Hopefully before reading this article and disagreeing with everything I say, you will have seen my other article where I predict the win/loss records for the Eastern Conference teams. The way I went about coming up with my predictions for that article and this one was by looking at a variety of factors.
Obviously, the main determinant is squad strength. If a team has a lot of good players on their roster, then odds are they will do well. The next thing I looked at is the compatibility of those players. If you have 2 great players on your team but their skillsets are likely to clash, then it’s unlikely that their team is going to do well. Only teams with good team chemistry will make it to the top and without it, even the strongest squads will struggle.
The last major thing I looked at was team morale; how incentivized did I think each team was. Even with a good squad and good team chemistry, if a team doesn’t have a clear goal in mind for the players and coaches to focus on then there’s no reason for them to play hard. Teams that have reached their potential and still can’t get over the hump may lack that killer edge and desire needed to win tough games.
So, without further ado here are my predictions for the win/loss records for the Western Conference.
15. Sacramento Kings - 24-58
Despite the likelihood of another dismal season record-wise, Sacramento fans should not despair too much. The whole DeMarcus Cousins scenario worked out well for the city; with DeMarcus and the climate that plagued the Kings, they were never going to get anywhere. The front office is a joke as shown by their instability and terrible draft choices.
Buddy Hield looks like he can be a decent scorer in the NBA and I have a very strong feeling that Willie Cauley-Stein can be a DeAndre Jordan type player. He’s so long and athletic that all he needs to focus on is blocking shots, grabbing rebounds and taking and making easy shots. His body type easily fits this new brand of center that I think is taking the NBA by storm.
14. Dallas Mavericks - 27-55
It’s sad that in all likelihood this is Dirk’s last season in the NBA. We will be saying goodbye to a legend of the game and he deserves one last swing at the Playoffs. Sadly, unless Dirk can somehow play like it’s 2007, the Mavericks are going to really struggle this year.
This will be a good opportunity to see what Harrison Barnes can do after his breakout season last year. The young forward has a killer mid-range shot and is proving that he isn’t just a role player like he was with Golden State.
13. Phoenix Suns - 31-51
The Suns do have a nice backcourt consisting of Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker which should help them a bit this year. Booker has proven he will rise to the very top when he scored 70 points against the Celtics at only 20 years old.
If Booker can up his 3-point shooting % to around 40% then he may be playing in the All-Star game this year and could very well propel the Suns to more than 31 wins. However, Tyson Chandler will be 35 by the end of the season and the Suns were only 27th in 3-point percentage last year, a number which I don’t see improving a lot this year.
12. Memphis Grizzlies - 39-43
Memphis fans have never had anything to really cheer about ever. They’ve made it to one Western Conference Finals in their entire existence and they’ve never been able to acquire the necessary talent to go the distance.
Marc Gasol is still very good but he’s aging fast. They need to trade him whilst his market value is still high, otherwise it will just be another slow but steady decline into mediocrity.
11. Los Angeles Lakers - 40-42
I’m sorry but what is ESPN smoking? They rated Lonzo Ball, a guy who hasn’t played a single minute of NBA basketball, above Carmelo Anthony, who is still one of the best scorers in the league.
Lonzo Ball sure looks like he can pass, but he shot terribly in the Summer League and if he can’t keep defenders honest with his scoring, then it will be very easy to cut off his passing; they just won’t guard him.
The Laker’s young stars are starting to develop, so they will be better than last year, but Lonzo won’t be able to take them to the Playoffs just yet. Sorry LaVar.
10. Utah Jazz - 40-42
Jazz fans must be fairly frustrated about their situation; they managed to win 51 games last year and had two budding young stars; Gordon Hayward carrying the offense and Rudy Gobert anchoring the defense.
Hayward departed for Boston, leaving a great big offensive hole in his wake. The Jazz will struggle to score this year unless their new point guard Ricky Rubio somehow manages to develop a decent scoring touch. Gobert is still the best defensive center in the NBA, so the Jazz won’t be too bad.
9. Los Angeles Clippers - 40-42
You don’t know what you had till it’s gone.
This applies heavily to the Clippers this year as the loss of Chris Paul will drastically stagnate their offense. CP3’s presence on the floor generates so much offense for whatever team he’s on. There’s a very good reason why Paul has the highest offensive rating of all time; his vision and passing ability make it so easy for his team to score.
No longer will Blake and DeAndre Jordan have a plethora of easy lobs, no longer will Austin Rivers be given shots on a plate. Things have changed and the Clippers are going to need to find someone fast to replace CP3.
