Originally posted on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 12/29/11

 

We’re five days into the first post-lockout season in the National Basketball Association since the wild 1999-2000 season. These are my predictions on how the “ridirkuosly” loaded Western Conference will shape up at the end of what is looking like an extremely intriguing regular season.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

All is not well in Oklahoma as of today. Last night Russell Westbrook had one of the worst shooting performances since Chris Bosh went 1-18 last season (Bosh jokes are never irrelevant). Westbrook and my pick to be MVP, Kevin Durant, got into it on the bench and this alpha dog predicament seems to be ongoing. But I suspect this issue to end shortly, with KD taking over the “go-to guy” role. Not to mention, the Thunder have James Harden coming off the bench. and don’t be surprised at all if he ends up being the sixth man of the year. The Thunder are extremely young, athletic, and deep, and I believe when it comes down to it they’ll finish at the top of the West.

2. Los Angeles Clippers

Lob City! This is a risky pick because we haven’t seen much of this new and improved Clips team. No other team had as good, or as publicly watched off-season. The new kings of LA traded for all-world point guard Chris Paul, as well as picking up veterans Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler both of who come with rings. All we know right now is that this team is a must-watch every night, but with CP3 and Blake Griffin running the court don’t be surprised to see this team win around 50 games.

3. Memphis Grizzlies

Don’t buy into their 0-2 start. This team is young and has a great core with Z-Bo, Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay, and Mike Conley. Last year they gave OKC all they could handle in the Western Conference Semi-Finals, and that was without Gay. The Grizz have a decent bench led by O.J. Mayo and with the fresh legs this team is going to be good to go with all the back to backs in the condensed schedule this season.

4. Dallas Mavericks

Like Memphis, the panic meter shouldn’t be very high in Dallas after the Mavs slow start to the season. I can write an entire article on my hometown team and what to expect after the world champs lost Tyson Chandler and key contributors J.J. Barea and Deshawn Stevenson. Once the defending champs get back into shape (Dirk hadn’t played basketball at all in two months before training camp), and they get their new additions accumulated the hunger to defend that sweet title will kick in and the Mavs will be fine as long as Vince Carter doesn’t single handedly ruin them. I picked them to finish fourth only because I can’t deny the fact that this team is extremely old and that doesn’t bode well for them in the quick 66 game season. Just remember when there is a Dirk, there is a way, and until another team takes it away this team is the champs.

5. San Antonio Spurs

As much as I hate the Spurs, you can’t count out Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker, and Coach Gregg Popovich. I don’t expect the Spurs to win the most games in the West like they did last season, but I do expect them to want revenge after being the number one seed and losing in the first round last April. We’ve seen what this core has accomplished before and although I don’t expect them to win any more championships with the aging Tim Duncan, they will be contenders in the West.

6. Los Angeles Lakers

While the Lakeshow shares their arena with the team who had the best off season, the Los Angeles Kobes may have had the worst. After David Stern (The Dictator) vetoed the trade landing the Lakers Chris Paul, the other team in LA ended up be getting the highly wanted point guard. After the trade Lamar Odom wanted out, and the Lakers ended up giving him to the team that swept them out of the playoffs last May for virtually nothing. If Pau Gasol doesn’t step up his game, and Kobe not getting any younger this could be a rough season for Lakers fans. Personally, I wouldn’t bet against them in a playoff series for one reason and one reason only, Kobe. Even with that this could be a tough regular season for the former kings of Los Angeles.

7. Denver Nuggets

After seeing this squad route my Mavs in person on Monday night it’s hard not to be impressed. They have three key players, J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin, and Wilson Chandler, all trapped in China trying to dig a tunnel to get back to the States. Even without those three away, Ty Lawson and Nene are going to lead this team to a respectable record in the West. The Nugs are already deep, and once their Chinese-American counterparts are freed this team could be the deepest in the league.

8. Portland Trail Blazers

Even after the devastating early retirement of Brandon Roy who was once thought to be the face of the franchise for years to come, along with the continuously depressing news of former first overall draft pick Greg Oden, the Trail Blazers will still be solid this year. LaMarcus Aldridge is a budding superstar, and the Blazers also made a very under-the-radar pickup by snagging free agent Jamal Crawford. Don’t expect this team to contend for a title but they can beat any team on any given night.

-Weitz

 

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Chris Long donating game checks to fund Charlottesville scholarships

Jason Garrett to discuss effort with Ezekiel Elliott

WATCH: Tigers’ Jeff Ferrell responsive after taking 103-mph liner to head

College football's biggest winners and losers so far

Ben McAdoo throws Eli Manning under the bus

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

The Giants are just as bad as they look

Winners and losers from 'Monday Night Football' in Week 2

10 things the college football polls got wrong after Week 3

Andrew Bogut reportedly will sign with Lakers

Jamal Agnew burns Giants with 88-yard punt return

Report: Judge Adalaide Byrd could be removed from UFC 216

The 'Remember the tight ends' quiz

Ranking the best college football fan bases

Getaway Day: Time runs short as postseason nears

Sports & Politics Intersect: White House sticks it to sports

The 'Not so elementary, my dear Watson' quiz

September chill hits Astros, Dodgers at worst time

College football 2017 Week 3 predictions

Three Up, Three Down: Cleveland hits historic heights while Cubs struggle

The 'Will the Indians ever lose again?' quiz

What's to become of Andy Dalton in Cincinnati?

NFL Week 2 predictions

The 'Kobe finally does something that Jordan did not do' quiz

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Ranking the best college football fan bases

The 'Remember the tight ends' quiz

Getaway Day: Time runs short as postseason nears

Sports & Politics Intersect: White House sticks it to sports

The 'Not so elementary, my dear Watson' quiz

September chill hits Astros, Dodgers at worst time

Three Up, Three Down: Cleveland hits historic heights while Cubs struggle

The 'Will the Indians ever lose again?' quiz

What's to become of Andy Dalton in Cincinnati?

College football 2017 Week 3 predictions

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker