t see much of a change in the teams that made the playoffs this year as opposed to last year. The order may change a bit but I think the same teams make it with no new upstarts breaking the ceiling. The west is too competitive to allow somebody to slip in.

    Top three are definitely OKC, Spurs and Clippers with perhaps the Clips and Thunder battling for the number one seed although this could change based on the rehabilitation of Westbrook and how effective and how much he can play next year.
    Next tier of teams would include the Rockets, Nuggets, Grizzlies, Warriors and perhaps the Lakers (are they that much older than the Spurs?). Grizzlies and Nuggets will be question marks as they adjust to new coaches and it will be interesting to see how the Warriors perform next season. I think they snuck up on a bunch of teams this year and next year they won’t be catching any teams by surprise. I still think the Lakers have a good core group of players but will be interesting to see the first month or so particularly if they don’t have Kobe back or he is back at substantially less than what he is capable of. If they falter early on in the season like this past season I could see them blowing the team up.

    I agree Minnesota will be improved provided they are healthy all year long, however, they would need to make a 14 game improvement to make the playoffs which will be difficult. They would also need to leap frog both Dallas and Portland to get there as I think both of those teams will remain competitive but not make the playoffs again. Utah, I think lost too much in free agency to remain in the mix for a playoff spot especially with the Pelicans getting better.
    RM

  9. Beast mode says:

    If Dallas get bynum and monta ellis which will probably happen it will be 1. Spurs 2. Okc 3.clippers 4. Rockets 5.warriors 6.dallas 7. Memphis8.denver

  10. ac says:

    1) San Antonio: Don’t ever count this team out. They’re coming off a finals run and aren’t losing anybody. Continue to bet against them, they really don’t care. They’ve resigned Splitter and added Bellinelli to an already very deep roster and will likely make a few more moves by the start of next season.

    2) Houston: If Dwight Howard is healthy you’re hands down looking at the most dangerous team in the West. They have all the pieces, great coaching, probably the best all-around guard in Harden, and a great bench.

    3) OKC: They’re still among the best in the league but without a third option and Perkins knees giving out all of a sudden the holes in their game have been exposed.

    4) Golden State: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson could both be all stars next year and make good on Mark Jackson’s claim that he has the best backcourt in the game. If their bigs stay healthy and Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes continue to progress, this team will be very dangerous

    5) LAC – Clippers have taken a step in the right direction by hiring Doc Rivers, but they don’t have the pieces to contend for a championship. The smart money says trade DeAndre Jordan for somebody who can actually play offense. Still a dangerous team though.

    6) Memphis – Can’t see them getting back to the conference finals with this team. They lack the depth and offense to make another deep run.

    7) Denver – Lost a number of key players (Iggy, Brewer) and Gallinari likely won’t be ready until midway through the season. Not to mention that George Karl guy.

    8) Minnesota – If they can stay healthy they’re as dangerous as anybody 5-8.

  11. Lesro89 says:

    Seriously, projections even before the FA period ends??? How about projections for the 2015 season right now???

    This is just a time waster.

  12. Julius says:

    Haha Thunder’s going to win, I’m pretty sure. Yes, they lost Martin but seriously, they don’t need him at all. They have very talented rooks who can replace him easily. and ofc, they’re going to focus more on defense, so yeah..

  13. Stephisbeast says:

    Rockets will not be as good as people are hyping them. And the Spurs will be super old next year.

  14. graham smyth says:

    1)OKC
    2)hou
    3)LAC
    4)GS
    5)SA
    6)MEM
    7)DEN
    8)PORT

  15. Wildstyle05 says:

    Lakers are DOA for this season no 1 round picks to try and help the team for the next two years plus Kobe coming into his last year on his deal don’t be suprise if he’ll get traded this year after he comes back I hate to say this going to be some dark years
    for Lakers everyone needs to Thank Jim Buss for the killing the Lakers Future .

