2010-11 Western Conference standings

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2010-11 Western Conference standings

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?page=SummerForecast10-WestStand...

Updated: August 10, 2010, 12:58 PM ET

2010-11 Western Conference standings

By Royce Webb
ESPN.com

Once again, the West is best, according to our ESPN panel of 93 basketball experts, which expects the Western Conference to win about 53 percent of its games this season. (That's 633 wins versus only 597 for Eastern Conference teams.)

Once again, sitting triumphantly on the throne are the Los Angeles Lakers, the two-time defending NBA champs, going for the second three-peat of the Kobe Bryant-Phil Jackson era -- and a four-peat in the West. Worth noting: If the Lakers see the Heat in the NBA Finals, as many expect, the series will not start in L.A., according to our panel's crystal ball.

Where the West gets especially interesting is east (and north) of L.A., where teams such as Oklahoma City, Dallas, Denver, Portland, Utah, San Antonio and Houston are expected to battle it out for the right to be considered the Lakers' truest threat, while the Suns might be the odd men out.

So here we go with the West as we see it:

Predicted standings for Western Conference: 2010-11

CONF TEAM W L PCT 10 W 10 L 10 PCT
1 Los Angeles Lakers 58 24 .707 57 25 .695
The heavyweight champs have given us a True Hollywood Story of classic characters: the loner hero, the European intellectual, the wise old cap'n, the Queensbridge kid, the loopy lefty, the young star on the make, the eccentric owner and his family, and the Zen Master. Oh yeah, they're pretty good at basketball, too.

2 *Oklahoma City Thunder 52 30 .634 50 32 .610
Is this the same team that stood 1-16 just 20 months ago? Yes, and it's the same team that put a serious scare in the champs in Round 1. In what could be a wild Western scramble for second, our panel gives the Thunder 0.21 wins more than the Mavs, meaning a potential West finals bid for the Durant-Westbrook-Green team.

3 *Dallas Mavericks 52 30 .634 55 27 .671
We foresee an amazing 11th-straight 50-win season for the Mavericks, again on the shoulders of Dirk, J-Kidd and crew. And with the arrival of Tyson Chandler and the emergence of Roddy Beaubois (once he returns from a broken foot), Dallas will have some fresh blood. The Mavs may not have a ring, but they do have our respect.

4 *Denver Nuggets 49 33 .598 53 29 .646
The Nuggets hope coach George Karl can return after another bout with cancer, and Karl hopes the Nuggets can return to top contender status in the West. To do so, Carmelo & Co. need to curb their worst tendencies (namely: selfish play, emotional outbursts) and get back to the kind of teamwork preached by Karl.

5 *Portland Trail Blazers 49 33 .598 50 32 .610
Portland appears to be a postseason perennial despite front-office turmoil and myriad injuries. And now, with the West in transition (below the Lakers), this season looks like an open invitation for Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden to take the Blazers past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.

6 San Antonio Spurs 48 34 .585 50 32 .610
Tim Duncan was in college the last time the Spurs finished under .600, but that's what our panel forecasts for this fading power. What could reverse the subtle slide from 63 to 58 to 56 to 54 to 50 wins? A healthy season from Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, plus a splash by Tiago Splitter, the Brazilian banger imported from Europe.

7 Utah Jazz 47 35 .573 53 29 .646
Utah took some steps back with the departures of Carlos Boozer, Wes Matthews and Kyle Korver, and a step forward with the acquisition of Al Jefferson. How Jerry Sloan fits it all together -- and how the Jazz use the expiring contract of Andrei Kirilenko -- will tell us whether Deron Williams' crew is more contender or pretender.

8 Houston Rockets 45 37 .549 42 40 .512
How is Yao? That's the first question for Houston, which has built a strong supporting cast without knowing whether its 7-foot-6 superstar can return from foot surgery to carry the team. But if the big fella can go, the Rockets have the pieces in place, with the experienced Rick Adelman and savvy Daryl Morey for guidance.

9 Phoenix Suns 44 38 .537 54 28 .649
Phoenix rose spectacularly from the lottery to the West finals, and now it's back to the lottery for Steve Nash and the Suns, according to our panel. That's despite a 44-win forecast and despite our prediction that Suns expatriate Amare Stoudemire and his Knicks (with just 37 wins) will make the playoffs in the East. No, life ain't fair.

