By: Rob Botts
Stop me if you have heard this one before. The NBA’s Western Conference is good. Again. Sorry Eastern Conference squads but the only hope you guys have of taking home the title this season is if you guys don’t pull Kevin Love’s shoulder out of place. Refrain from breathing on china doll Kyrie Irving, so that LeBron James and the Cavs can stay healthy. And do your conference a solid by hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy in victory for the pride of Cleveland and the Eastern Conference as a whole. One for all, all for one. No? Ok, I get it.
Everybody’s glass is half full right now and optimism is in the air. The way it should be before professional roundball tip-off of the brand new shiny season. Optomistically speaking everybody has a shot in the east. Realistically speaking, the Cavaliers are the only team that has a shot of beating the Western Conference representative come June. Should I have said “spoiler alert” earlier? Time to go team by team.
Los Angeles Lakers: This team is very young. Kobe is back and he is ready to take shot, after shot, after shot, after shot until his right shoulder completely comes apart at the joint. Hopefully this happens before Mr. Bryant begins eating everybody’s lunches during a hell fire practice rant to come. And “Slow Roy” Hibbert thought Larry Bird was hard on him.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Listen OKC fans, you’ve got one shot at keeping both of your studs Westbrook and Durant just where they are for the foreseable future and that lies with your new had man and former Florida Gator Billy Donovan. He has to be able to really connect with them. I don’t see that happening. Just like I don’t see this team being that much better than they have been the last couple of years. Not enough talent around the 2 headed monster to win it all. Good but not great.
Golden State Warriors: The champs are in prime position to go right back to the final dance. They are in tremendous sync with one another and they are a very young and bright unit. Even with Steve Kerr pulling a Phil Jackson type coaching job from afar routine because of a bad back, it won’t hold the team back(pun intended) one bit. They have been taught how to finish and business is booming for the Splash Brothers and company who will keep on keeping on right back to the Finals.
Memphis Grizzlies: They have had one of the best font lines and interior post games in basketball for a few years now along with a tough point guard, good perimeter defense and a solid coach. All the pieces and style for a championship team. In the 1990s. We are in a time of stretch 4s and run and gun, up and down play. A time where pro’s play almost all positions and can score. This incarnation of the Grizzlies is very, very, good, but just born in the wrong era.
San Antonio Spurs: The gang will never have to get back together because they will never break up. Maybe teams should attempt to elbow the Spurs players in the head to stop them because at this point I really think that they are zombies. “The Balling Dead” will air very soon on the NBA channel. I feel like you can just copy and paste every preview for the San Antonio Spurs for the last 5 years plus and it will say the same thing. They are old and should really start to decline but most likely will not and will be one of the league’s finalists with a great shot to win it all. One difference in the usual write up? They picked up LeMarcus Aldridge.
Los Angeles Clippers: The hoarse voiced one, a.k.a. Doc Rivers, will attempt to take this production to the final stage. They have the same cast pretty much with a few new additions. AARP card carrying member Paul Pierce will add a clutch punch to the late game moments. Josh Smith will be in competition with De’Andre Jordan for the title of team’s worst free throw shooter. And Lance Stevenson will go all Lance Stevenson. This could be the main gang’s last chance to actually do something before they get taken apart. If they don’t take the next step, CP3 and Blake could go from “Lob City” to “Sob City.”
Sacramento Kings: Hopefully for the Kings sake, their reality TV summer of turmoil will turn into a serious NBA documentary about hard play and teamwork. Yeah right. Where is the fun in that? This season will not end well for all involved. You’ve got an old school, hardhead, control freak coach in George Karl. A young, extremely talented, knucklehead superstar center in DeMarcus Cousins. Then to top it off you’ve got slick, mixed messaging Vlade Divac as the GM and an owner in Vivek Ranadive, who just might try playing with 3 players just for kicks. Oh, and the fans are armed with large metal cowbells. What could go wrong? Sadly and predictably, everything.
Utah Jazz: Remember in that great Bill Murray comedy “Groundhog Day” from years ago how his character kept living the same day over and over and over again? And remember that song the alarm clock radio would play every morning to wake him up? Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe.” Over and over again. Forever. That is what the Utah Jazz are. Season, after season, after season, since Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Jerry Sloan moved on, they have been the same tune ever since. Not very good and not ever seriously considered a real threat to anybody in the west.
New Orleans Pelicans: There was a poll recently done in the NBA that asked the good old favorite, “If you had to start a team today and you could pick ONE player, who would it be?” The man that led that poll was none other than plastic man, Mr. Anthony Davis. This dude can really play and he is only going to get better. The city, his teammates, the coaching staff all believe in him as much as he believes in himself. You know what you will get from Davis, the real question is will the rest of his teammates be PeliCANS or PeliCANTS? Been around the block or two, new NBA head man Alvin Gentry is a good fit for this club and will bring the best out of the flock.
Denver Nuggets: They will be one of the bottom feeders of this loaded conference. They are very young and will have many teachable moments thrust upon them by better opponents. That is where new head coach Michael Malone will do his thing. He will be able to get these young ballers to be in the right spots but getting them to do it at the right time will be the challenge. And he is up for it. Will the team be though? No need for time to tell when I can tell you right now. No. The organization needs a clear direction and they don’t have one right now.
Phoenix Suns: No disrespect but here comes some disrespect. If Tyson Chandler is your main man after shipping everybody out of town to clear up some cash and then watching LeMarcus Aldridge sign with those Spurs of San Antonio, you are in serious trouble. The Vally of the Sun will be experiencing a massive eclipse this season where sunny days will be farther and farther apart. I think I saw coach Jeff Hornacek getting ready to suit up. What? He can still shoot.
Houston Rockets: Yes, they are a tough team that has “The Beard” James Harden who can drop a “50 burger” on you at anytime but they also still have somebody else as well. That somebody is Mr. Dwight Howard and as long as you have the most overrated center in all of professional basketball saying things like “I’m still a champion” after he is bounced from the playoffs. One quote from Drago in “Rocky 4” comes to mind: “You will Lose.”
Dallas Mavericks: While “Mr. Wonderful” cares only about money on “Shark Tank”, his fellow tanker, Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban only cares about winning. And making money. The money will always be there but the wins, not so sure. Head man Rick Carslyle is a vey good coach but his team is a bit disjointed and out of synch. As Dirk is entering his elder years, you can just feel that the franchise needs a re-boot. Sorry Dallas fans but new signees Deron Williams and Wes Matthews won’t be taking you to the promised land. With the current squad as it is, fans just might be telling Mr. Cuban that they are “out.”
Portland Trailblazers: They are like the dude that just got broken up with by their hot, longtime girlfriend that went with the better looking, more successful guy. The loss of LeMarcus Aldridge has really effected the franchise. Also, lesser ballers such as Robin Lopez and Nicolas Batum are gone as well. Yes, they still have Damian Lillard and a passionate fan base but that is not even close to enough to compete in the talented western conference. It’s Lillard and a bunch of dudes.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Did Kevin Garnett really leave the frozen tundra of Minnesota and actually go win a title with the Boston Celtics? I think that happened but I am not sure. Then I believe he made a stop in New Jersey / Brooklyn right? I know this happened because history says it did but doesn’t it just feel like he has been in Minnesota his whole professional life? The old wolf will have a couple new, young and really talented front court pups to teach how to bite effectively in the league this year in Karl Anthony- Towns and Zack LaVine. They also have Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio that will add excitement to the perimeter offense and fast break situations. They will be a fun team to watch this season.
That’s it. There it is. Your 2015-2016 NBA Western Conference preview. Balling days are here again! Enjoy everybody!