  16. Those who put the LAKERS in the Top 5 Western teams are doing it for the following reasons:

    1. They think Magic & Kareem are still playing.

    2. They’re unaware of recent trades that have occured.

    3. They think Kobe faked his injury.

    4. They run of medication.

    5. All of the above.

    :-))

  17. bunbury says:

    What about ‘them LAKERS?? you still have kobe, nash, and gasol.

  18. Paul says:

    Dwight Howard is the youngest Starting 5 in the Lakers last season now he now a Rocket he’s the oldest player in the starting 5 line up! So Weird!!! LOLZ

  19. New Guy says:

    2014 West Play-offs. 2014 East Play-offs. What do you think?
    1. OKC 1. MIA
    2. SAS. 2. IND
    3. LAC. 3. NY
    4. HOU. 4. CHI
    5. GS. 5.BRKLYN
    6. MEM. 6. TOR
    7. POR. 7.CLE
    8. DEN. 8.BOS

  20. 1. Spurs
    2. Rockets
    3. Thunder
    4. Grizzlies
    5. Clippers
    6. Warriors
    7. T-Wolves
    8. Lakers

  21. ASIONG says:

    GO GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS, solid line up

  22. Tom says:

    No way OKC are #1 with no additions and losing Kmart. The clippers are also way overrated so long as their frontcourt is dunk-based, regardless of coaching.

  23. Sam says:

    1 – Spurs
    2 – Clippers
    3 – OKC
    4 – Golden State
    5 – Houston
    6 – Timberwolves
    7 – Grizzlies
    8 – Lakers

    book it.

  24. Kaare Weidling says:

    is it really fair to compare an injury-riddled Lakers squad to next years Rockets? Maybe they will not have the same amount of injuries. Could´nt that be possible? If the Lakers had been healthy i think they would have been in the top four in the West, but they really were´nt were they?

    • realist2013 says:

      The Lakers would be no better. Kobe wont let Nash fascilitate if you watched Kobe was taking the ball up the court most of the time. Sad as Nash is up ther with Kidd and Stockton and makes his teammates better and he can shoot. He had Howard who if they fed off him would have spread the defense, but Kobe still has that straight out of High School Ego which won’t let anyone else be the focus note the disputes with Shaq. No coach is going to let a jump shooter bbe the primary Offense when you have a high percentage big man in the paint that will force double teams and get the defense in foul trouble so yes they needed Phil Jackson who was bold enough to make Kobe listen and get those rings.

  25. Marc says:

    I agree with the order here I’m an Oklahoma City fan and I think they will make it back to the finals even though they don’t have garden but kd and Westbrook will always provide and as king as ibaka continues to get better and people coming off the bench can contribute then they will not have any problems in the playoff especially if the bigs they got in the draft come into their own

  26. Psymon says:

    6. Timberwolves ( Improved Love)
    7. Grizzlies ( without Hollins Memphis wont win and randolph wouldnt be the best)
    8. Nuggets ( Lawson and Faried, two good players

  27. Psymon says:

    Playoffs
    1.Spurs ( Duncan would better than he was before he retires)
    2.Houston ( Superman would score more points than the one in L.A)
    3 Clippers ( Under Doc and shoot 3s instead of dunking)
    4. OKC ( Martin gone, OKC wouldnt improve, leaving westbrook and durant to lead )
    5. Warriors ( Iguodala

  28. dustydreamnz says:

    1. Spurs
    2. Thunder
    3. Warriors
    4. Rockets
    5. Clippers
    6. Grizzlies
    7. Pelicans
    8. Blazers

    A lot will depend on injuries though, it’s a long season!

  29. J says:

    great stuff here is mine

    1 thunder
    2 spurs
    3 clippers
    4 golden state
    5 rockets
    6 nuggets
    7 grizzlies
    8 timberwolves

    I really enjoyed these 2 articles :D

    also I think the pelicans will make a push with the talent the brought in
    lakers will collapse
    jazz will blow up into a million pieces without big al

  30. Mohammed says:

    My Second prediction

    1) Clippers
    2) Thunder
    3) Rockets
    4) San Antonio
    5) Portland
    6) Warrior
    7)Nuggets
    8)Minnesota

  31. Nam says:

    1. SA
    2. LAC
    3. HOU
    4. OKC (If Westbrook is healthy, then OKC would be 3 and HOU 4)
    5. GSW
    6. MEM
    7. MIN
    8. DEN/POR (Not having Galllinari until who knows when could hurt DEN)

  32. thisamateurguy says:

    JAMES HARDEN WAS THE OKC SUCCESS.

