The West is Wide Open

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The West is Wide Open

After half a decade of pretty much knowing who will represent the Western Conference in the Finals, for 2020 it will be wide open.

Even if the Warriors resign both KD and Klay, neither will play this year. How far can Steph and Dray possibly take them by themselves?

Houston is going to trade Chris Paul and Clint Capela, and the D'Antonio-Harden system does not appear capable of getting them to the Finals.

Denver was outstanding all year, but couldn't even win a Game 7 on their home floor, even with the altitude advantage. They're young and should mature, but are by no means a lock to get to the Finals.

Portland got to the WCF, but got waxed by Golden State without KD, and it feels like this was their peak, as currently constructed. They are by no means a favorite to get to the Finals in 2020.

The Lakers obviously just got much more interesting, but LeBron only played in 34 games last year, and AD, 56. Can they still healthy and complement these two greats? Perhaps, but they're certainly not a lock.

After losing to Portland in the first round, what can we expect from OKC, even if Paul George wasn't healthy in the playoffs?

The Clippers with Kawhi would look promising, but Kawhi getting them to the Finals after what he did last year would be one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of the sport. Possible, but not necessarily likely.

For the first time in years, it's hard to even venture a guess who we'll be watching next June!

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Posts like these ought to come when the season is about to begin and the smoke of free agency clears, not during speculation. Since I want to meet you halfway, here are some thoughts.

I may get negged (couldn't care less), I don't think GSW will make the playoffs. Maybe they'll come in striking distance but without KD and Klay? Questions surrounding Livingston's retirement? Iguodala retiring within the next two seasons? Is DMC returning? At full form? Too many ifs, they're dead in the water.

Portland has not reached their peak, as currently constructed. Enes Kanter played with essentially one arm, and Nurkic didn't play at all. I think Portland has more in the chamber, especially with the prospect of Leonard, Collins, and Simons all looking like breakout players for next season.

Lakers are a huge unknown since they haven't filled out the rest of their roster. They could certainly make the finals with a halfway decent free agency, though. If they sign players like Danny Green, Bullock, Ariza, Beverley, etc, they'll be right in the running. Not convinced they need another star per se. Kuzma, AD, and LeBron is a great core.

Denver will be great. Developing MPJ while continuing to grow their core will be awesome. So pleased with their front office and its beautiful work.

Clippers with Kawhi? I absolutely think they can dominate. I think they need a better 5, and perhaps they look at Vucevic to answer that call. Shamet and Shai will be incredible to watch and perhaps they don't have enough polish yet, but their ceiling could certainly have them in the finals.

Cheers to the floodgate to the finals being busted absolutely open. It's so inviting and incentivizing for the game and viewers like us. So excited and free agency hasn't even started :)

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You are crazy!!!! GS is

You are crazy!!!! GS is making the playoffs and Steph is going to win the MVP.

The West May be wide open but the west has never been better. Don’t sleep on the Kings, pelicans and mavs.

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A sneaky one is Dallas. If

A sneaky one is Dallas. If Porzingis is fit and at his best, he will be very hard to stop in tandem with Luka. Throw in a free agent and the right pieces and you never know. I'd really like Al Horford there to be honest.

My tip for the West is Denver. I have Porter Jnr as my ROTY favourite and another year together should have this team buzzing.

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I think Porter Jr. was

I think Porter Jr. was possibly the most talented from that draft. Between the slowly bringing him along because of his past injury, their roster already being filled out, and their pushing to be in the finals, I don’t see how someone with his experience gets loads of playing time. Otherwise, I might be with you.

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LeBron played 55 games last

LeBron played 55 games last year not 34.

Portland and Denver have a good amount of untapped potential.

The Jazz are sneaky good but need another scorer.

The Spurs should get better with a healthy Murray and development of young players.

Warriors are still a playoff team if Curry and Draymond stay healthy.

It will be interesting to see how it shakes out after free agency.

