Tag Archives: NBA Western Conference

Which NBA teams will be the top powerhouses in the West next season?

Western Conference


One thing is certain. The NBA will not be the same any more. The 2014 – 2015 season will be different than the previous one. The balances in the NBA have now changed. The dynasty of the Miami Heat is over, with LeBron moving to Cleveland. We’ve already seen many more changes during the first three weeks of the free agency. And some more are about to come. Let’s have a look at the Western Conference and try to predict which teams will be at the top next season.

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clips haven’t performed any radical changes up to now in the offseason but why should they after all? Lob City is already a powerful team, and it needed just a few tweaks to make it to the next level. The Clips will enter the 2014 – 2015 campaign as one of the top contenders in the NBA and they will be one of the elite teams in the West, too. The addition of Spencer Hawes is a significant one. If there was one point, the Clippers bled last season that was the backup of their front line. Doc Rivers will now continue his work and try to lead the Clips to the top.

San Antonio Spurs

Despite their age, the San Antonio Spurs will be one of the top teams in the West for yet another season, in 2014 – 2015. With Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili back, the Spurs will continue to be one of the strongest powerhouses in the entire NBA, and they are projected to enter the upcoming season as one of the top favourites for the NBA Championship, once again.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook didn’t manage to lift the OKC Thunder over the Spurs during the 2014 Western Conference Finals. Now, they will get one more chance. The Thunder will continue their efforts next season with almost the same formation they closed the 2013 – 2014 campaign. Will this be the season the Thunder manage to make it to the top?

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors recorded a breakaway season in 2013 – 2014. They established themselves as one of the top teams in the West, and they even made their presence felt during the postseason. Now, with a new head coach, Steve Kerr and with all the necessary changes in their roster done, the Dubs are looking to compete for the NBA Championship in 2014 – 2015 seriously. Their efforts to land Kevin Love have been unsuccessful up to now. Nevertheless, even if the Warriors move on with their current formation, they will be one of the powerhouses in the tough Western Conference.

Portland Trail Blazers

If the core of the Blazers is healthy next season, Rip City will go deep into championship contention. The Blazers already added Chris Kaman, who will back up Robin Lopez. CJ McCollum will also be back healthy, and the Blazers may add one or two more players during the summer. Rip City will be one of the top teams in the West.

Who Should The Lakers Draft?

Lakers Tickets for all games


The NBA held their annual draft lottery Tuesday night prior to the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers Eastern Conference Finals game. In another bit of incredible luck the Cleveland Cavaliers won the top overall pick, giving them the option to pick between Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid. The Los Angeles Lakers, coming off one of the worst regular seasons in franchise history, will have the seventh pick in the upcoming draft. The Lakers had a 20% chance of getting the top overall pick, but that didn’t happen and now they’ll have to settle for a mid-lottery pick. The good thing about the 2014 draft is that it’s not an ordinary draft, with a deep pool of talent to pick from. Here’s a look at a few players that may be available when the Lakers pick seventh.

Aaron Gordon


Aaron Gordon: The former Arizona Wildcat star has been speculated by many as a potential option for the Lakers. Although he possesses a raw offensive game, Gordon is an absolute physical freak, with a high basketball IQ and a polished defensive game. Gordon was one of the top individual defenders in college basketball this past season, with the lateral quickness to defend out on the court and the leaping ability and size to guard people in the post. He’s a strong rebounder and shot blocker. Gordon is limited offensively but is one of the rare types of players who can be a major factor in a game on defensive play and rebounding alone. Due to his leaping ability many like to compare Gordon to Blake Griffin, but at this point, Gordon’s offensive game has a long way to go to compete with the LA Clippers superstar. During the recent draft combine Gordon led all prospects in the “shuttle run” drill that tests quickness and the ability to change direction. Gordon was the only non-guard to finish in the top ten. Gordon had the top big man vertical leap at the combine, at 39 inches, indicative of his off-the-charts athleticism. Gordon’s vertical leap was the third highest ever for a player his size. Adding to Gordon’s value is the fact he measured at 6’9” in shoes, with a 6’11” wingspan. According to ESPN NBA draft expert Chad Ford, Gordon impressed teams in the interview process. One potential major barrier to drafting Gordon is the rumour that the Celtics, drafting 6th, are enamoured with Gordon’s potential.

Noah Vonleh


Noah Vonleh: The former Indiana forward is one of the drafts highest risers. Vonleh had excellent athletic numbers at the combine, with a 37” vertical leap, as well as incredible measurements that include a 7 foot 4 ½” wingspan and the largest hands in the draft. Vonleh has a solid offensive game for a young player with the potential to be a difference maker offensively much faster than Gordon. Vonleh had a solid freshman year but was lost in the shuffle on an under-achieving Indiana team. He didn’t receive nearly as much attention as some of the more excited players in the draft, like Julius Randle of Kentucky. Depending on how the draft unfolds the Lakers may have an opportunity to draft Vonleh, giving them a talented young power forward. The other big question is whether or not the chance to sign or trade for Kevin Love will dictate who they take in the draft. Minnesota ended up with the 13th pick in the draft, a bit too late to select an impact player. The Timberwolves could be potentially interested in moving love to a team like the Lakers if they can get a player like Vonleh, Gordon or Julius Randle back to replace Love.