  33. thisamateurguy says:

    wow, fake hype spotted, fake hype spotted !!
    okc has no chance against san antonio, with westbrook they are better but he is still a dumb PG. without him, they are like the orlando magics d12 team.
    so, they are a joke. perkins/ibaka = joke
    harden gone, martin was a joke, a now he is gone too, no replacement, super joke :)
    maybe jackson, but really this year okc is a comedy team, expect a lot of jokes.
    i hope durant has a good sens of humor

  34. Mohammed says:

    1) Clippers
    2) Thunder
    3) Rockets
    4) San Antonio
    5) Portland
    6) Warrior
    7)Nuggets
    8)Memphis

  35. RENE S. says:

    1. Spurs
    2. Thunder
    3. Warriors
    4. Nuggets
    5. Clippers
    6. Rockets
    7. Grizzlies
    8. Timberwolves
    REASONING: Spurs will be first because of how they shown their talent in the playoffs. The spurs could have won the NBA finals if it was not for one or two plays. OKC will be second because kevin martin is gone and an injured player (russell westbrook) will not be entirely the same. Warriors will be third because of the overall talent of the team. the team has teamwork and the ability to score. they have talented players such as curry, Thompson, iggy, david lee, and bogut. SCARY LINEUP! Nuggets was third last season, but due to injury and inconsistency they will be fourth. Similar to the denver nuggets, the clippers will also be in consistant. Having a new coach will not significantly change the clippers. Rockets with dwight howar will only bring the team two seeds up. having the horrible nightmare of LA Lakers, dwight Howard has not shown his full potential and might not until staying with one team. Dwight is an exceptional player, but he needs to build chemistry. Grizzlies will be seventh because having big men as their root core causes them to be inconsistant. grizzlies had a high seed last season because half of it they played with rudy gay. now that hes gone they will drop a couple of seeds. finally timberwolves is eight because they have the potential to be great if they do not experience anymore injuries.

  36. realist2013 says:

    OKC’s success will depend on how well lamb does and Ibaka offensively. Their lack of scoring in this past playoffs showed the value of westbrook. Teams know Durant and he will get theirs, They just have to limit everyone else. Memphis still has no perimeter shooters. Post game works on most teams, but when they face defenders that match up they struggle and thats where those shooters would help them spread the flior and make the help defender think twice.

  37. Nba101JB says:

    I don’t think okc will make number 1 seed they now have absolutely no bench (bad last year to) maybe #3 seed if Westbrook gets back healthy and same game

  38. Yayo903 says:

    Jones III is a beast. He will step in this season and give the Thunder a scoring punch off the bench. Reggie Jackson turned out very well after his rookie season, and I expect Jones to be just as good if not better.
    1.Thunder
    2.Spurs
    3.Clippers
    4.Rockets
    5.Grizzlies
    6.Warriors
    7.Nuggets
    8.T-Wolves

  39. paul davis says:

    Clippers
    OKC
    Spurs
    Houston
    GSW
    Nuggets
    Memphis
    PDX

  40. drinsanity says:

    Dont you know my biggest projection is love trade for asik. way back when i projected howard going to houston.lol

  41. 2014 West NBA Playoffs

    1. OKC
    2. SAS
    3. HOU
    4. GSW
    5. DEN
    6. LAC
    7. POR
    8. MEM

  42. NBA FAN says:

    1) OKC
    2) Spurs
    3) Clippers
    4) Houston
    5) Warriors
    6) Grizzlies
    7) Nuggets
    8) Timberwolves ( If Kevin Love and Rubio are healthy also Budinger and Martin are great)

  43. josh says:

    I really don’t think OKC is the team that will be there in the conference finals. Nor do I think the Spurs will be there (too tired). The Clippers, Rockets and Golden State will be the teams to beat!

