Way-Too-Early NBA Power Rankings: Western Conference (8/7/19)

After all of the offseason movement of players in free-agency, the NBA has changed quite a bit and some teams have absolutely risen up in collective strength. Here’s my way-too-early rankings for the NBA teams in the West this season…

1.) Los Angeles Lakers:


Pros:

The Lakers are one of the most dominant teams in the West. Most fans were hoping that they could land Kawhi Leonard to add to the star-studded power of the Lakers — but in my opinion, this was a blessing in disguise. Now they probably are the team with the most player-depth in the West. To prove my point here is a list of the top ten players in purple and gold:

1. LeBron James2. Anthony Davis3. Demarcus Cousins4. Rajon Rondo5. Alex Caruso6. Kyle Kuzma7. Danny Green8. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (a.k.a. “KCP”)9. JaVale McGee10. Quin Cook


I dare you to name one team in the league that has more roster depth than the 2019-2020 Lakers. Also who else can name a roster that has 4 big men like LeBron, Davis, McGee, and Boogie?


Cons:


No one has seen all of these players play together before and this whole lineup could raise some questions like: will it be hard for LeBron James and Anthony Davis to share the ball because they play such similar positions.

2.) Los Angeles Clippers:


Pros:

It’s pretty hard to bet against the Clippers right now considering that they picked up Kawhi Leonard and Paul George a few weeks ago. Before they landed these two superstars, they were known as a really solid defensive team with Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams on their roster. The combination of the offensive dominance with one of the best defenses in the league will be quite a sight to see next year.

Cons:

Because of the big moves that their franchise made, the Clippers are going to lose a few players in the process. I know that Danilo Gallinari has already went to the Thunder and the Paul George trade costed a lot of future first round picks. So, the Clippers are aiming to win fast because in later years they could be in a worse place.

3.) Denver Nuggets:

Pros:

This might be the most talented team in the NBA. The combination of Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, and Paul Milsap is one of the best in the league. Not only that but they also have great depth to their team — with NBA rockstars like Will Barton and Malik Beasley on their bench! You know a team is really good when they have extremely talented players on their bench. To add to the many positive traits this team has, they also picked up Jerami Grant from the Thunder in the NBA offseason.

Cons:

My cause for concern on this team is that I don’t know if they will choke in the playoffs again like they did last year. This squad is the youngest NBA team and yet they still do quite well. But being young also has its downs — like choking in high-pressure situations.

4.) Houston Rockets:


Pros:

Two of the MVPs from the last three years are on the same team. Star-studded greatness. Westbrook and Harden. Brodie and the Beard. This will be an interesting duo to watch, because both are amazing ballers.

Cons:

Russell Westbrook and James Harden will both have to change their game if they want to succeed. Both are slashers that tend to hold the ball more than others. So in order to keep the ball moving well, the Rockets will have to make sure that both of their rockstars are not playing ISO (Isolation) ball all of the time…

5.) Portland Trailblazers:

Pros:

Their offensive game will be hard to top. This team locked up multiple all-star players for this next season. The Blazers now have a big 3 that is absolutely insane! Damian Lillard will continue to be clutch and C.J. McCollum will be able to fill in the gaps that Dame can’t. The new guy that they picked up, Hassan Whiteside, is 7’0″ and weighs a lean 265 pounds! He will play well with the team…

Cons:

The Trailblazers lost Ends Kanter to the Celtics, which will hurt their game in the paint some, but at least they picked up Whiteside, this should help a little…

6.) New Orleans Pelicans:

Pros:

On paper this team could be the best in the league — Zion, Zo, Brandon Ingam, Josh Hart, etc. I mean, the combination of the explosiveness of Zion Williamson, the basketball IQ of Lonzo Ball, the height of Brandon Ingram, and the excellent shooting Josh Hart could be unstoppable…

Cons:

This squad is really young and might need about a year to adjust playing with a whole different team. Sure, Ball, Ingram , and Hart were teammates before, but they still have to figure out their new coach and his strategies. Also there is that added factor of getting used to new facilities and new teammates as well — So it will be interesting to see how they all fit in.

7.) Golden State Warriors:

Pros:

The main positive aspect of all of the chaos in Dub Nation is that they picked up De’Angelo Russell in free agency. They also still have Steph Curry who is getting ready for possibly one of the best seasons of his career…

Cons:

Losing KD meant that they lost their back-to-back finals MVP, which is never a good thing. Also, since Klay Thompson tore his ACL during the finals, he will most-likely be out for the whole season.

8.) Utah Jazz:

Pros:

Adding Mike Conley to the team was a great decision. I believe that the combination of Donovan Mitchell and him will be one of the best duos in the Western Conference.

Cons:

In the midst of trading for Mike Conley, the Jazz also lost one of their best shooters — Grayson Allen, who is young and looks to be a bright star in the future. This was certainly the better short-term solution, but the Jazz better start winning fast for this trade to be effective…

9.) Minnesota Timberwolves:

Pros:

It’s always hard to count out K.A.T. And Andrew Wiggins. Those two are hard to beat. One battles for jump shots and the other works to get tons of points in the paint.

Cons:

They lost Jimmy Butler last year and that really showed how bad it hurt them: research. Jimmy Butler isn’t the greatest basketball player in the league — where he deserves a supermax deal. But he sure is big enough to make a significant difference.

10.) Phoenix Suns:

Pros:

I am excited to see the whole new Suns roster finally play together: Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre, Ricky Rubio, DeAndre Ayton, and Dario Saric.

Cons:

There is not much depth on this team. The only other star player on their team is Aaron Baynes.

11.) Memphis Grizzlies:

Pros:

Grayson Allen, Andre Igoudala, Dwight Howard, Ja Morant, and Jay Crowder is the stacked starting lineup…

Cons:

There isn’t a leader set in stone, so the ball movement could look a little funky. Normally with a team you will see a main leader like how LeBron is the leader of the Lakers, or Giannis is of the Bucks. This team does not seem to have a main leader, which means that someone will have to step up.

12.) San Antonio Spurs:

Pros:

This teams has the best coaching staff that I might have ever seen: Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, and Becky Hammon. Another important detail is that DeMar DeRozan is one of the best players in the league. Good coaching plus talent equals success!

Cons:


Players are getting old and some have retired already. We are beginning to see the end of the Spurs dynasty players…

13.) Sacramento Kings:

Pros:

The shooting game for this team will be good. De’Aron Fox is a great shooter with explosive basketball skills and Kyle Guy is an even better shooter so this team will only get better and better. Plus their big man is Harrison Barnes, so they have nothing to worry abut.


Cons:


Similarly to their neighbor in Phoenix, the depth is a big problem with this team.


14.) Dallas Mavericks:


Pros:


They didn’t pull any crazy bad moves in free agency — Seth Curry made a good addition. Most of the time a really good move for NBA teams doesn’t come without a consequence. So no bad moves came from here. Plus it was neat that Seth Curry and the Mavericks get to reunite again.


Cons:


They didn’t make any big trades either. The one problem with playing it to safe is that your team pretty much stays the same… and judging their last season, I would not want to be in their shoes.


15.) Oklahoma City Thunder:

Pros:


They acquired Chris Paul. The Thunder needed something to give their fans. Chris Pau is a good leader so he should lead his teammates in positive way.

Cons:


They got rid of Russ. In order to get Chris Paul from the Rockets, they had to trade their local hero, Russell Westbrook — which was a very controversial move. They also lost another good player, Jerami Grant, to the Denver Nuggets…

My Sources:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/rockets/2019/02/25/james-harden-30-point-streak-ends-32-games-rockets-hawks/2987191002/