They’ve lost the head of their offense, and when you lose the head, the body quickly follows.
8. New Orleans Pelicans - 41-41
A great scientific experiment is about to unleashed upon the league next season. The best center and the best power forward in the league are on the same squad, and they will have had a full training camp to figure things out.
Both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins were so good on their respective teams last year that the potential for these two together is off the charts. They could have every single opponent they face begging for mercy as they try to contain the forces of Davis and Cousins.
Then again, it could all go terribly wrong.
Cousins is known as a bit of a head case and often argues with the refs. If things start off rocky, then it could easily go south and Cousins could well be traded again at the All-Star break. They need a strong start and a good few wins under their belt to build their confidence which could even see these guys pushing 50 wins.
7. Portland Trail Blazers - 44-38
If my predictions are correct and Jusuf Nurkic is as good as he was at the end of last season, then the Blazers have a lot to look forward to this season. Their backcourt of Lillard and McCollum is pure class and it looks like they might have their third option they’ve needed for a while.
If Nurkic can average a double-double, somewhere around 15 points and 11 rebounds, then the Blazers will have a well-balanced offense which should start pushing them to the next level. Maybe Lillard doesn’t get another All-Star snub this year.
6. Denver Nuggets - 46-36
I LOVE NIKOLA JOKIC!!
Okay seriously, I’ve calmed down, but this guy is just such a beast that I had to shout that out. He's my favorite player to watch by far, mainly because of his offensive game. He’s already the best passing big in the NBA and the addition of a savvy veteran in Paul Millsap will only better Jokic’s game.
The Nuggets should be able to use their climate advantage to great effect on the fast break, and their half-court offense should be class as well, with Jokic finding every cutter heading to the rim.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder - 48-34
It's still a miracle how OKC acquired Paul George from Indiana for nothing more than Victor Oladipo and Donatas Sabonis. Paul George is a top ten player in the NBA who can create his own offense and lock down the opponent's best wing scorer.
Russ and PG will be devastating defensively as they use their extreme athleticism to hound their opponent into costly turnovers and we, the viewers, can then enjoy the fast breaks that will ensue.
Both players can run the offense meaning that the other will be able to get the much-needed rest for sustained success in the NBA, and when they are both on the floor, the rest of the league better watch out.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves - 50-32
I think that the Timberwolves won the offseason.
Not only did they manage to get Jimmy Butler from Chicago, but they also managed to get a point guard who is a threat to score on offense. Jeff Teague is a huge upgrade from Ricky Rubio, who barely shot 40% from the field last year.
Also, Karl-Anthony Towns is the youngest player in NBA history to average more than 25 points and 12 rebounds in a season. He will probably become the best big in the league within the next couple of years. He had a monster 2nd year and his 3rd should be even better.
3. Houston Rockets - 51-31
Although the Rockets added Chris Paul this offseason to go play with James Harden, I am not sure things will turn out as well as everyone thinks. Yes, both Harden and Paul are absolute studs and yes, they are both extremely intelligent, but my guess is that their styles will clash.
Both guards are extremely ball-dominant; they need the ball in their hands to be most effective. Since there is only one ball, when both players are on the floor, at least one of them won't be playing to their true capabilities. So far in their career, both players haven't had to work much off the ball since it was mainly in their hands.
It will be very interesting seeing how Mike D’Antoni changes his offense to accommodate CP3 and what James Harden’s reaction will be.
2. San Antonio Spurs - 60-22
Nowhere in the whole of sports will you find a coach more adept at his craft than Gregg Popovich. For me, he's easily the greatest coach ever without question and should be forced to never ever retire ‘for the sake of basketball’.
Kawhi Leonard will also be back with vengeance after missing the majority of the Western Conference Finals with his ankle injury *cough* Zaza *cough*. He proved last year that Kawhi can beat any team by himself, and he's my favorite for MVP this season.
1. Golden State Warriors - 70-12
I fear for everyone's safety when Golden State rolls into town. Kevin Durant has won his first ring, and now he will be playing without any of the pressure he felt last year, he can just be himself...and that is being the best scorer the league has ever seen.
Oh yeah, and the Warriors have Steph, the greatest shooter the world has ever seen, Klay Thompson, the best shooting-shooting guard in the NBA, and Draymond Green, who is the best defender in the NBA.
Every player on the Warriors will be playing even harder than next year, and with the talent already there, 70 wins is a real possibility.