  44. rafahornets says:

    Pelicans will surprise everyone. Will make the playoffs, beat media teams like the lakers, and in 2-3 years be contenders. Just watch.

  45. KINGS! says:

    How ’bout the Kings as the no. 8 seed? Hahaha! I wish!

  46. go dubs says:

    hey sekou…
    likely to fall in this playoff would be order nuggets and grizzlies. nuggets are really in flux team right now, grizzlies with a new coach? that will be tough…
    my playoff order:
    okc
    spurs
    rockets
    warriors
    clippers
    portland
    grizzlies
    wolves or kings

  47. Shawn K says:

    1-Spurs
    2-Clippers
    3-Thunder
    4-Rockets
    5-Warriors
    6-Grizzlies
    7-Nuggets
    8-Pelicans

  48. Dew says:

    I’d probably be close to what RealisticNBAFan says with a few minor adjustments to seeding. I think Warriors were honestly better with Jack over Iggy, but not worse so they may stay the same in my book as last year. Lakers I think will fare better without Howard as Kobe, Nash and Gasol will anchor their offense and give more mintues to guys like Clark and Meeks who gave them good mintues when it mattered late last season. They will be much better from the free throw line as well which might just get them a few more close game wins as well. On the other hand, Houston bumps up from making better use out of Howard and having a better compliment of scorers than the Lakers had. Not to mention, probably will be playing with his team mates more than 40-50 games each as the Rockets have proven their guys do not miss many games to injury. Teams that made it last year like Denver probably will play good enough to make it out east, but not have the record out west to squeeze in. Blazers will ride the Lillard, Alridge and the rest of their young squad in probably at 8th taking over for the teams not going to be in the tight race as Mavs, Jazz won’t come close. Unless of course Mavs make a splash with some FA’s, its not happening for them. And yes…to make it exciting, each first round would be crazy good based on each team right now going in if the playoffs started today! Not to mention the Rockets vs Lakers, Grizz vs Spurs rematch, Clips vs Warriors (create a new west coast rival). Not to mention, Could potentially see a SAS vs either OKC, HOU or LAL West Finals. I love this Game!! Let the drama begin!

    OKC
    SAS
    LAC
    HOU
    LAL
    GSW
    MEM
    POR

  49. Ale Trancoso says:

    There’s no way the Lakers can be counted out of the playoffs…it’s the Lakers…this list is just more fuel for Kobe’s fire!!!!

  50. Nash fan says:

    nah guys it will be:

    1 LAKERS
    2 CLIPPERS
    3 OKC
    4SPURS
    5ROCKETS
    6 GSW
    7 MEM
    8 ???

  51. chitown says:

    1. Spurs (adding Bellineli is a significant upgrade over Gary Neal)
    2. Clippers (Doc Rivers is new coach, CP3 returns, core intact)
    3. Thunder (despite losing Kevin Martin, Thunder can still develop young players like Lamb and Jones III)
    4. Grizzlies (resigning Tony Allen, same core players)
    5. Rockets (Dwight Howard is a big upgrade, Jeremy Lin can improve)
    6. Warriors (adding Igoudala does hamper Harrison Barnes playing time but hes still a good pickup, but they lost Jarrett Jack)
    7. Denver (No more Igoudala or George Karl, still have Ty Lawson Kennett Faried and Javale Mcgee)
    8. Timberwolves (adding Chase Budinger and Kevin Martin help bench, healthy Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio will carry them)

  52. Lakers4life says:

    Sekou take off the the Timberwolves and replace them with the Trailblazers.

    • Spurs #1 says:

      Good order, trailblazers fans are stupid. Road to mediocrity here they come.. oh wait no they’ve been there for a while now.

