We are wrapping up our previews of the NBA, with the season starting on today. As we head into another exciting campaign, we’ve got the official Commentary Box Sports NBA predictions for 2016-17 – and here we go with the West.
Here are the predictions, in order of projected conference standings:
1. Golden State Warriors (64-18)
I mean, what’s there to say about the Warriors that hasn’t already been said during the offseason? I don’t think they’ll be quite as good as last year, and losing Bogut is going to hurt more than they realize…but come on. The talent on this team is unreal. And they should be the heavy favorites to win it all.
2. Los Angeles Clippers (56-26)
The Clippers are back for another round of contention. When healthy, the Clips have been one of the most consistent and dominant teams in the NBA. But that’s just it: the Clippers haven’t been consistently healthy in a few years, and the core is getting older. They are still talented and one of the top teams, but this needs to be the year.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) October 25, 2016
3. San Antonio Spurs (55-27)
The Spurs still have the bulk of the roster that won a ton of games a year ago, but there’s one big key missing: Tim Duncan. The roster is slowly beginning its fall to the post-Duncan era, and while there’s plenty of talent, there’s just something off about this Spurs team. They still should be very good, though.
4. Utah Jazz (53-29)
Yes! The Jazz! I have them winning 50 games, and I think they could potentially be better than the four seed if one of these older teams take a tumble. I love the Jazz roster and reckon this team is ready to move its way up. The division is manageable, and there is room to progress in the West. The Jazz have arrived.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder (49-33)
We’re about to see just how much Kevin Durant meant to Russell Westbrook. There’s plenty of talent around Russ in OKC, and it’s going to be interesting to see how he utilizes it as the top dog for the first time. There’ll be no more drama between the youth in OKC; this is Westbrook’s team, for better or for worse.
6. Houston Rockets (46-36)
I really hope you like points, because that’s what you’ll see a lot of in Houston. The Harden-led Rockets are going to score early and often, and not play much defense in doing so. That’s going to lead to some blowouts if they aren’t shooting well, but this team has way too much offense and firepower to not play well enough.
Celebrate 50 Seasons of Rockets basketball! #Rockets50
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) October 24, 2016
7. Minnesota Timberwolves (45-37)
The Timberwolves are going to be one of the most fun teams to watch in the NBA this year. With a new head coach to teach them defense and an endless pool of young, promising talent, it’s finally time to be excited in Minnesota. I think they are a playoff team, and would you have believed me saying that a few years ago? This is a rebuild done right.
8. Portland Trail Blazers (44-38)
The Trail Blazers doubled down on their young core, adding in a veteran presence in Evan Turner and spending a ton of money. We’ll see if that pays off, as the rest of the West got deeper and hungrier. It helps to have a star like Damian Lillard, however, and he should get even better in a new year as the top dog.
9. Dallas Mavericks (44-38)
The Mavericks reloaded in the offseason and I actually like the moves they’ve made. The addition of Bogut was great and will open up the offense. But Harrison Barnes was a big gamble at max money, and isn’t playing great in the preseason. I think the Mavs narrowly miss the playoffs, but they should linger around all season.
10. Memphis Grizzlies (40-42)
The Grizzlies are still the same old grit-and-grind team they’ve always been, but a healthy Marc Gasol should aid that. They also added Chandler Parsons, who could help their shooting woes. But he won’t solve it – they still can’t shoot from deep anywhere on the roster other than the new guy.
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) October 24, 2016
11. Sacramento Kings (34-48)
The Kings are still the Kings, and we’ll get another year of their dysfunction. But they’ve actually got a working roster and we could see some nice play with a new head coach that knows defense. If Joerger can get them believing, they can beat some teams – and that may be all it takes to try and get a new locker room mentality.
12. Los Angeles Lakers (30-52)
After the Kobe Bryant era finally ended last season, the Lakers were able to go full rebuild, and brought in some veteran talent to train the young guys up and down the roster. The roster is really interesting, and if they stay healthy, the Lakers should actually compete. Look out for D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson.
13. New Orleans Pelicans (26-56)
The Pellys faced an offseason of relocation this time around, dropping talent off a roster that could ill-afford it. And with the guys that were left, injuries have taken a toll. Sure, the roster should be fun and energetic, but if Jrue Holiday is going to miss big time again, it’s another year of purgatory for Anthony Davis.
14. Denver Nuggets (25-57)
I badly want the Nuggets to win again. They have some nice young talent and some solid veteran presence, but there’s not a star on the team. They hope Emmauel Mudiay turns into one, but until then, it’s going to be a long trek toward competing on a regular basis.
15. Phoenix Suns (18-64)
Another year of the Suns rebuild, but they should be a fun and athletic team to watch. Devin Booker is a national treasure, and Dragan Bender and Marquess Chriss are good players. Unfortunately, when a rookie or second-year guy is among your top players, it doesn’t translate into wins.
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) October 25, 2016