I feel like I say this every year, but the 2019 NBA off-Season may be the wildest off-season in the history of the league. Has there ever been a summer where we’ve seen so many stars move around and make so many different teams legitimate contenders like this? For the first time in years I genuinely have no idea who is going to hoist the Larry O’ Brien trophy at the end of June and as a fan, I’ve never been more excited for a new season to start in my life.
With Anthony Davis joining the Lakers, Russ being sent to Houston, and Kawhi joining forces with PG in LA, the western conference has received the bulk of the shakeup in the league and it’s made predicting the seeding for this year harder than ever. But without further ado, here’s my prediction for the following season in the wild wild west.
Number one seed: Houston Rockets
Watching Russell Westbrook & James Harden on the same team again (This time they’re both in their primes) is going to be FUN. The Rockets were able to snag 53 wins last year and that’s with CP3 only playing in 58 games last season.
They’re going to be a great regular season team for sure, but my concerns with this group is strictly with their postseason performance. Especially considering that both Harden & Russ both have very recent playoff meltdowns on their resume.
Number two seed: Denver Nuggets
The young Nuggets were a pleasant surprise for the league last season finishing as the #2 seed behind Golden State led by their two young stars in Jokic & Murray.
The Nuggets are young and they’re only going to progressively get better. Knocking off Pop & the Spurs was no small feat and going seven games against arguably the best back-court in the league vs CJ/Dame was highly impressive and I expect the Nuggets to continue their ascension that could even result in a WCF berth this year.
Number three seed: Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are going to be a DAMN good team this year. This roster won 48 games last season and added two of the best two way players in the league to their roster. The only reason I’m not predicting them to finish higher as a one or two seed is because I’m accounting for PG healing from his shoulder injury and Kawhi undoubtedly sitting out at least 10 games due to load management.
Number four seed: Utah Jazz
The 2nd ranked defense in the league added Mike Conley, one of the most impressive defensive guards of this decade to their roster and also added sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic who shot 42% from the 3pt line last season while also averaging 18 points a night. The Jazz are just as good as any team in the league and if Donovan Mitchell takes that leap (which I fully expect him to do) into being one of the elite two guards in the league this year, Jazz fans could see a title in Utah for the first time in team history.
Number five seed: Golden State Warriors
I would have the Warriors higher on this list but missing Klay Thompson for most of the season, if not all of the season is going to be a huge hit for them. For the first time in years I expect this team to struggle on the defensive end of the ball. Steph’s struggles are well documented at this point and D’Lo was one of the worst defensive guards in the league last season. Nonetheless when Klay makes his return I expect them to turn the corner and make an appearance in the conference finals no matter their seeding.
Number six seed: Los Angeles Lakers
Like the Warriors, I have the Lakers listed as a lower seed but behind Lebron & AD I could very well see this team making run into the conference finals. The Demarcus Cousins injury just makes their depth at the 4 and 5 spots…. yeah. If Boogie were healthy and ready to go it would likely be another story but with him going down I just don’t foresee a scenario where they finish higher than a four seed at the very max.
Number seven seed: San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are probably the most slept on team in the league. I’m not sure if just because of their quiet nature or people dismissing them because they’re led by Demar Derozan but the Spurs have a damn good roster with arguably the best collection of guards in the league. With a healthy Murray back along with young studs like White, Johnson, and Lonnie Walker don’t be surprised if the Spurs upset one of the higher seeds on this list.
Number eight seed: Portland Trailblazers
I know having the Blazers finish this low may be an eyebrow raiser for most people but keep in mind that I think that the first and eight seed in the west will finish no more than 8-10 games apart from each other. Just as the spurs have the best collection of guards of any team in the west, the Blazers arguably have the best collection of big men in the west with the addition of veteran rim protector Hassan Whiteside.