January 29, 2023

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THE WESTERN CONFERENCE 2022-2023 PROJECTIONS

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In the Western and Eastern Conference with the start of the NBA season getting closer and closer, most of the signings are in the dust, and the rest are also out of contract because of some issues that the team doesn’t care about, like Hornets players Miles Bridges and Montrezl Harrell who have committed crimes. There are not many big fish left in the free market, and there are very few players who can greatly improve the team’s strength. In other words, the depth and overall strength of the NBA teams have been roughly determined.

This ranking prediction will be divided into three parts, namely 15-11 (missed the playoffs), 10-7 (playoffs), 6-1 (playoffs), and I will also talk about the Tier in my mind.

The 2021-2022 Western Conference champ Golden State Warriors is ready to repeat again.

Western Conference (missed the playoffs)

15. Spurs (Tier 5)

The Spurs traded away White and Young at the trade deadline last season in exchange for some first-round picks. The Spurs have been peddling different players mid-season and have shown their intent to rebuild.

The Spurs sent Dejounte Murray, who was selected as an All-Star for the first time last season, in the offseason this year, received three first-round picks and one swap right from the Eagles, and bought out the veteran Danilo Gallinari, who was sent along with them, and the Spurs entered again. Reconstruction period.

Without Murray, White and Young, the Spurs’ strength must have dropped a lot. The Spurs will definitely play the entire season next season, strive for the No. 1 overall pick in the class of 2023, speed up the rebuild, and draft Victor Wembenyama.

Youngsters such as Primo and Sochan will have more chances to play. Together with Poeltl, the Spurs in a few years are also worth looking forward to.

14. Jazz (Tier 5)

In the past few years, the Jazz have been a team that has consistently made the playoffs, but it has not made it to the Western Conference finals every year. The Jazz also decisively dismantled the duo of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert this offseason, sent Gobert to the Timberwolves, and traded for a large number of first-round picks again. Similar to the Spurs’ situation, they also entered a state of rebuilding. The Jazz are also open to trading Mitchell. If he is really sent away, then the Jazz will really fall into a rebuild. At this stage, the Jazz are also hoarding first-round picks to prepare for the rebuild.

The Jazz still have veterans such as Bogdanovic and Conley, and they traded THT and Stanley Johnson to Salt Lake City. The overall depth of the lineup is also higher than that of the Spurs, but there is little chance of reaching the playoffs next season or even the playoffs. They still have the opportunity to start a trade and continue to accumulate first-round picks. I expect the Jazz to rank 14th in the Western Conference next season.

13. Thunder (Tier 4)

The author was very optimistic about the Thunder’s performance next season. In the draft, Chet Holmgren and two Williams were selected, plus SGA, Giddey and others, the Thunder really had a chance to enter the playoffs, and the record would be at least better than last season a lot of.

However, Chet was injured in the amateur league “Crawsover” against LeBron, and was later determined to be out of season. His injury has decimated the Thunder, but the addition of Williams and the growth of Poku and Giddey also make the Thunder expected to be stronger than last season.

12. Rockets (Tier 4)

The author thought for a long time, in the end should put the rocket or the king here, and finally decided to put the rocket. After the Rockets sent Wood, the restricted area was expected to go to Jabari Smith Jr and Alperen Sengun. Whether or not the Rockets’ youngsters can grow next season will be a factor in whether they can get ahead of No. 12 next season. Inexperience is also their current disadvantage.

11. Kings (Tier 4)

The author is very optimistic about the Fox+Sabonis connection. After sending Haliburton away, the Kings need to find an organizer, and Sabonis is exactly what they need. Murray and Huerter don’t have high-level playmaking skills yet, and both are currently scoring, so Sabonis’ presence becomes valuable.

Therefore, the reason why I put the King in front of the Rockets is that I am optimistic about the King’s lineup next season and have more overall game experience than the Rockets. But it is undeniable that the strength of the Kings and the Rockets next season is quite close. If the rankings of the two are interchanged, the author is also acceptable.

Western Conference (playoff teams)

The above are the five teams that I think will miss the playoffs next season, namely the Spurs, Jazz, Thunder, Rockets and Kings. Then let’s take a look at which four teams I predict will make it to the playoffs and compete for a playoff spot.

10. Trail Blazers (Tier 3)

The Blazers have been active in free agency this season after selling out McCollum, Covington and Powell last season. Jerami Grant, Gary Payton II and Shaedon Sharpe have all joined Portland. Add in star Damian Lillard and starter Jusuf Nurkic, and the Trail Blazers’ lineup 3 is definitely much better than last season’s end, or even a notch or two higher. The author is also looking forward to the performance of Anfernee Simons, who has just been replaced.

9. Lakers (Tier 3)

This season, the Lakers have begun to sign back some young players. Lonnie Walker and Thomas Bryant are both signings that will help the Lakers to a certain extent. The arrival of JTA and Troy Brown is also to enhance the depth of the lineup.