  53. SPURS-TACULAR says:

    SPURS (added Marco Belinelli)

    OKC (We’ll see what strong moves they will make, if any)
    CLIPPERS (New coach)
    WARRIORS (Added Igoudala)
    ROCKETS (Added Dwight Howard)

    • Andrea Pineda says:

      Spurs will be a great team next year!
      The eastern teams have to do something to stop the Miami heat from going to the finals again! Literally.

  54. Hopper1 says:

    Grizz shoulda been #4 or #5 But thats ok because they have always been underrated and the underdog

  55. RealisticNBAfan says:

    Right now I’d say

    1. Thunder
    2. Spurs
    3. Clippers
    4. Warriors
    5. Rockets
    6. Grizzlies
    7. Blazers
    8. Lakers

    But it’s too soon to predict

  56. Unkle Daddy says:

    OKC needs more scoring punch in their starting line up now and off the bench. So, I say (and I know people will say terrible things once I’ve spoken) go find Adam Morrison, give him a one year deal at a veterans minimum, I think he’s in Serbia or Turkey (I mean you keep bringing back Fisher, why not take the chance).

  57. Drago says:

    Minesota is owed a break from injuries cause they undoubtedly have the talent for at least the second round of playoffs for a start.Dallas i probably going to land Buynam and maybe that pans out.The Lakers are not going to the playoffs even if all the rest from last years starters a healthy cause some moron thought you can win a title without a bench.There will be a loot of shakeups by new year.Those standings are going to look like nothing we see predicted here.

  58. isiah thomas says:

    Denver might even be out of the playoff picture and I suggest Memphis could drop to lower seeds. Coaches of those two teams made them succesful,they were the no1. reason of their success

  59. Joe says:

    ————PLAYOFS————-
    OKC
    SAS
    LAC
    GSW
    HOU
    MEM
    DEN
    MIN
    —LOTTERY——
    POR
    NOP
    SAC
    LAL (if kobes healthy above sac)
    DAL
    UTA
    PHX

  60. Maniac says:

    1) Spurs
    2) Rockets
    3) Thunder
    4) Clippers
    5) Warriors
    6) Grizzlies
    7) Bulls
    8) Jazz

  61. johnny aces says:

    ¸1.okc
    2.laclip
    3.gsw
    4.houston
    5.sas
    6.dallas
    7.memphis
    8.minesota

    or denver,portland or lakers could squeeze last spot perhapse…

  62. dontlistentothat says:

    Spurs – proved they can beat any team in the West this season
    Thunder – still a great team but Perkins and Ibaka are inconsistent and they need a consistant SG scorer
    Warriors – they lost JJ and Landry but got Iggy… They aren’t a better team
    Grizzlies – they can grind with any team, but Marc is soft and Zbo didn’t deliver in playoffs
    Rockets – just because they have great players doesn’t make them a great team, they’re very overrated
    Clippers – CP3 is the only hope for the clippers
    Pelicans/Timberwolves – Both solid teams but team chemistry will play a part in their success
    Lakers – There is no way Kobe Bryant (with help from the NBA Refs) will let the Lakers miss the playoffs

    • alp says:

      how did the spurs “prove they could beat any team in the west?” they didn’t even play OKC, which i believed would have mopped the floor with san antonio in 4, but an unfortunate event happened, next year it wont, thunder v heat nba finals, next year that is.

      • Iguaduala fan says:

        What do you mean OKC would have won against San Antonio in 4???? Did you see the Spurs play this year??? Bro you must be on something… didn’t OKC loose to the Grizzlies in 5 and San Antonio took out the Grizzlies in 4…. and if OKC does make it to the finals then they will get swept by Miami

  63. Dan says:

    Only people who think Portland is making the playoffs is Portland fans.

    • Dieter says:

      I was thinking that about Minnesota… Lillard is a better point guard than Rubio, Aldridge is a better PF than Love, Matthews should be better than Martin, Batum is better than Budinger… Minnesota only gets the upper hand at the center slot IF they resign Pekovic. Portlands’s bench improved a bit, Minnesota’s didn’t get better … both stars of the Wolves Rubio and Love are overrated. Without major injuries for other top teams in the West, I don’t believe the Wolves will reach the Playoffs… if Portland doesn’t improve their bench more, it’s gonna be difficult to get that 8th spot.