10 New Orleans Hornets 38 44 .463 37 45 .451
Chris Paul might renew his trade wishes after seeing our stinging Summer Forecast for the Hornets, which has them stuck at 38 wins, far from the playoffs. Of course, what CP3 and New Orleans need is a healthy CP3, after a knee injury cost him almost half of last season. In any case, his future is a looming issue.

11 Memphis Grizzlies 37 45 .451 40 42 .488
On Feb. 2, Memphis was 26-21, tied with OKC for eighth. But it was ultimately another lottery season for the Grizzlies, while the Thunder are the new darlings of the West. We remain lukewarm on the young Grizz, though another season of near-perfect health could clear the way for them to surprise us once again.

12 Los Angeles Clippers 35 47 .427 29 53 .354
Our panel is taking the déjà vu of L.A.'s other team: Last season we expected rookie Blake Griffin to carry the Clips to about a .400 winning percentage, and this season we expect rookie Blake Griffin to carry the Clips to about a .400 winning percentage. Let's hope his repaired knee and new coach Vinny Del Negro are up to the task.

13 Sacramento Kings 30 52 .366 25 57 .305
Reigning rookie of the year Tyreke Evans has gained a reputation as a hell-bent driver who's hard to slow down, and not just on the highway. This season, expect another sizable move for the Kings after last season's eight-game improvement, especially if Evans can form a reliable partnership with rookie DeMarcus Cousins.

14 Golden State Warriors 29 53 .354 26 56 .317
Warriors fans got their wish when Chris Cohan agreed to sell the team after 15 long years. Now comes the hard part for Golden State: Taking the raw materials on hand and making the team competitive in a tough conference. With Don Nelson's future and the roster in flux, our panel sees incremental steps, not a giant leap forward.

15 Minn. Timberwolves 20 62 .244 15 67 .183
The good news: Our committee of 93 says the Wolves will win 33 percent more games. The bad news: We think the Wolves will be the NBA's worst team. Even worse: Despite a roster with intriguing young talent, Wolves GM David Kahn has us utterly confused regarding how he plans to take Minnesota north in the standings.

* -- Teams tied in win totals ordered by decimal rankings from our experts' predictions.


llperez
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cant really argue with any of

cant really argue with any of that. You could move some of those teams around a little, but it's so close its hard to really say.

Mr.Knick 32
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I'm glad there not overrating

I'm glad there not overrating Houston.

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houston is gonna be more of a

houston is gonna be more of a playoff team then a regular season team. It will take a while for houston to get back to full steam as they work yao in assuming he is not 100% early.

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I can't argue with it either.

I can't argue with it either. The only thing I have to say is if the West only has three 50 win teams, it'd be the lowest amount of 50 win teams since 2005-06.

I see Portland winning 50 games. San Antonio and Denver should win 50 as well.

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the wins are gonna be

the wins are gonna be interesting becasue i think there are about 8-9 teams capable of 50 wins and a couple more like the grizz and hornets who could get 40 wins. But obviously someone has to lose games and these teams will probably all beat up on each other. I think the west will beat the east handidly in overall matchups. ANd teams like sacramento and the clippers despite improving their roster will struggle just off how much competition there is.

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I like OKC but i dont see

I like OKC but i dont see them as the 2nd best team in the West..Last season they surprised alot of teams..But after they way they played the Lakers in the playoffs teams know whut to expect from them...They'll be in the top 5 in the West but not number 2...

The Grizzlies might win 50 games this season..Last year they could've won 50 games..I think they lead the NBA in blowing 3rd quarter leads going into the 4th quarter..Teams played zone on them becuz they didnt have any reliable outside shooters..They didnt have a good bench..They played poor team defense in the 4th quarters last season..But coach Hollins will have them really to play ball....

New Orleans should trade CP3 he's not happy there..And you should'nt have franchise player who's your playmaker unhappy..lol

Look for The Kings & Warriors to start off slow..But i think after the Allstar break..They're going to be 2 teams in the West to watch....

Its going to be interesting to see how the young Rockets react, when they're up-tempo offense has to be slowed down to make Yao the focus of the offense.....

