In a stacked Western Conference, Two perennial powerhouses stand in between the Dallas Mavericks and the 2020 NBA playoffs.
My six expected locks for the playoffs, in no particular order are the: LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Utah Jazz, Portland Trailblazers, Denver Nuggets, and Houston Rockets. I know it’s still early, but on paper these six teams appear to be the cream of the Western Conference crop. While the Dallas Mavericks are eyeing one of the coveted last spots, two formidable opponents stand in their way.
The first team being a very well known Mavs bug-a-boo, the San Antonio Spurs. It’s not often that the Gregg Popovich coached Spurs aren’t preseason locks for the playoffs. Making the playoffs in all of the past 22 seasons, the Spurs find themselves in unfamiliar territory.
The Spurs struggled to make the playoffs last year, and made few changes to their roster. DeMarre Carroll and Trey Lyles are the most notable additions. In this year’s West, taking this Spurs team to the postseason will be tough even for the great Gregg Popovich.
The Spurs posted a record of 48-34 in the 18-19 season. A record that earned them the 7th seed in last year’s playoffs, despite guard Dejounte Murray only playing in three games because of an injury. Murray returning to join DeMar DeRozan and Derrick White gives the Spurs one of the better backcourts in the league. With their size and ability to cause matchup problems on both end of the court, the Spurs guard play should definitely be their strength next season.
Thank you Marcus Morris
The Spurs went into this year’s free agency looking to bolster their frontcourt adding DeMarre Carroll to their forward rotation. They also got forward Marcus Morris to agree to a two year 20 million dollar contract. With the addition of Carroll and Morris along with the return of Murray, the Spurs looked poised to make a deep playoff run.
In a move to free up cap space to sign Morris the Spurs traded sharpshooter Davis Bertans to the Washington Wizards. Thankfully Morris backed out on the Spurs a’la Deandre Jordan excepting a one year 15 million dollar contract from the New York Knicks. In Bertans the Spurs gave up their best three point shooter for pretty much nothing.
In an offseason that saw the top teams in the West get noticeably better, the Spurs look to have taken a step back. And an injury to any of their frontcourt players could derail the Spurs playoffs hopes. Depth and shooting will be two big question marks for the Spurs this coming season.
Not so Superteam
Surprisingly the second team standing in the Dallas Mavericks way are the reigning four time champs of the West, the Golden State Warriors. It feels strange putting the Warriors back down at the bottom of the Western Conference. The seemingly unstoppable dynasty looks to have finally come to end(insert dancing emoji) due to the departure of Kevin Durant, and Andre Iguodala (along with Klay Thompson expected to miss most of the season).
The Warriors made an attempt to soften the blow adding D’Angelo Russell to their roster. Russell gives the Warriors another offensive weapon to lighten the load on Steph Curry. I like the addition of Russell on paper. However, the Warriors backcourt defense will most likely struggle in a Western Conference, where most teams best players are guards. Will these two ball dominate guards who are average defenders, be enough to compete in the stacked west?
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The Warriors also added center Willie Cauley-Stein from the Sacramento Kings. Cauley-Stein is a rebounder and rim protector that will most likely come off the bench behind Kevon Looney. Willie Cauley-Stein adds much need depth and defense. But outside of being a lob threat, he offers little on the offensive side of the court. He will definitely not fill the void left by Kevin Durant on either end.
You can’t underestimate the pressure Steph Curry puts on a defense. But this Warriors team, at least on paper, is much worse than they have been the past few seasons. They lack depth and perimeter defense, two things that they’ll need to compete in the west. If D’Angelo or Steph miss any substantial amount of time the Warriors will be in the lottery for the first time since drafting Klay Thompson in 2011.
2019-2020 Western Conference prediction
1. LA Clippers
2. Houston Rockets
3. Utah Jazz
4. LA Lakers
5. Portland Trailblazers
6. Denver Nuggets
7. Dallas Mavericks
8. San Antonio Spurs
9. Sacramento Kings
10. Golden State Warriors
12. New Orleans Pelicans
13. Memphis Grizzlies
14. Phoenix Suns
- Published on 09/25/2019 at 11:00 AM
- Last updated at 09/25/2019 at 10:38 AM