  64. CHRIS says:

    SAS
    OKC
    GSW
    LAC
    HOU
    DEN
    MEM
    LAL

  65. aurium44 says:

    So, does adding Marreese Speights, Toney Douglas, and Jermaine O’Neal to the end of your BENCH, move the needle at all for the Warriors?

    Depth now behind all that young talent. And the best fans in the NBA and the loudest home court advantage.

  66. Blazer/ChicagoFan says:

    1. OKC
    2. SAS
    3. HOU
    4. GSW
    5. LAC
    6. MEM
    7. DEN
    8. POR

    OKC will be OKC they did it this year without Harden and they will again. LAC will move up only if Blake Griffin improves which I doubt even with Doc. Portland v.s. OKC could be a nice matchup :) LA and Perkins do not like each other ;)

    • lmuguy222 says:

      You know Griffin has never had a full offseason, right? First one after draft, recovering from a knee injury. Next one, non existant due to the lockout. Latest one, shortened by a different knee injury suffered at Team USA camp.

  67. Unkle Daddy says:

    I’ve said a lot of things this off season, but the best advice I can give is, Manu needs to go Germany and let the freaky doctors that fixed Kobe’s knees, work on him, get that explosion back, we need him in top form leading our bench, but he should start, but have less minutes as a starter.

  68. Joel says:

    People always have the grizzlies low in the rankings, then when the season starts they’re a top 4 team easily. And the clippers are a team that’s all show. Once the playoffs come around they will not win. Blake griffin are deandre Jordan are the most overrated front court. They’re not big time players at all. I hope they meet the grizzlies again so they can get knocked out real quick.

  69. OKC > rest of west says:

    If you think any team in the west can beat a healthy OKC team then you are an idiot. OKC has 2 of the top 10 players in the league (KD & Westbrook) and then you have to score over Serje I-block-ya. I’m still waiting on Sam Presti to make moves to get rid of Perkins and add a couple roll players.

    • Tim Duncan! says:

      Kevin Martin left. A big reason why OKC was so good last year was because of their sixth man advantage. They don’t have that anymore.

    • lmuguy222 says:

      Lolol you think Serge Ibaka is a good defensive player… Hahahaha… He’s no Larry Sanders.

    • jerry7_3 says:

      Spoken like a true bandwagon jumping fan that doesn’t know how important James Harden was to the Thunder. Kevin Martin became more of a spot up shooter last year and that is not his game. Without Harden two years ago the Spurs win and face the Heat again. Think about it man, the Thunder need a guy off the bench that can come in and contribute. I don’t think anyone sees that.

      • thunderup says:

        Reggie Jackson anyone? And I’m not saying that because of the playoffs, I’m saying that because of how good he was all last season. Also, I know Adams is a work in progress, and knowing Brooks, unless Adams somehow gets him to fall in love with him (see: Derek Fisher) he won’t get anything but garbage minutes. However, seeing him set really solid screens to get Reggie good looks yesterday was a lovely sight for the future.

        Jeremy Lamb can also drain shots when he’s not asked to run an offense, which seems a bit much for him at the moment. And that’s more or less what Martin did last season. Spot up three balls. Add Collison back into the mix and there you go since OKC mostly runs a 9 man rotation.

        I’m sick of people talking about Harden. His absence was clearly not the issue, even though, yes, he is missed. Top seed in the West and on a roll at the end of the season. Only one thing was learned last season. Westbrook runs that team with Durant as his secret weapon. It’s not just Durant’s team. And as long as there’s another guy to drop like 15 points there’s no issue. Between Lamb and Reggie that’s more than enough, and BOTH those guys are coming off the bench with complimenting skill sets. Drive and kick all day.

        Oh, and Ibaka can’t disappear in big games. Especially with Butterfingers (Perkins) standing next to him.

