2021-2022 NBA’s Western Conference Standings Prediction

After a wild season last year, the NBA is going back to normal with a regular 82-game schedule. The Western Conference is stacked and there’s no telling how the standings will end up.

Now that the NBA has released their schedule for the season, it’s time to dive in for some fun.

1. Los Angeles Lakers (57-25)

After an injury-riddled season that contributed to a first-round exit last season, the Los Angeles Lakers bolstered their roster by adding players like Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and many others. Despite the fact that they’re the oldest team in the NBA, they easily have the best roster in the Western Conference and perhaps maybe even in the league.  The Lakers are on a mission this season to reclaim their top spot in the West, and it begins by getting the number one seed.

2. Utah Jazz (56-26)

Despite having the best record in the NBA last season, you shouldn’t expect that to happen this year. After a disappointing postseason, the Utah Jazz made underrated moves during the off-season, which included signing Rudy Gay, Hassan Whiteside, and Eric Paschall.  Just because the Jazz are ranked number two in my standings, it doesn’t mean that they got worse. It simply means that the rest of the Western Conference got better.

3. Denver Nuggets (53-29)

Even with Jamal Murray‘s ACL injury, you could bet on the Denver Nuggets to have a successful regular season. With MVP Nikola Jokic leading the way, Denver will always contend for at least a top-four seed in the conference. On top of that, their depth is extremely well-rounded, as they have players like Michael Porter, Aaron Gordon, Will Barton, and Monte Morris. Even though a lot depends on how Murray returns from his ACL injury, expect Denver to be the third seed.

4. Golden State Warriors (50-32)

With the way their roster is constructed, the Golden State Warriors will once again be a threat during the regular season. Stephen Curry will continue to play at an MVP level, and they added a few solid players like Andre Iguodala and Otto Porter. They may not make the best start, however, once Klay Thompson makes his return at around Christmas time, expect the Warriors to make a late run to end up fourth in the Western Conference.

5. Dallas Mavericks (49-33)

The Dallas Mavericks are always going to be in the playoff picture, as they have a 22-year old superstar in Luka Doncic. Despite having Doncic, Dallas doesn’t have much else in order to take their team to the next level. Kristaps Porzingis is the number two option perhaps? The main question is whether or not he can stay healthy. For the most part, the Mavericks are returning with a similar roster. Overall, it’s good enough to keep them in the top five of the conference.

6. Phoenix Suns (49-33)

I know I’m going to get a lot of criticism for this one. How could the reigning Western Conference champs be sixth this year? To answer that question quickly, the rest of the conference got healthier and better. I’ll give them credit for making the NBA Finals, however, they had the third-fewest missed games last season in a season that the injury bug was absolutely dominant in. They could prove me wrong for all I know but I need to see it before I believe it.

7.  Los Angeles Clippers (47-35)

Despite Kawhi Leonard being out for most of the season, I expect Paul George to have an MVP-like season. Along with George, they have a relatively strong supporting cast, as they have players like Eric Bledsoe, Serge Ibaka, Terance Mann, Reggie Jackson, and. Justise Winslow. Without Leonard in the postseason last year, George averaged 29.6 points per game. Solid roster, coaching staff, and chemistry. Expect the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA playoffs, even without Leonard.

8. Portland Trail Blazers (46-36)

It seems like the Portland Trail Blazers have the same team every year. They still have Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic. Despite that, this is still a team that doesn’t play much defense. This is still a team that relies mostly on Lillard. Lillard came out and expressed his interest and loyalty to the Blazers. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t get much help this offseason. I expect this team to barely make the playoffs. They’re better off breaking this roster apart to get some value while they’re worth something.

9. Memphis Grizzlies (44-38)

After making it to the NBA playoffs with a 38-34 record, it’s safe to assume that the Memphis Grizzlies will at least be back in the play-in tournament. They didn’t go all-out in the offseason but did they add a nice piece in Steven Adams. On top of that, you can expect a player like Ja Morant or Jaren Jackson. to take a step forward next season. If the Grizzlies can stay healthy throughout the year, I expect them to make a pretty solid jump from last season. The ninth seed for them is a safe bet.

10. New Orleans Pelicans (40-42)

Like the Grizzlies, the New Orleans Pelicans have plenty of young talent. On top of that, they added players like Devonte Graham and Jonas Valanciunas. That being said, they did lose a key piece in Lonzo Ball. Statistically speaking, the Pelicans with Zion Williamson played better when Ball was on the court as opposed to without him. The conference is stacked and the Pelicans didn’t do much to significantly improve their overall team. I think the 10th seed is fair for them.

11. Sacramento Kings (38-44)

The Sacramento Kings haven’t done much that has suggested to me that they should be higher than the 11th seed. No disrespect whatsoever to the Kings but seriously, what have they been doing? Every year when I make these predictions, I feel that I’m always ranking the Kings at the same place every single year. They have some nice young pieces like De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley, and Tyrese Haliburton to start off with. But other than that, they don’t have much. Another year, another season with about 34-38 wins.

12. San Antonio Spurs (35-47)

It’s crazy to think that team coached by Gregg Popovich would end up 12th in the conference. The being said, they do have some young players like Dejounte Murray, Jakob Poeltl, and Keldon Johnson to work with. On top of that, they have a few solid veteran players like Thaddeus Young and Derrick White. The San Antonio Spurs could exceed expectations if any of their young players take a massive leap. For now, I think the 12th seed is just about right given how competitive the conference is.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves (32-50)

When healthy, the Minnesota Timberwolves are not a terrible team. When their big three is out there (Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Anthony Edwards), they actually outscore their opponents by a margin of +6.5. The potential has always been there but a huge issue for this time has been defense. Minnesota ranked 27th in defensive efficiency last season and if they don’t make any strides on that end of the court, expect this team to once again be in the bottom of the pack.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder (23-59)

The Oklahoma City Thunder have obviously sacrificed their short-term success with the amount of first-round picks they have going for them. Oklahoma City does have a rising young player like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to work with. Despite that, this season is going to the absolutely rough for them but that’s okay! The Thunder and their fans don’t have many expectations for this team because this team is trying to build for the future. This is going to be a very young team who is going to play their hardest out there every night. I appreciate that much.

15. Houston Rockets (20-62)

Like Oklahoma City, the Houston Rockets have a few young players to build on. Players like Jalen Green and Kevin Porter are going to be exciting to watch. The last-place team in this Western Conference is honestly a toss-up. Despite that, Houston is going to be fun to watch regardless of how bad their record is going to be. Who knows, perhaps Houston exceeds my expectation, as it’s definitely possible that they could end up winning 30 games? I don’t think there’s an argument here.

 

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