Western Conference Playoff Predictions
1. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are the defending champions and have all their key players returning. Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Andre Iguoldala all re-signed with the Warriors. The Warriors also added Nick Young from free-agency. The Warriors still have the best offensive team in the league and can out shoot anyone any given night. I expect the Warriors to repeat as champions next season.
2. Houston Rockets
The Rockets have one of the best scorers in the league, James Harden. The Rockets also added Chris Paul in a trade with the Clippers. P.J. Tucker, a physical defender, also joined the Rockets. Paul and Harden will excel in this pick and roll offense with shooters like Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon playing along side them.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook is better without Kevin Durant and proved that last season averaging a triple-double. The reigning MVP got help this off-season from the trade with the Indiana Pacers. They acquired Paul George to team up with Westbrook. Enes Kanter was a viable six-man option last season until he punched a chair and broke a bone in his hand. The Thunder have a lot of athleticsism throughout their lineup.
4. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have the best coach in the NBA, Gregg Popovich. The Spurs have a great group of veterans in Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, and Manu Ginobili. We also can’t forget about Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. The Spurs find a way every year to be successful and make it into the playoffs. The Spurs were also able to bring in Rudy Gay during the offseason.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves will have no trouble scoring the ball this season with their addition, Jimmy Butler, who they acquired from the Bulls. During the offseason they were able to sign Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague, and Taj Gibson. The Timberwolves still have two young studs, Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins who are both scary athletic. The Timberwolves will have no trouble making the playoffs but the Western Conference is stacked.
6. Portland Trailblazers
Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are one of the best guard combo’s in the league. The Trail Blazers will get a lot of good play out of their big men Jusuf Nurkic and rookie Caleb Swanigan. The Trail Blazers are really athletic but they’ll need to tighten up on defense to ensure their spot in the playoffs.
7. Phoenix Suns
The Suns have a good young core to build around with Devin Booker, Marquese Chriss, and now Josh Jackson. Jackson is a threat in the post and outside the arc. He will have no problems adjusting to the NBA game.
8. New Orleans Pelicans
The reason for this pick at the 8 seed was the twin towers, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. They’ve now had a full offseason to try to acclimate themselves with one another’s game. They’re the two best big men in the league and will need to take advantage of this opportunity and win now.