      • alp says:

        lol this guy thunderup is saying reggie jackson….

        too bad he doesn’t know how to run the point, he can’t shoot either AND he’s undersized for a shooting guard. he just a really athletic scoring point guard but have a far better one in russell westbrook.. i DON’T want reggie jackson on the thunder because he makes bonehead plays just like javale mcgee… i’ve seen reggie jackson wave off kd calling for the ball in a late game situation… reggie THINKS he’s the guy but, NOPE. not by a long shot. i’d MUCH rather have eric maynor back and i strongly disliked his play also, but reggie jackson isn’t even a PG. I see jeremy lamb coming off the bench and doing work, (not like james harden though)

  70. Nick says:

    How can you say “Howard and Nash failed to move the needle…” without qualifying the statement? What a bunch of garbage! Maybe, just maybe, Nash couldn’t help “move the needle” much because he had a BROKEN LEG?!!

    • Da_Beaver says:

      The aging Lakers need to start playing like the senior citizens they are before somebody gets really hurt! #knowwhentoretire

  71. Pacers monkey pocket love says:

    Why oh why did you guys leave out the cincinnati bengals? They will make serious noise come playoff time I guarantee it. And guess what? What? Chicken butt! Hehee hey room I love it to be this way and the button is on the way out or in I don’t know why. Koop la doubolll ok???

  72. underdog says:

    1) Spurs – TITLE CONTENDER –
    2) Clippers – TITLE CONTENDER –
    3) Thunder
    4) Grizzlies
    5) Rockets
    6) Warriors
    7) Timberwolves
    8) Nuggets/Trailblazers/Lakers

    – Spurs still have Pop, an experienced core, and an improving young pieces (Green, Leonard, Splitter).

    – Clippers have Doc Rivers who will command respect, effort, and smart play.. most comments here don’t understand how much of a plus good coaching does.. look at how Spurs are competing, how the Twolves were competing last season (they were almost a playoff team if not for the injuries), how the Nuggets last year overcame their poor start, and the GSW believing and becoming a playoff team. Clippers also now have added legit 3 pt shooters to their core. They will be title contenders.

    – Im giving a huge favor here for the thunder placing them at 3.. losing Martin is a big blow already and they haven’t added anyone yet to replace his production.. I’m not sold in putting my trust on Lamb to be that guy.. without someone replacing Harden/Martin’s production and/or a legit post presense, I doubt the Thunder would be contending this season.

    – Grizzlies are still big up front.. but we all know that is really not big of an advantage against experienced coaching (see 2013 WCF) lack of consistent 3pt shooters will be a big blow..

    – Rockets will not be title contenders yet due to lack of chemistry.. but talent alone can slide them to this spot..

    – Everyone thinks the Warriors are better now that they have Iggy.. but I dont think that will be the case.. they lost Jack who was a very important piece to this Warriors team and they also lost Landry.. Iggy will also hinder Barnes’ development since Barnes will be seeing less playing time. GSW did not improve this season mind you.

    – Without injuries.. A starting five including Rubio, Martin, Love, and Pek is promising.. they have solid ‘others’ in Shved, Barea, Ridnour, and Derrick Williams.. promising prospects in Shabbazz and Dieng.. more importantly, they have a proven coach in Adelman..

    – Nuggets lost Karl and Iggy.. Gallinari is still rehabbing if I’m not mistaken.. and if they run the triangle.. that would be hard to learn in 1 season and if they don’t sign an iso-type player that can save the possession if the triangle scrambles (MJ, Kobe).. sign Ellis and the 8th spot will be theirs alone.

    – Trailblazers have a better bench now than last year so they might slide at 8.

    – Lakers are old and slow but they are still the Lakers. WIth a full training camp, less drama, low expectations, and some help from the officials.. they might slide right there at the 8..

    Mavs haven’t improved yet. Pelicans will be a slightly improved version of the Kings from last year. Kings will be Kings. Utah is rebuilding. Suns team is a mess.

    • Marco29 says:

      Mostly agree with you. I would maybe put Warriors in 4th ot 5th position but globally it looks fine. West is still packed at the top and even if a team improves, it needs one of the Top 8 to drop to take a spot. I believe Nuggets and Lakers are the most likely to drop and T-Wolwes and Blazers seem to be most capable of taking their spot(s).

