Hello there, reader. Thanks for taking the time to check this out! Whether you’re a Laker fan or not, Lakers Outsiders has decided to preview what we think the Western conference playoff picture will look like. With additions like LeBron James and DeMar DeRozan and the Jimmy Butler saga unfolding in Minnesota, it is difficult trying to figure out how the season will transpire in a conference chock-full of talented teams and then teams like the Sacramento Kings.
First up, we have our very talented Dillon Hiser, who helps with graphics and also contributes to Niners Nation.
- Warriors: They’re still clearly the best team in the league, nothing has changed and if we’re being honest they’ve probably widened the gap this summer.
- Rockets: Houston made some questionable off-season decisions but they’re still incredibly talented and will be excellent in the regular season.
- Jazz: Rudy Gobert missed extended time last year and he makes their already stellar defense even better. Donovan Mitchell is a star in the making and Quin Snyder is an elite coach, the Jazz will improve.
- Lakers: If the Lakers were healthy last year they are at least a .500 team in my eyes, and with another year of growth from the young guys they should be even better. Oh, and LeBron.
- Thunder: They got off to a rocky start last season but played well down the stretch, I don’t expect them to have as many issues to open this year. They’ve still got one of the best duos in the NBA and will have more defined roles for their players with Carmelo Anthony gone.
- Pelicans: Anthony Davis turned into a destroyer of world when DeMarcus Cousins went down and they’ve added pieces around him that fit. Also, Jrue Holiday is the truth and will be huge for them just as he was last year.
- Spurs: Honestly, this is mostly just giving Pop respect. That roster is pretty bleh outside of Aldridge, DeRozan, and Murray but he’ll somehow make it work.
- Trail Blazers: Portland added some interesting pieces this summer that I’m not sure will work or not. However, they played great defense last year and are led by one of the guard combos in the league.
Next, we have our beloved Grant Goldberg. You’ve seen his work as it’s widely plagiarized by other Laker sites. He transforms into Juan Foyth at level 16 and then Moe Wagner at level 32.
- Golden State: No-brainer, Houston loses out on the top seed after losing Ariza and replacing him with Melo.
- Houston Rockets: The Rockets fall one spot after last year, this might be a generous seeding.
- Utah Jazz: Still not worried about them.
- Los Angeles Lakers: LeBron James isn’t playing for the 8th seed. C’mon now.
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook and Paul George will be without Carmelo Anthony, freeing up the ball a bit more. Adams and Roberson will help fill out a Thunder team that at least gets to the first round of the playoffs.
- New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis and Julius Randle will be a potent frontcourt duo, more people should be talking about their pairing.
- Denver Nuggets: The case can be made for them to be a higher seed, but it’s hard to make the argument for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs for several seasons. 😉
- San Antonio Spurs: They’ll take some time to gel, but DeRozan, Murray, and Aldridge will get them in the playoffs. Can DeMar turn it on when the postseason arrives?
Up next is Kyle Hartwick whom I owe cause he got me into writing for another Laker site before finding home here.
- Warriors: With the addition of DeMarcus Cousins, look for the Warriors to surge* after he returns from his injury.
*surge, meaning that they might not lose a game ever again
- Thunder: The best acquisition of the 2018 offseason might be the subtraction of Carmelo Anthony from this team. A returning Roberson will give them defensive stability and make them a force to be reckoned with in the West.
- Rockets: Call me a hater, but I don’t think the Houston Rockets from last year are sustainable. Losing Trevor Ariza and gaining Carmelo Anthony drops them to third for me.
- Pelicans: Anthony Davis had a monster season in 2017-2018, and I expect him to do much of the same. The addition of key role players to surround him will get them close to home court advantage in the playoffs.
- Jazz: I don’t know, man. These last three are all really tough to order for me. The Jazz seem to be the most stable of the three but could get killed with injuries.
