Posted by: Jeremy | October 26, 2009

Checking in on the Western Conference


Yesterday I posted my Eastern Conference preview, and here’s how I see the West shaping up in 2009-10:

The Lakers are gambling that Ron-Ron can pull himself together

The Lakers are gambling that Ron-Ron can pull himself together

1. LA Lakers (64-18): Can’t go wrong with the defending champs. Out is Trevor Ariza, but in is four-time NBA All-Defensive Team member Ron Artest, who the Lakers are hoping can make it through a season without losing his mind. I’m guessing Kobe smacks him if he gets even a little out of line and the Lakers repeat as champions.

2. Denver (56-26): I knew Chauncey Billups was a good player in Detroit, but he made it clear just how great of a leader he is after coming over in the Iverson trade and turning Denver into a top-five team in the league. Credit to Carmelo Anthony for rounding into a better team player and a ball(s)y comeback season from Nene. I don’t see the Nuggets taking a step back in 2010.

3. San Antonio (54-28): Here’s a sign I’m getting old — I actually like the Spurs. Not so much because of Tim Duncan, but more because Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are great to watch. Throw Richard Jefferson into the mix this season and the Spurs are back in the top half of the West.

4. Portland (52-30): That Greg Oden really turned the Blazers into a title contender quickly, huh? Well, actually he didn’t. In Portland, it’s all Brandon Roy. The Blazers were spurned by Hedo Turkoglu this summer and ended up with point guard Andre Miller, who head coach Nate McMillan is strangely considering using off the bench this season. Still, expect the Blazers to be a legitimate threat again.

5. New Orleans (52-30): CP3 & co. took a bit of a step back last season, but that had more to do with teams like Denver and Portland stepping up than the Hornets taking a step back. Paul and David West give New Orleans one of the NBA’s top one-two punches, plus Peja Stojakovic can still spread the D and drop three-point bombs, even if he does little else. Emeka Okafor is in for Tyson Chandler, who missed a lot of time last season, though Okafor himself is recovering from a toe injury and didn’t suit up at all in the preseason.

6. Dallas (51-31): The Mavs are still good, but again not good enough to hang with the big boys in the West. They did, however, add Shawn Marion, who will benefit from the up-tempo offense, though likely not to the 20-10 tune he did in Phoenix.

Deron Williams is hoping Carlos Boozer doesn't cramp his style this season

Deron Williams is hoping Carlos Boozer doesn't cramp his style this season

7. Utah (46-36): I’m guessing it’s going to be an awkward year in Jazzland. Utah re-signed Paul Millsap to a four-year, $32 million contract to take Carlos Boozer’s spot at power forward, then failed to unload an unhappy Boozer, who’s in the last year of his contract, over the summer. Still, with Deron Williams, Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirilenko all still in the mix, the Jazz have a shot at winning 50 games.

8. Phoenix (43-39): The Shaq experiment having failed, the Suns are going back to the Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire show, which didn’t work the first time. Phoenix will be entertaining, but with age catching up to them and another short bench, they’re a fringe playoff team at best.

9. LA Clippers (35-47): Look at this! For once the Clippers shouldn’t be absolutely horrible — instead, this season they should only be slightly bad. First overall pick Blake Griffin joins last year’s lottery man Eric Gordon to give the Clippers a good young core — one that hopefully won’t be dragged down too much by point guard Baron Davis, who had a hellish first year in Los Angeles. Should be an interesting team to watch, and one that could push for a playoff spot in 2011.

10. Oklahoma City (34-48): Another team with an awesome young core. Kevin Durant has already proven he can score in this league, but can he take his team to the next level? He’s joined by two future stars — Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook — and a Rookie of the Year candidate in third overall pick James Harden. Expect the Thunder to take a step forward this season and be a playoff team in the near future.

11. Houston (32-50): The Rockets have been banged up for years and still manage to win at least 50 games every season. With Yao Ming gone for the year and Tracy McGrady his usual indefinite self, I don’t see that trend continuing. Houston added Trevor Ariza, who was big as a sixth man for the Lakers last season, and he’ll be given the reigns to do pretty much whatever he wants this year. Unfortunately, that still won’t translate into many wins.

12. Golden State (31-51): The good news is they dumped Jamal Crawford. The bad news is they still have way too many shot-happy guards, including one that isn’t happy about too much else these days. The Warriors are going to run-and-gun this season, but like their contemporaries in Phoenix, aren’t going to win too many games.

O.J. Mayo loses out big on the Grizzlies' additions of Iverson and Randolph

O.J. Mayo loses out big on the Grizzlies' additions of Iverson and Randolph

13. Memphis (24-58): What is this team thinking? The Grizzlies have a pair of up-and-comers in Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo, so they go and bring in reputed team killers Allen Iverson and Zachary Randolph? Blows my mind. For one, Iverson and Randolph don’t win games, and they’re almost certain to stunt the development of Gay and Mayo. This franchise is an absolute mess. By the way, what ever came of Javaris Crittenton, who they picked up in that brutal Pau Gasol trade a couple years ago?

14. Minnesota (23-59): The T-Wolves have a couple strong big men in Al Jefferson and Kevin Love, but not much else outside rookie point guard Johnny Flynn. Minnesota would be in better shape had they not dealt Mike Miller and Randy Foye to Washington this summer for the fifth overall pick in the draft, which they wasted on Ricky Rubio, who I’m betting never suits up for them.

15. Sacramento (16-66): Yikes. Kevin Martin is going to hoist tons of shots and the Kings are going to lose tons of games. Youngsters Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson and rookie Tyreke Evans will all get a shot, which should help their development but not produce much in the way of results, at least not for awhile.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. […] my Eastern and Western Conference forecasts, click here and here. Game […]

  2. […] gotta figure this one won’t be a walk in the park. I’m starting to think the Mavs are a better team than I gave them credit for in my season preview, and they’ll be even more of a force when Josh Howard and Drew Gooden hit the court in the […]

  3. […] I’ve gotta figure this one won’t be a walk in the park. I’m starting to think the Mavs are a better team than I gave them credit for in my season preview, and they’ll be even more of a force when Josh Howard and Drew Gooden hit the court in the near […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: