There are 12 teams who are still battling for the Western Conference playoffs in the NBA. New Orleans, Memphis and Phoenix are in rebuilding mode. Below are three teams to watch for after the all-star break.
#3) San Antonio Spurs, (33-26): The Spurs are 7th in the Western Conference. Gregg Popovich’s teams always gets better during the 2nd half of the season. Would anyone be surprised if they finished 4th in their conference? I wouldn’t, this could be Popovich’s best coaching job. DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge are averaging 42 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists combined per game. Derrick White is becoming a very good two-way player and this team is 1st in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage. No one wants to play the Spurs in the 1st round of the post-season.
#2) Sacramento Kings, (30-27): At the start of the NBA season, I had the Kings capturing the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Sacramento has one of the youngest, most talented backcourts in the league. Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox are averaging 40 points and 8 rebounds and 10 assists per contest. Both Willie-Cauley Stein and Marvin Bagley III can average a double/double every night. The acquisition of Harrison Barnes at the trading deadline was a homerun. Barnes is only 26-years old but won a championship with Golden State in 2015. He brings scoring, shooting and leadership to a young an upcoming team. I fully expect the Kings to make the playoffs. Even if they don’t, their future is bright under Vlade Divac.
#1) Los Angeles Lakers, (28-29): The Lakers were playing well before LeBron James went down with a groin injury but this team and coaching staff has a lot of questions that need to be answered.
Can Kyle Kuzma be a legitimate #2 scoring option, Can Rajon Rondo and often injured Lonzo Ball, give them quality, consistent point guard play. Will Luke Walton be on the Lakers bench next year?
If the Lakers don’t make the playoffs, it will be considered a colossal failure for LeBron, Magic and the Lakers brand. This team with their length, athleticism and veterans could be a “tough out” in the playoffs, but, they have to get there.
I think all three of these teams will make the post-seasons and all we be better next year with their off-season moves and maturation process.
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