The NBA season is rapidly approaching and with it comes fresh hope for fans of every team for different reasons. Perhaps this is the year your favorite team finishes their rebuild and starts winning games, perhaps they make a push for the playoffs, or perhaps this is the year they win it all.
For some fans, this hope is a lie, as this season will provide nothing more than another difficult basketball experience and the only hope they have is the NBA lottery system. In West, where every game is vital for playoff docking, the bottom teams usually can’t squeeze their way to a playoff spot but are smacked down. All that’s left for them is a chance to get their superstar in the lottery. Let’s see who’s going to be tanking and who’s going to be fighting for a playoff spot.
My prediction, from worst to best:
15th seed Memphis Grizzlies: If there’s a team that has every reason not to win games this year, it’s the Grizzlies. The team recently hired Taylor Jenkins and have a very young core to build around. Young teams don’t light the world on fire and this roster isn’t that deep. Now’s the time to stock up on picks, develop Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. as much as possible and build for the future. Which means it’s time for a bunch of losses and trading for bloated contracts for picks.
14th seed Sacramento Kings: I went back and forth on this but I stuck to my original feelings about this team, last year was a one year wonder. Hiring Luke Walton is an interesting choice to say the least, especially since David Joerger, the former head coach, led this team to their best record since 2005. The team doesn’t have that all-star player like the team ahead of them and their front office is pretty messy, meaning there’s going to be some tension. Long story short, there’s no reason to think they’ll build on last season unless Marvin Bagley III and De’Aaron Fox take massive steps forward, in which case, this team is jumping straight to the bottom of this list. Until they do that, they’re here.
13th seed Minnesota Timberwolves: The only reason the Timberwolves are ahead of the Kings is Karl Anthony Towns. Andrew Wiggins hasn’t grown that much since his sophomore season, the team isn’t that deep after those two and I don’t know what to think about their coach Ryan Saunders. This team has the making for a 35 win team that’s loss in the shuffle of a loaded West. At least KAT is locked in for the foreseeable future.
12th seed New Orleans Pelicans: I love everything the Pelicans did this season and I fully expect this team to be in the playoff mix in a year or two. Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson is an amazing core to build around and they got great vets to help mold them. If it wasn’t for the fact that this is their first season together and that Ingram is off a scary medical situation, they might have been higher up this list.
11th seed Phoenix Suns: Out of the last five teams, I’m the most optimistic about the Suns. I love most of the moves that the team made in the offseason and though I wasn’t the biggest fan of the draft, it felt like it was a move made with purpose and not on the fly. Ricky Rubio is a great addition to this team and Monty Williams is a good coach. With Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton leading the charge, there’s no reason this team can’t be a solid team in the west.
10th seed Oklahoma City: I had trouble figuring out where to put the Thunder. They have some talent but they also traded away Russell Westbrook and Paul George for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chris Paul and a bunch of picks. They’re definitely not good enough to make a playoff run but I don’t think this team would tank this year, not with the veterans on their roster, not with the culture they’ve built with this team. Unless Paul is traded, this is a team that’ll play hard every game and play to win and rebuild, not blow it up and lose.
9th seed Dallas Mavericks: Kristaps Porzingis is returning from an ACL tear, Luka Doncic was electric last season and the team is building around them to win now. They Doncic and Porzingis aren’t good enough to break through the western playoffs but they’ll make some noise and if enough chaos happens on top, they could sneak in. I think out of every team on this list, they’re the most likely to win 40-45 games.
With how the NBA goes, we could see this entire list in shambles by January. We have no idea who’s going to turn it up this season or who’ll regress. You could make the argument that any team from the Kings to the Mavs could win 40 games if everything goes their way. All we know is this will be one hell of a season.