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Oops, I was looking at the

Oops, I was looking at the age column instead of the games column. Good catch.

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The Jazz now with Conley will

The Jazz now with Conley will be good if they replace Favors or keep him.

Kawhi to the Clippers is still the most likely scenario if he doesn’t stay in Toronto. I don’t really know what he will do but my guess is he signs a short max deal there or a 3 year deal with a 3rd year option or something like this.

Dallas could really be good if they can add someone like Middleton, Walker or even Harris or Randle. Hope they an make some noise cause I think the league is better if the Mavs are a playoff team.

Houston might implode during next season. Think they won’t look much different roster wise stinking next season but everyone is telling they want to save the repeated tax dollars and if the season doesn’t start very well, they might implode and trade half the roster.

Denver will only get better I think. MPJ might be a true talent but I don’t think he will ever be very reliable body wise, had already to much problems but a steady and solid start would be great for him.

Tough to say this but the odd team out of all of them is my Thunder I believe. They can’t really do anything with this payroll but have a lot of needs. They are even considering trading Adams who makes 25 millions per year (same as Giannis and Gobert btw) but totally failed to develop him into something bigger then a screener, bruised or the guy who has to make up for Russ‘ poor perimeter defense. Robes being back should help them tremendously on the D side but if/when Noel goes they don’t have anybody aside from Grant who can play PF or C aside from Adams (C). The contract to Russ and PG might be deserved but Adams contract cripples them extremely if they don’t find a way to make him a 18-20 ppg/ 11 rpg player. The only moves they can really make is trading Ferg, Diallo, Adams and/or Schröder, maybe Grant but that’s it and none of them will net them something valuable unless they flip Adams into DeRozan or something. But a move like create even more problems on both sides of the ball.

Unless Russ channels his inner self to become a All NBA Defensive player next summer and practices a few more outside (especially midrange shots which were his bread and butter for years) AND FOR SURE some free throws this team might have trouble earning a playoff spot. The Kings, Mavs, Clippers, Blazers, Jazz, T-Wolves all want to be there and there is very little room for mistakes and the 2nd half of last season after the All Star break was just flat out terrible.

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You're right, we have no idea

You're right, we have no idea until the draft/free agency shakes out but we're all fanatics who can't stop thinking about these things so we might as well give our uninformed opinions!

As of now I have Blazers and Rockets as co-favorites to win the West. Continuity may matter a lot, and Portland will bring back the same core, hopefully with improved shooting on the wings. Zach Collins is about to become a stud. As for the Rockets, a little more than a year ago they had the Warriors beaten. You could see it on their faces. Then CP3 went down. Rifts between superstars have been mended before, at least for a season.

I have no doubt the Warriors will make the playoffs, and if KD and/or Klay come back late in the season, they are dark horse contenders. Come on, they're the Warriors.

My other dark horse is the Spurs. People forget they took the Nuggets to the final minute of game 7. Their problem was that they were bad at defense. The return of DeJounte Murray and continued growth from White and Poeltl could make them at least solid defensively, and then they're a legit threat.

If the Lakers add another all-NBA type player they're a true contender. Right now it's just hard to know what to make of this three-man team.

If Kawhi goes to the Clippers they'll be really good, but without other additions I don't see them winning the West. Their future would be incredibly bright but do you really see a team with a SGA/Shamet starting backcourt winning the West?

The Nuggets will be really good but they're still so young. I think they're another year away from seriously contending.

Jazz and Thunder should be pretty good again, but as currently constructed have fatal flaws (Utah is probably a bottom-five team in terms of scoring talent, even with Conley. Thunder have three elite players, two good ones and absolutely nothing else).

A lot of other teams might improve but there was like a 10-game gap between the #8 Clippers and #9 Kings last year. No one has done anything yet to bridge that gap, although the Mavs with KP and the revamped Pelicans will be interesting. But I wouldn't be surprised if both teams still finish below .500.

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