    • alp says:

      i disagree with your statement. im NOT sayin jeremy lamb is a kevin martin, or a james harden, but he can be that spark off the bench like those two were for the thunder.. and if he is, i can see okc being a championship contender. i also think serge ibaka will step up BIG TIME this year. everybody on the team will. after the loss of westbrook i think alot of them realized how important to the team they were, specifically serge. he MIGHT have a 20 and 10 year this year.

  73. shaba says:

    1) Thunder
    2) Spurs
    3) Rockets
    4) Clippers
    5) Warriors
    6) Grizzlies
    7) Blazers
    8) Pelicans

    • Game Time says:

      The Rockets or Clippers finish in front of the Warriors only if Curry misses 15+ games, and the Pelicans aren’t making the playoffs.

  74. underdog says:

    No way the OKC gets there.. they don’t have a replacement for Harden/Martin yet and no post presense.. Spurs and the Clips will be better than them this season

  75. UHHHH says:

    Since when is Darrell Arthur on the Nuggets?

  76. Kimmy says:

    I don’t know for sure. But I have a feeling the Nuggets, Grizzlies, Lakers and Utah will fall from grace this upcoming season. I think the Timberwolves and Rockets will take 2 of these spots. Just sayin…

    OKC
    Spurs
    GSW
    Houston
    Clippers
    Timberwolves
    Grizzlies
    Nuggets

  77. Herr says:

    I’m sorry, I continue to fail how people continuously ignore Portland.

    Damian Lillard was BY FAR the best rookie last season and is already in peoples list for top 10 guards in the NBA. Now they have CJ McCollum who has almost as much potential as Damian. Add in Darrell Wright along with Mathews and Batum and you’ve got great scoring in the 1-3 spots. Then you have All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, an arguably top 5 PF in the NBA who said he’s NOT leaving Portland at the 4 position who now has Robin Lopez to help him. Aldridge only had old man Camby as his backup throughout basically his entire career. Now he has a legit center to support him. He also has backup with Thomas Robinson.

    Blazers also were fighting for a playoff spot deep into the season before deciding to tank to get a high draft pick. I think they have a much better shot at getting the 8th spot over the Lakers, Wolves, or Nuggets.

    • benjaln says:

      Because nobody is gonna play defense in that lineup. Lillard is an anemic defensive player, as is Matthews, Batum’s defense is hugely overrated, and Robin Lopez is an absolute scrub who had an average year on a bad team last year. McCollum isn’t going to be able to guard anyone either, Dorell Wright has had one decent season his entire career and continues to live off of that, and the rest of the bench is still pretty terrible. Who’s the backup to Matthews? How about Aldridge? Or Lopez? The Blazers did improve their bench, but not significantly. Both the Nuggets and the Wolves have much better chances of making to the playoffs based on their depth/star power.

    • Laphonzo Jealous says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Except for the Camby part because camby was only there for 2.5 years of Aldridges 7 year career, but that’s not really the point. The point is the blazers had the highest scoring starting 5 last season, albeit they played too many minutes but that was because the had the lowest scoring, most pathetic bench in the league. I watched probably 60+ blazer games last season and was impressed by the potential. They just needed better defense in the middle and EVERYTHING from the bench. But they made some really good, affordable moves in the offseason adding Lopez and T-Rob for cheap and had a great draft. I would be very surprised to see MIN, LAL, DAL play better than them through the whole season, and that’s coming from mainly a Laker fan. I guess all I’m saying don’t overlook this squad, Sekou (by the way your writing is getting worse and worse.)

    • drinsanity says:

      i agree. die hard blazer fan. i bet your team will not be able to make the playoffs

  78. Shawn K says:

    The Timberwolves will only make the playoffs IF they have a healthy roster. But with the history of injury on this team, I doubt everyone will be healthy.

  79. Brad says:

    shut up Sekou, here you are again.