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If Yao is back to his 20

If Yao is back to his 20 Point, 10 Rebound, Command A Double Team Self. Houston has to be in the Top 5

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I dont see OKC being that

I dont see OKC being that high. Or Utah being that low.

Jlv2012
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Kings 4 life

Kings will win more than 30 games. they won 25 last season. I say 35 wins.

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I don't see Minnesota winning

I don't see Minnesota winning 20 games...Thats a 33% improvement over last year, and while that only means 5 more wins I don't see it happening. The worst teams in the West all got better with Sac addressing it's major weakness and the Warriors getting Lee. The Clips basically got two lottery picks with Blake a number 1 overall pick, coming back. Wes Johnson is going to have to shock some people for Minny to win that many games. I know he was a 4th pick but it seems like the Wolves just took him because the mock drafts said to. No scouting report seemed that high on him. I know there are a lot of Darko lovers, and I admit he showed promise last year, but he is the STARTING C. 20 wins would be a blessing.

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Portland

Eh, I may be an incredibly biased fan, but um, fifth? I think that that is quite logical, but, with the myriad of injuries, the Trail Blazers finished 6TH. Okay, maybe not huge, but when you actually dissect it, yeah its kind of like a big deal. W/ injuries to Batum, Roy, Oden, Pryz, McMillan so on so forth and yet in this conference, they are capable of topping teams like all above them when healthy. The Lakers are indeed a stretch, but Portland is quite productive against them. I'd say they are the second top team in the Western Conference.

Mr.Knick 32
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Portland won tiebreakers to

Portland won tiebreakers to become 6th. Portland, San Antonio and OKC I believe all had similar records.

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I don't see OKC as a second

I don't see OKC as a second seed. Surely they will be in the top 5 but I don't see them as the second best in the west. I would switch Memphis and New Orleans and Sacramento with LAC.

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If healthy, as a laker fan,

If healthy, as a laker fan, portalnd scares me more then any other team in the west.

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IMO

Denver is better than Dallas and OKC they have a lot of players in contract years, Carmelo, JR, Billups( Team Option), Martin and Afflalo so they will go hard maybe one last time together they will be the 2 seed

OKC 3 seed
SA goes 4
Dallas 5
Portland 6
Utah 7
Memphis 8

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Interesting list, here's my

Interesting list, here's my predictions.

1) Lakers
Will probably rest Kobe and Bynum some games but still are the class of the West and the favorite to be the 1st seed as long as no one gets hurt. The additions of Matt Barnes and Steve Blake should help out a weak bench which could really only count on Odom.

2) Mavs
I can see right around there maybe they win a few more regular season games if Beabious does well. Unfortunately it won't get them in the Finals they still don't have a quality big man who can score in the post. Its the same story with them every year just diff. players. Having Haywood, Chandler, Butler for the entire season will help definately they could challenge for the top seed.

3) Blazers
Have to improve if only that no team can have as many injuries as they did last year. Now they have insurance for Oden with Camby and if healthy no one has as much young talent as they do. Only negative was moving Martell Webster guess they think Batum is a star I don't see it at least not yet. After moving Blake, Webster they lost some depth some 3 pt shooters and moving Rudy Fernandez would be a mistake. Could challenge for the 2nd seed but need the offense to click and stay healthy of course.

4) Rockets.
This is one team I definately think improves. Not just because Yao Ming returns but they wisely signed Brad Miller as a backup and for insurance. Kevin Martin if healthy will be around the entire season compared to just 24 games last year. With Yao, Martin and Brooks handling the scoring load Ariza won't have to be much of a scoring option. He'll focus on defense along with Jeffies and Battier they are pretty solid on D. Could finish anywhere form 2-5 if things break right health wise and young players Brooks, Lowry, Hill and Buddinger continue to improve.

5) Thunder
I don't see as the 2nd seed not just yet unless the young player blow up. Presti decided not to over pay any free agents and continues to build via the draft and trades. Green, Kristic, llbaka, Aldirch, Mullens, Collison will need to step it up against the West Conf. big men.

6) Nuggets
They don't play enough defense and aren't smart enough to be a dominant team. Lawson will be better and Harrington will help as they sorely need a big man who can score esp. off the bench. Still they don't play enough defense and you can't outscore teams all the time. Nuggets are a regular season team but look for them to get knocked out in the 1st round.

