Oct 24, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs (from right) Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker, and Matt Bonner watch from the bench during the second half against the Houston Rockets at AT

Western Conference - How they'll finish

The NBA regular arrives – finally! – this week, so let’s look into the crystal ball to predict how all 30 teams will finish the 82-game schedule. Today, we’re going west.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the Comments.


Oklahoma City Thunder



Another season of speedy, gifted players like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scoring seemingly at will.  Can they defend, and how’s their second unit? A serious championship contender, again. Westbrook starts the season in civvies, so they’ll need to bond quickly. Can Serge Ibaka find the next level, particularly on offense?
Denver Nuggets



They threw aside their coach, and their GM came to Toronto. Unlike last season, Denver won’t sneak up on anybody, but Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried won’t get their opponents an inch. Evan Fournier may take a step forward.
Portland Trail Blazers



LaMarcus Aldridge is a nice player up front, and Damien Lillard can score, but I think this young team’s defense will be its undoing. They upgraded their dreadful bench, but won’t be a championship contender for several years. Making the playoffs would be a feat, & helpful for Portland’s development.
Minnesota Timberwolves



Will Kevin Love & Ricky Rubio ever play a season together? No team exemplifies the NBA’s injury problems like the T’Wolves. If they can stay healthy, the Wolves can beat anyone. Like the Atlanta Hawks, this team could win 25 or 50.
Utah Jazz



Everybody’s gone, except the useful Gordon Hayward. This team will be out of a lot of games early. Their backcourt is weak, & their frontcourt is inexperienced.



Los Angeles Clippers



A team featuring 2 potential MVPs in Chris Paul & Blake Griffin. They need to stop being Next Season’s Team, and I think they have the depth to do so. With guys like Jamal Crawford & J.J. Redick coming off the bench, this squad will pile up the points.
Golden State Warriors



These guys are so close to being great, but could just as easily be a disaster. Stephen Curry & Andrew Bogut are more fragile than a Ming vase. Let’s hope they stay healthy; they will be fun to watch. Harrison Barnes, Andre Igudola & David Lee flesh out a lineup which could lead the NBA in scoring.
Sacramento Kings



They have made some changes, but bring back manchild DeMarcus Cousins on a fat contract, and one-dimensional Jimmer Fredette. Offense will be a problem. Next year may see them at .500, but not this one. A team that’s been in the doldrums for a long time.
Los Angeles Lakers



Mystique, history & fancy-coloured uniforms are all nice, but won’t put the ball in the hoop. The ultimate “if” team – if Kobe recovers, if Steve Nash finds the Fountain of Youth, if a young player turns into a star. I’m not buying it. And how many chances do Steve Blake & Jordan Farmar get?
Phoenix Suns



A once-proud franchise hits bottom. Nothing these guys have tried recently has worked out. Trading Marcin Gortat to the Wiz means the Suns may have 4 first-round picks in 2014. This season is toast before it starts, so play the kids & suffer.



Houston Rockets



James Harden can score, & Dwight Howard can defend. There are lots of solid complementary pieces, like Chandler Parsons & Jeremy Lin, plus perhaps the NBA’s most tradeable backup, centre Omer Asik. Can they make it all work?
San Antonio Spurs



The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And the parts (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker) are hellish good, as are up-&-comers like Kawhi Leonard & Tiago Splitter. A superbly managed & coached organization…
Memphis Grizzlies



This team is overdue to make a serious push. Their front court, with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, is second to none, but their guards are not of championship calibre. Psst – play Ed Davis more!
Dallas Mavericks  38


The entire Mavericks organization seems to fuss excessively about whether any moves they make will be OK with Dirk. If I were their GM, I’d trade the guy & start again. Jose Calderon will pile up the assists, and Monta Ellis will score, but the other pieces don’t add up. What’s the plan in big D?
New Orleans Pelicans



Watch out for this team. I think they need another season of playing together, and losing close games, before they are ready to make a move. However, I’d be neither surprised nor unhappy if they won 45 games.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.

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Tags: Dallas Mavericks Denver Nuggets Ed Davis Golden State Warriors Houston Rockets Los Angeles Clippers Los Angeles Lakers Memphis Grizzlies Minnesota Timberwolves NBA Season Preview New Orleans Pelicans Oklahoma City Thunder Portland Trail Blazers Sacramento Kings Utah Jazz

  • Slap Dog Hoops

    Your win totals are pretty low, Bryan–especially concering the Spurs and the Clipper. I do not know how you figure OKC winning 59 games, especially with Westbrook injured and their bench being a big time question mark. Here is how I see it unfolding.

    1. Houston
    2. San Antonio
    3. LA Clippers
    4. OKC
    5. Golden State
    6. Portland
    7. Minnesota
    8. Sacramento

    I don’t see Memphis making the playoffs since they let go Lionel Hollins and with no real perimeter help to back up the post play of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, they’ll certainly be on the outside looking in. The same goes for Denver no longer having George Karl, plus with their head scratching off season moves and their rather less than stellar roster, will certainly not be heading to its 11th straight playoff appearance. I would have had the Lakers at 8th, but the way that Sacramento has been playing, the Kings might actually surprise and become this season’s version of the Golden State Warriors.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi SDH:
      While it’s impossible to predict which team will be most damaged by injuries, it’s reasonable to assume older teams are more vulnerable than younger ones. That’s one of the reasons I marked down the Spurs.
      I’m intrigued by your emphasis on coaches (or their lack, in the case of Denver). Certainly it’s a valid point when we consider the Clippers, who’ve got a real coach in Doc Rivers.
      I’m a lonely guy when it comes to the Lakers; most analysts believe they will somehow figure it all out, and slide into the playoffs. If I’m wrong, so be it, but I think the West is too tough for a team that won’t be functioning on all cylinders for much of the season.
      This is why we play the games!
      Thanks for commenting.