Julius Randle


Julius Randle: The much ballyhooed Kentucky forward had a solid freshman year, but has fallen a bit in the draft projections behind Wiggins, Parker and Embiid. Randle has good size and an NBA ready frame. He had strong athletic numbers at the combine, albeit slightly below that of Gordon and Vonleh. Randle has a much more refined offensive game compared to Gordon but is not nearly the defender of the former Arizona star. If the Lakers are looking for a go-to power forward that can score in the paint, Randle is their guy. Vonleh probably has more upside due to his ability to shoot from the perimeter and room to grow as a player. Like Vonleh and Gordon, Randle would be an interesting piece to move in a trade to the Timberwolves for Kevin Love, giving Minnesota an instant replacement for their superstar.

Marcus Smart


Marcus Smart: Smart is an interesting player. If he had come out a year ago, he was a definite high lottery pick. Smart came back and had an up and down season including a high profile dispute with a fan that got home suspended this past season. Smart tested extremely well at the combine athletically, with a huge wingspan, great quickness and a big vertical leap. Smart is an unquestioned talent, but he may not be ready to be an instant contributor. Many teams question his maturity, due to his on the court issues.

Zach LaVine


Zach LaVine: The former UCLA guard is one of the big wild cards in the draft. LaVine is a high riser who was a late bloomer in high school before coming to UCLA and putting together impressive stretches during his freshman season. His athletic ability is off the charts, almost Russell Westbrook-like. According to multiple draft experts, LaVine looked extremely capable in the Chicago draft combine, handling the ball well and shoot extremely well in drills. From a sheer upside potential, LaVine is a potential superstar, albeit extremely raw. Seventh may be a bit early to select the former UCLA Bruins guard, but he may be worth the gamble.

The seventh pick in the draft isn’t typically seen as an impact spot, but this June’s draft is unique. Whether the Lakers are looking for an instant asset or a player who can be used as trade bait they’ll have several attractive options, with multiple players who can contribute immediately.

Rip City Is For Real

Damian Lillard Blazers

Damian Lillard

The 2013-2014 season has been a roller coaster ride for Rip City. After reaching the top of the tough Western Conference early in the season, the Portland Trail Blazers fell to the fifth spot and they also saw their chances to make it to the top reducing. The Blazers entered the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs as the underdogs in their matchups against the Houston Rockets but they managed to eliminate them after six games. Now, they are being dominated by the veteran group of the San Antonio Spurs and their playoff trip might soon reach its end.

However, despite the failure to top the San Antonio Spurs, a task that is of course very difficult for any team around the league, the Blazers’ course during the 2013-2014 campaign is anything but bad. In fact, even if Rip City exits the playoffs in the second round, the entire city should feel proud about this team. After everything, the Blazers have gone through and after all those top-player severe injuries, Portland has found a way to turn things around.

In addition, the future looks really bright for this team, given that it has now found the Big Three around which it can build. Damian Lillard showcased his leadership skills not just during the playoffs but even throughout the regular season. The versatile point guard has already reached a superstar level and he is just 23 years old. He and LaMarcus Aldridge are under contract for the next season, with the Blazers holding a team option, which will most probably exercise for the season after and also a qualifying offer for the 2015 – 2016 season. Nicolas Batum is also under contract till the end of the 2015 – 2016 season but what is even more important is the fact that something seems to be changing in Rip City.

The Blazers are finally starting to find their way to success and whilst they still haven’t formed an elite team, they are certainly on the right track. Portland has found its new franchise face, in Damian Lillard and also a truly capable star veteran, in LaMarcus Aldridge, who might just be the perfect fit alongside Lillard. Nicolas Batum is the third wheel of the Blazers’ engine and several analysts compare them to the San Antonio Spurs, stating that the Blazers are a younger version of San Antonio. I couldn’t agree more with this statement and I would go a step further, stating that Damian Lillard will soon have the same essence to Rip City like Kobe Bryant has to the Los Angeles Lakers. Yes, he is that good.

So, summing up, there is absolutely no reason for Blazers fans to feel disappointed with their favorite team this year. The Blazers did what they had to do. They went as far as they could. Now, the fun part begins, as the team will try to further improve during the postseason. We should all expect the Blazers to stay in the forefront of the NBA for the next seasons.

Western Conference Contenders and Pretenders

Western Conference

Western Conference

Two weeks into the 2013-2014 NBA season the Western Conference is taking shape. The usual contenders, San Antonio and Oklahoma City are at the top, but with Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers struggling there’s an opportunity for some new contenders to make a playoff run. Here’s a look at the elite, contenders and pretenders of the early NBA season.