LeBron+AD has had a very good chemical effect in the past few years. Beverley brings more defensive energy to the Lakers. As long as Westbrook plays better than last season, the Lakers should not have much problem entering the top nine in the Western Conference. The playoffs still need to fight. The competition in the West is really big. With the lineup of the Blazers and the Lakers, it was already the level of a playoff team a few years ago.

8. Timberwolves (Tier 2)

The author thought for a long time when ranking the Timberwolves, Lakers, and Trailblazers, but still ranked the Timberwolves eighth. The Timberwolves have big plans for this offseason, using multiple first-round picks and players to bring Rudy Gobert to the team.

The foursome of Edwards+Gobert+Towns+Russel is really worth looking forward to. There are also experienced players such as Anderson+Forbes+Prince on the bench, and two rookies waiting to be developed. The overall strength and depth of the lineup are higher than those of the Lakers and Trailblazers, and the development is also relatively high. If Edwards can grow significantly next season, the Timberwolves will be more than eighth in the West at any time.

7. Mavericks (Tier 2)

The Lone Ranger ushered in Wood in the offseason trade this year, and also signed McGee, filling up the originally barren interior. Although Brunson has left, the overall strength is not worse than last season, and there is more room for rookie Jaden Hardy to play.

Western Conference (elite playoff teams)

6. Suns (Tier 2)

The Suns’ overall roster is almost the same as last season, but it loses McGee, an important rotation player. The bench was also led by Cameron Johnson and Cameron Payne. Rotation depth seems to be lower than other teams, and Chris Paul’s health is also important. In the face of his getting older and older, the sun may not be able to go that far.

Fortunately, Ayton+Bridges+Booker is still young, Paul’s usage rate and ball possession are declining every year, and it is almost handed over to these young people. If they break out next season, the record could be even better.

5. Pelicans (Tier 2)

Next season’s top pick Zion Williamson will return, with McCollum and Ingram. The team also has green leaves like Graham, Hayes and Valunciunas, and must be fine on offense.

Williamson and Ingram are likely to grow to some extent next season, and the individual numbers could improve significantly. The Pelicans have two All-Star-level players to lead the team next season, and with other leafy players and potential young players, the Pelicans will have a great future next season.

And the overall age of the team is not too old, younger than the sixth-placed Suns and seventh-ranked Mavericks. Zion is only 22, and Ingram is only 24. The Pelicans also outrank the Suns and Mavericks in lineup strength, bench depth and overall age. The team still has a lot of roster improvement opportunities, and if one of the players improves quickly, the Pelicans may be stronger.

4. Grizzlies (Tier 2)

Like the Pelicans, the Grizzlies are a very young team. Although the team did not change much in the offseason, the overall lineup may not be as high as the Golden Nuggets, Clippers and Warriors in front, but the Grizzlies led by Ja Morant, as well as Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr, two quasi-stars Players, it shouldn’t be a problem to get into the top four in the Western Conference.

3. Nuggets (Tier 1)

The Nuggets will usher in the return of the main players Michael Porter Jr and Jamal Murray next season, and they will exchange KCP in exchange for trading, and their book strength has improved a lot.

Hyland is expected to rise to the starting lineup and replace Monte Morris. Hyland will have more opportunities to play and have a chance to usher in a big breakout.

Next season’s Nuggets lineup is complete, healthy MPJ and Murray are terrific, and they may be close to All-Star shape. Coupled with Jokic, the Nuggets will be one of the favorites to win the championship.

2. Clippers (Tier 1)

The Clippers’ current lineup is really menacing, led by Clippers duo Paul George + Kawhi Leonard. In my opinion, the Clippers have the best lineup in the NBA. In addition to the Clippers Double Star + Wall, the team has a lot of scoring points. Powell, Jackson and Covington are some of the players who can jump out and save the team.

1. Warriors (Tier 1)

The Warriors, Clippers, and Gold Nuggets are all contenders for first place in the Western Conference, but in the end, I chose the Warriors. The Warriors’ big three, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green already have a lot of game experience, and with Poole and Wiggins, the entire team has become very competitive.

While the Warriors will have fewer veterans next season and lose some rotation players, it also provides more room for youngsters and rookies who have a decent chance of becoming more competent role players. The core of the Warriors has not left the team, and the entire team has not changed much, so there is no need for a long running-in period. Therefore, the author is optimistic that their record will not be affected too much, and they will become the No. 1 in the West Division next season, but they may not be able to win the championship at this stage. The real strength depends on the young people.

Summarize

Next season, the competition in the Western Conference will become very fierce. Except for the two teams that are determined to destroy the rebuilding team and the Thunder who are the main force Chet is injured, the other 12 teams are also very close in strength.

Here are the full Western Conference ranking predictions:

  1. Warriors
  2. Clippers
  3. Nuggets
  4. Grizzlies
  5. Pelicans
  6. Suns
  7. Mavericks
  8. Timberwolves
  9. Lakers
  10. Trail Blazers
  11. Kings
  12. Rockets
  13. Thunder
  14. Jazz
  15. Spurs

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