7) Spurs
Will this be the year the Spurs with Duncan actually win less than 50 games. Duncan is getting up there in age and so are Ginobli, McDyess and RJ. Not sure why they signed RJ to a long term deal, its a cap killer and he obviously didn't work last year. Outside of Tiaggo Splitter there were no key additions to the team. Duncan should get more back to back nights off and unless Tiaggo is ready to be a big time player they won't be better. Once again they'll be the team no one wants to face in the 1st round.

8) Jazz
Al Jefferson takes away much of the sting from losing Boozer. Can't blame the Jazz for not resigning Boozer they couldn't make the Finals w/him. The expectations should be a lot less now, should be an interesting season. If Kirilenko and Okur are healthy and produce they could move up as high in the standings.

9) Suns
Phoenix they will still run but not sure I understand trading for Hedo and signing Warrick over resigning Amare. If they are going in a different direction with youth I could understand but not when Nash and Hill are still on the team.

10) Grizzlies
They resigned Rudy Gay to a max contract he might not be worth. They have quality bigs in Randolph and Gasol but lack a true PG. Will be tough to make the playoffs in the West but they should compete every night.

11) Clippers
The other L.A. team had a decent offseason despite not signing a big name free agent. They should be much improved if Blake Griffin is healthy and plays up to some his lofty expectations. Plenty of young talent with Gordon, Al-Aminu, Griffin, Jordan, on the team Gomes, Butler, Willie Warren were nice pick ups. Team will improve maybe break 40 wins if Baron Davis produces and they are healthy for a change.

12) Hornets
I see them winning no more than 40 games, they really should trade Paul as long as they can move Okafor or Posey with him. They do have some up and coming guys in Collison, Wright, Thorton. Should be the last year they are quiet with 20 plus million coming off the books with Peja and Songalia. Can Collison and Paul play together or did the Horents peak a few yrs ago?

13) Kings
A lot of young players in Tyreke, Cousins, Greene, Casspi, Landry, they do have some nice depth at Pf and C. However, they don't have an quality Pg or a legit #2 scorer on the team and didn't address the issue in free agency.

14) Warriors
Looks like another year for the Warriors in the bottom of the West Conf. The addition of David Lee will help but he has no help behind him in the front court outside of Biedrisn. Gone from last year are Corey Maggette, Azubuike, Anthony Randolph, Antony Morrow, Ronny Turiaf, C.J. Waton, Acie Law, Antony Morrow. They have been replaced by David Lee, Dan Gadzuric, Charlie Bell, Dorrell Wright, Jannergo Pargo and Ekpe Udoh. The team will improve last year they had too many injuries with Raja Bell, Azubuike, Law, Biedrins and basically trading Steve Jax for nothing. Trading Corey Maggette was def. the right move. Also moving the abundance of Pg's was smart but not sure why they overpaid for Dorell Wright.

15) Timberwolves
Easily the worst team in the league, GM Kahn once again made some puzzling moves in the offseason. 1st he gave Darko 3 yr 14.5 million deal after he had a decent 25 game stretch but he seemed to headed back to Europe and Kahn was bidding agaist himself. Also he traded Al Jefferson but only got back Kousta Koufas and 2 picks which remain to be seen how good they turn out. They have at least 3 Pg's currently with Flynn, Ridnour, Telfair and Ricky Rubio overseas but none are top 15 in the league even. The good news was they added Martell Webster and Michael Beasley two very much needed scorers to an anemic offensive team. Still they don't have a real post presence on offense or defense which really hurts a young team.

NYK2010
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wow I made a lot of spelling

wow I made a lot of spelling and grammar mistakes in that post.

llperez
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NYK2010, i agree with that

NYK2010, i agree with that almost completely. I would switch clippers/ hornets and jazz/ suns, but otherwise i see it the same way.

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I have a different opinion on

I have a different opinion on the Spurs. I think they'll win 50 games.

I also consider James Anderson a key addittion. I like Alonzo Gee as well. He gives them young athleticism on the wing. George Hill will be even better this season.

With Splitter, Hill, Blair and Anderson... I don't think the strain on Duncan, Parker and Ginobli will be too signifcant.

I think 4th is too high for the Rockets with Yao's injury being so serious. I can't see him playing 82 games or significant minutes.

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