May 1, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies fans during the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in game six of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum. The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 104-84. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis Grizzlies: Top 4 Seed?

As we inch closer and closer to a can’t-miss regular season, the Western Conference continues to look as deep and competitive as any this league has ever seen.

Quick question: on April 1, would you have rather had the Phoenix Suns or the Indiana Pacers? … See what I mean? If you’ve seen Game of Thrones you’ll know what I mean when I say, “This year’s Western Conference playoffs will look a whole lot like the Red Wedding.”

So where do the 2014-15 Memphis Grizzlies rank among this cast of heavyweights? Here’s an early prediction of the top 4 seeds.

1) San Antonio Spurs The 2014 champs return the entire roster after re-signing Tony Parker and Tim Duncan to deals that should take them through the end of their respective careers. Coach Pop is back, Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard is back, Manu Ginobili is back. It’s time we stop writing this team off.

2) Oklahoma City Thunder The Thunder went into the offseason with one glaring need — shooting. San Antonio showed the entire league that a lot can happen for you if the five players you put on the floor can all make open shots. Oklahoma City for the last three years has relied on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to imagine the shot, create the shot and make the shot or it wasn’t happening.

The need for more reliable shooting to spread the floor was paramount, and this summer they got their shooter. Anthony Morrow doesn’t do a ton of things well, but he shoots a basketball better than some people breath. The question is, “Will they stay healthy?”

3) Los Angeles Clippers Blake Griffin returns with many predicting that he will be a candidate once again for MVP honors. Griffin has elevated his game year after year taking the necessary “jumps” along the way to becoming one of the true bona fide stars in this league.

With the Donald Sterling debacle behind them the Clippers have a lot to build on and a lot to grow from. Key additions at backup point-guard (Jordan Farmar), and backup center (Spencer Hawes) give Doc Rivers more flexibility with crunch-time lineups. Playing Hawes late in games when teams like to put Deandre Jordan on the free-throw line could end up making that signing look genius.

4) Memphis Grizzlies “Wake up! You, yes, you… Wake up!” This is me to national media when it comes the 2014-15 Memphis Grizzlies. This team isn’t good — this team is great.

It’s important to note that when healthy last year Memphis went 40-19. Marc Gasol over last few seasons has had his share of games spent in suits, which always spells trouble for this team on both ends, but if Dave Joerger and this staff can get between 75-80 games from this starting unit, look out.

The Grizzlies add depth with Vince Carter and Jarnell Stokes along with Jamaal Franklin. The added challenge of competing under a rookie head coach is now gone and Coach Joerger has a system, both offensively and defensively, that enables this team to compete with any roster in the NBA.

Memphis will have to fend off the likes of Portland, Dallas, Golden State and Houston who will all be gunning for home court advantage. Will it be easy? No. It’s going to be a blood bath. But if healthy they have all the makings of not just a gatekeeper out West, but a threat to the throne in a grand game of thrones.

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