- Blazers: I think that all three of these teams make the playoffs, but I don’t particularly believe in any of them. Portland clearly has issues with their two guards.
- Nuggets: I don’t think I’ll ever buy the Jokic hype. Not until he wins a ring or has an MVP caliber year, but the Nuggets will edge out the Spurs and a surprising Suns team to claim the last spot.
Hi, my name is Kendrew.
- Warriors: This team should not be allowed to exist outside of the Olympics. There will be question marks regarding DeMarcus Cousins and his health post Achilles-tendon rupture, but a team with Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green is more than enough to be the best team in a conference
- Rockets: Losing Trevor Ariza is going to be an issue for this team. As much as the Lakers have looked unfavorable in terms of their off-season acquisitions, Houston did not do much better. What does adding Carmelo Anthony, Brandon Knight, and MCW really do? Still, they have James Harden, Chris Paul, and Mike D’Antoni.
- Thunder: Maybe the year together will have Paul George and Russell Westbrook on the same page. Maybe Andre Roberson being healthy will be helpful. Maybe not having Carmelo can be helpful as well. I liked the moves that OKC made and it’s hard to doubt Russ.
- Jazz: I love Donovan Mitchell despite how corny that ROY campaign thing was. I love revitalized Ricky Rubio. Rudy Gobert once called someone Majin Buu. This is a good team. Honestly, I can’t wait to see more playoff Ingles.
- Lakers: The freakout with how the Lakers approached the team construction post-Lebron James is pretty overblown. The Lakers’ shooting woes won’t be as dramatic as fans seem to make it. There will be a lot of growing to do for the team, but it’s going to be fun.
- Spurs: Gregory Popovich is the greatest coach of all time. DeRozan, Aldridge, Murray, and Lonnie are going to be interesting. I think Poeltl is going to be a very underrated pickup as well.
- Pelicans: Anthony Davis and Julius Randle is going to be so fun. Anthony Davis is going to have another crazy season again. The reason I have them so low is because I don’t know how they will be without Rondo, and also because of injury concerns.
Timberwolves: I really don’t know. KAT is great. Wiggins should have a good season and if they can somehow keep Butler, I think that this team is at least going to be in the conversation for a playoff berth.Nuggets. Jokic, despite being a subject for debate in the NBA twittersphere, is a genuinely good player. With Gary Harris and Jamal Murray and a pretty decent supporting cast surrounding them, I’ll take them to take the last spot over Portland.
Hey, I’m Honi. I did this after Kendrew so I could introduce myself.
- Warriors: They have Stephen Curry. And Kevin Durant. And Klay Thompson. And Draymond Green. And DeMarcus Cousins.
- Rockets: They are going to be much worse than last season without Ariza, Mbah a Moute, and JB Bickerstaff but CP3 and Harden are the most talented duo outside of Oakland.
- Thunder: Depth is an issue but Westbrook, George and Adams make for a strong trio. Roberson being back could take the Thunder back to the elite defense they played with him on the court last year before he was injured.
- Lakers: There’s a lot of questions about the supporting cast and they are all fair. Who knows if the young guys will develop enough to become a contender this season? But on the other hand, LEBRAWWWWN JAAAAYYYYYMES
- Jazz: I really like this Jazz team despite my online nemesis being the entire state of Utah. But I don’t think they had a sustainable run last season. Mitchell was great but he’s a second-year player expected t o carry the offense. Gobert is dope, though.
- Pelicans: Anthony Davis is going to play center most of the year. Julius Randle is going to continue proving people wrong (miss you, buddy). Jrue Holiday is going to keep stealing Damian Lillard’s lunch money.
- Nuggets: Finally, the most beloved lottery team of all time actually makes the playoffs. They’re a really talented team and if Millsap actually stays healthy this year, they can make some legitimate noise outside of just scoring a bunch of points.
- Blazers: They will have one really good month in the regular season that propels them over the Wolves and Spurs. Screw the Wolves and Spurs.