Predicting the Western Conference Playoffs
8. Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota has an extremely talented roster, but the pieces just don’t quite fit together. In a game where spacing and versatility are more important than ever, the double big-man combo of Karl Anthony-Towns and Rudy Gobert makes little sense. Nor does the pairing of Towns and Anthony Edwards, who despite playing different positions, have very similar weaknesses. On paper, the Wolves are a contender, but I don’t expect them to realize that potential the way the roster’s constructed.
7. Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC fell just short of a playoff spot last season as the third-youngest team in the league. With all that young talent on their hands, they can expect a significant jump this year, especially if Chet Holmgren shows off the work, he’s been putting in during his time off. With pressure to succeed for the first time in years, expect that the Thunder plays to their full potential.
6. Golden State Warriors
Whether or not they’re still viewed as title contenders, Golden State hasn’t had an amazing regular season since the Kevin Durant days. There hasn’t been anything to convince me that they’ll change that this year, as their core has only gotten older with time and the addition of the 38-year-old Chris Paul.
5. Memphis Grizzlies
The last two seasons have seen Memphis finish as the second seed in the conference, but they may take a step back this year due to Ja Morant’s 25-game suspension. Aside from that, however, the front office has built a capable roster that should be able to maintain a steady pace in Morant’s absence, and hopefully gain some ground once he returns.