The West Elite: (San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors)

The veteran San Antonio Spurs picked up where they left off and are off to a fast start to begin the season. They’re well coached, experienced and deep and should contend for the top record in the NBA all season. If Tim Duncan and Tony Parker can stay healthy, the Spurs are the favourites for a return trip to the finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder welcomed back Russell Westbrook early, and their star point guard seems to be the same explosive player he was before his meniscus tear. The Thunder is 5-1 on the season with their lone loss versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. The presence of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook guarantees 55 to 60 wins—how that translates into the postseason is the big question. The Thunder still misses that extra scorer that James Harden once provided. The Los Angeles Clippers are still adjusting to the coaching style of Doc Rivers, but have a deep lineup and bench and an elite point guard in Chris Paul.

The Next in Line: (Minnesota, Memphis, Dallas, Houston)

The Minnesota Timberwolves are finally healthy and displaying the potential that many predicted when Ricky Rubio arrived in the United States. In Rubio, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic the Wolves have one of the best trios in basketball and an elite Head Coach in Rick Adelman. The Wolves acquisition of Kevin Martin, who thrived under Adelman in Sacramento, has given the club the strong perimeter shooting two guards they missed. Look for the Wolves to challenge the 50 win mark and reach the playoffs for the first time under Love. Memphis switched Head Coaches, with Dave Joerger taking over for Lionel Hollins. They’ve struggled initially in the transition but still feature the same big and physical lineup that’s worked for them the past three seasons. Marc Gasol is one of the league’s best centers, and he forms perhaps the best center/power forward combination in basketball with Zach Randolph. The Dallas Mavericks, who missed the playoffs last season, have rebuilt to make another run. The newly minted backcourt of Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon is working so far, giving Dirk Nowitzki the guard play he hasn’t had since the Mavs title run. The key for Dallas, like San Antonio, is the health of their veteran players. Over in Houston the Rockets have the potential to be in the elite group but have struggled defensively so far this season. Dwight Howard is showing many of the same inconsistencies he displayed in Los Angeles last season, and he’s not yet providing the interior defensive presence the Rockets desperately need. Houston can score points on anybody; the big question is whether or not they can defend like an NBA title contender. Right now the jury is still out.

On the Upswing: (Portland)

The Blazers are off to a fast start (5-2), although only one victory is over a legit playoff contender (San Antonio). That being said the Blazers look to be a club that can occupy the playoff position(s) that the Lakers and Denver may be vacating. LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the premier power forwards in the game, while Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum are consistently improving their game. The Blazers have been efficient, reducing turnovers, and are second in the conference in field goal attempts per game. Their +4.0 scoring margin is good for 5th in the conference.

Bubble Teams: (Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans)

Putting the Lakers in the bubble team category may be a stretch. Their success hinges on how close to .500 they are when Kobe Bryant returns. Los Angeles has improved their overall depth and the youth of their roster, but still lacks the quality depth of most NBA playoff contenders. It’s questionable whether or not Steve Nash has anything left in the tank as he battles persistent injuries. If Nash can’t provide the minutes, the Lakers need they may plummet down the standings. The Pelicans are an exciting club. They’ve had some good victories this season as well as some bad performances. They’ve injected some talent into their roster, but it’s still not clear how the backcourt trio of Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holliday will co-exist due to their high ball usage rate. Inside though the Pelicans have the emerging Anthony Davis who’s quickly becoming the superstar many predicted. Davis alone could be the difference maker that vaults the Pelicans into playoff contention.

The Pretenders: (Sacramento, Denver)

The Sacramento Kings have a talented roster that once again looks like a bunch of spare parts. DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most skilled big men in the game, putting together a solid season. His checkered past though makes it hard to rely on him day in and day out. Ben McLemore has excellent potential, but he’s young and finding his place in the NBA. The Kings have nice depth inside and some solid role players, but due to the consistent roster overhaul, it’s been hard for them to find consistency. They’ll be a lottery team again. Denver, a Western Conference power last season is off to a slow start in the post-George Karl era. Losing crucial several roster components, like Andre Iguodala, Corey Brewer and Kosta Koufus have disrupted their rotation. They still have Ty Lawson to lead the team, but the recent injury to JaVale McGee is another blow to their depth. Denver has a significant home court advantage at Pepsi Center that could make them a fringe playoff contender, but it’s hard to see them making much of a run.
Andrew Wiggins Contenders: (Utah)

The Jazz are the NBA’s worst right now. With Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson playing for other teams the Jazz are relying on the young of Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter to provide the bulk of the scoring. The trio has potential but they’re young and overmatched against the rest of the Western Conference. Utah is solidly positioned to get a high lottery pick with the ability to add a significant piece next June.