At the beginning of the season I made predictions of where I thought the NBA teams would end up in their respective conferences. I thought it would be fun to compare those predictions to where the NBA teams actually rank since the All-Star Break is upon us. With the Eastern Conference Edition already published, it is time to compare for the Western Conference.
Los Angeles Lakers (Actual Ranking = #15; My Prediction = #11): You know what, I thought the Los Angeles Lakers would be better than what they actually are. I knew Roy Hibbert would not really turn it around, but I thought he would be better than his late Indiana Pacers time was. They added former Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams. They drafted D’Angelo Russell and had Julius Randle returning from injury. They are not good and they proved my prediction wrong.
Phoenix Suns (Actual Ranking = #14; My Prediction = #10): It is terrible here in Phoenix. The Suns are among one of the worst teams in the NBA. Eric Bledsoe is out for the rest of the season so being towards the bottom is going to be a normal thing for Phoenix this season. They almost made the playoffs last season and now they will not even be close. Kind of like another Western Conference team I will get to later.
Minnesota Timberwolves (Actual Ranking = #13; My Prediction = #15): The future is bright here in Minnesota. They have tons of young talent on this team that has the possibility of making this team a dangerous team in a couple of years. LaVine, Wiggins, Towns, Rubio, Dieng, Shabazz (etc), all make this team an intriguing one to keep an eye on. They are better than I predicted them to be.
New Orleans Pelicans (Actual Ranking = #12; My Prediction = #7): Like the Suns, the Pelicans are the other team that have underwhelmed in expectations. Injuries have decimated this team. Barring some miracle, this team is not going to the playoffs. Guys like Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson might get traded. They are generating interest from the league. Tyreke was as well but he went down with a season ending injury.
Denver Nuggets (Actual Ranking = #11; My Prediction = #14): Wilson Chandler is finished for the year due to injury but Gallinari has come back with vengeance. Danilo is an interesting trade piece if the Nuggets decide to ship him off. Barton and Jokic have had a very good season for the Nuggets as well. If they ship of Gallinari, they might fall a spot or two but I do not think they will fall to my beginning of season prediction.
Sacramento Kings (Actual Ranking = #10; My Prediction = #12): At one point, the Kings were sitting in the 8th seed. They have fallen off since then but maybe they can get back to that point. Rajon Rondo has had a very good season in his make-or-break season with the Sacramento Kings. DeMarcus Cousins has dominated as a center as well, named to the All-Stars as a reserve.They are still dysfunctional unfortunately as reports said George Karl was to be fired and then they backed off of that statement and let him stay head coach. We’ll just have to keep watch what happens in Sactown.
Houston Rockets (Actual Ranking = #9; My Prediction = #4): What is the Houston Rockets problem? We are at the All-Star Break and they still have not been able to answer that question. It obviously was not Kevin McHale because they are still struggling with J.B. Bickerstaff as the head coach. Is it Dwight Howard? Is it James Harden? We can speculate all we want but I do not think it will be fixed anytime soon.
Utah Jazz (Actual Ranking = #8; My Prediction = #9): My prediction is close so far. The Jazz have been sitting at #8 for a lot of the time but has also been right outside the playoffs too. Unless the Houston Rockets get it together, I do not see anyone taking the #8 spot from them. They have dealt with some injuries but this break will allow them to get rid of some of these bumps and bruises.
Portland Trail Blazers (Actual Ranking = #7; My Prediction = #13): To my defense, the Trail Blazers were a running punchline in the offseason. This was the starting lineup for them last year: Damian Lillard,
Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Robin Lopez. I put lines through four of their starters because they are gone. Arron Afflalo, their sixth man, left as well. No one expected to play like this and be currently sitting at #7 and would qualify for the playoffs. It is quite amazing to be honest.
Dallas Mavericks (Actual Ranking = #6; My Prediction = #8): Wesley Matthews has come back from that Achilles injury admirably. Dirk is still putting up number offensively. Center is their weak spot. Chandler Parsons has been dealing with injury for most of the season. Mavericks are still competing. They beat my prediction by two so far. Of course they do have ways they need to improve but for right now enjoy being qualified for the playoffs.
Memphis Grizzlies (Actual Ranking = #5; My Prediction = #5) Boom! Got one right so far. I thought the Grizzlies would be really good, I just thought there were going to be four even better Western Conference teams. Grizzlies have struggled this year. Zach Randolph has fell of, Marc Gasol is out for the year with a broken foot, which leaves Conley to shoulder most of the load. It is not looking good for Memphis right now.
Los Angeles Clippers (Actual Ranking = #4; My Prediction = #2): The Clippers are 35-18 right now and they have done a lot of that without big man Blake Griffin. Most of you probably know the story by now. He’s been battling injuries and as he got ready to return, punched a staff member and broke his hand putting him out even longer. Clippers are rightfully sitting at #4 because the other three teams that I have not yet talked about are easily better than the Clippers.
Oklahoma City Thunder (Actual Ranking = #3; My Prediction = #3): I went out on a limb putting OKC at #3 at the beginning of season because of all the injuries they had to endure last season. I put my faith in that they can most likely stay healthy and, for the most part, they have stayed healthy. Westbrook has played like an MVP Candidate as Kevin Durant puts in the work that he normally does. They lead this team to 40 wins and only two other teams have 40+ wins at this point in the season. Thunder are dangerous, watch out.
San Antonio Spurs (Actual Ranking = #2; My Prediction = #6): I thought the Spurs were going to be good, I just did not know they would be this good. I thought they would save most of it for the playoffs, like they normally do. I was wrong. They go into the All-Star Break with a 45-8 record.
Golden State Warriors (Actual Ranking = #1; My Prediction = #1): Golden State is having a legendary season. They are on pace to beat the 72-10 Chicago Bulls. They have a record of 48-4 and have completely dominated the league. It is fun to watch and I do not see it stopping anytime soon. This team plays for each other and that is why it works so well.