Los Angeles Lakers, (41-12)… A.
Frank Vogel and LeBron James have done a tremendous job of getting this team focused to play every night. The Lakers have great chemistry and a nice mix of veterans and young players. James and Anthony Davis are the best 1-2 punch in the NBA. They are averaging 51 points, 16.9 rebounds and 14 assists per game. Kyle Kuzma and Avery Bradley are starting to understand their roles and they are playing much on offense. Danny Green and Dwight Howard have been great on both ends of the court. This team is a legitimate contender to win the title. If Kuzma can be that consistent 3rd option, they could bring another championship to Staples Center.
Denver Nuggets, (38-17)… B+.
The Nuggets are a very well-balanced team but, they don’t have a legitimate number 1 option on offense. Nikola Jokic is the best big man in the NBA. He averages, 20.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists. The question for the Nuggets is can they outscore the Clippers, Rockets, Jazz or Lakers in the playoffs?
LA Clippers, (37-18)… B.
The Clippers appear to be coasting through the regular season. Kahwi Leonard is taking games off to rest and Paul George has played in 33 of their 51 games. This team is built for the post-season. The acquisition of Marcus Morris Sr. will give them another big, strong, defender who can shoot the three and guard LeBron James in a 7- game series. The Clippers only get a B rating, but they are the deepest, most talented team in the Western Conference.
Utah Jazz, (36-18)… C.
Mike Conely is being paid $32 million this season and $34 million next year. He is averaging 13 points per game and 4.2 assists. Ricky Rubio was a lot better in Utah and didn’t cost half as much. Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic are averaging 45 points combined. Rudy Gobert is averaging 14 rebounds and 2 block shots per game. Jordan Clarkson has been a very good, offensive spark, off the bench. This team could be dangerous in the playoffs. Quin Snyder is a very good coach.
Houston Rockets, (34-20)… C-.
The Rockets are playing small ball. They are using, 6’5 PJ Tucker, as their starting center. This philosophy could win games in the regular season, but it won’t advance them to the Western Conference Finals. We have seen the Mike D’Antoni show run its course. He coaches one side of the ball and in the playoffs, you must get stops in the 4th quarter. D’Antoni will be fired at the end of the year
Dallas Mavericks, (33-22)… B-.
The Mavericks are fun to watch. They are young and growing on the court right before our eyes. Luka Doncic is averaging 28.9 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game. Kristaps Porzingis is averaging 18.4 points and 9.1 rebounds as well. The Mavericks still need a #3 scoring option but, if they stay healthy, they will be a tough out in the playoffs.
OKC Thunder, (33-22)… B-.
Billy Donovan has done a tremendous job coaching the Thunder. OKC traded Russell Westbrook in the off-season, and they may be better without him. the Thunder have 4 players who are averaging more than 17 points per game and Steven Adams is getting a “double-double” every night. Adams averages 10.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. I don’t think this team will make a deep run in the post-season but they are feisty and very well coached.
Memphis Grizzlies, (28-26)… B+
Memphis has been the surprise team in the NBA. Ja Morant could be rookie of the year. He is averaging 17.6 points and 7 assists per game. The Grizzlies have 12 players averaging 6 points a game. They are young, talented and a few years away from being a force in the Western Conference. This team has overachieved, and they could make the playoffs. No one saw that coming.
Portland Trail Blazers, (25-31)… D.
The Portland Trail Blazers have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA. They went to the Western Conference Finals last season and they are in series jeopardy of not making the playoffs in 2020. Damian Lillard has been the best point guard in the NBA, he is averaging 29.5 points and 7.9 assists. This is a team that has tremendous talent but has Terry Stotts lost the locker room?
SA Spurs, (23-31)… C-.
Gregg Popovich is still one of the best coaches in the NBA but, there is no talent on this roster. The Spurs continue to try and build through the draft. Their best option would be to not make the playoffs and get a lottery pick.
New Orleans Pelicans, (23-32)… C-
Zion Williamson has played in 10 games this season and is averaging 22 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. This team is built for the future with their young talent, but they have underachieved as a team. They should be better than Memphis but they are not. Brandon Ingram has become the teams’ number 1 option. He is averaging 24 points per game. New Orleans should part ways with head coach, Alvin Gentry. He has a career record of 480-553. In 16 years of being a head coach in the NBA, Gentry has one 50 win season.
Phoenix Suns, (22-33)…C-.
This team has three young, talented players. Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre and Deandre Ayton. They are averaging 63 points and 22 rebounds per game. Ricky Rubio is averaging 9 assists and spreads the ball around. This team should be better. If they don’t make a 2nd half push towards the post-season, expect changes to be made from top to bottom.
Sacramento Kings, (21-33)…D.
The last time Sacramento made the playoffs was 2005-2006. This is a team that continues to fail with their draft picks, picking coaches and general managers. It might be time to re-organize the entire organization again.
Minnesota Timberwolves, (16-37)…F.
Karl -Anthony Townes is averaging 26 points and 12 rebounds per game. He is now partnered up with his best friend, De’Angelo Russell. The T-Wolves will give these two all next season to make a playoff run.
GS Warriors, (12-43)…D.
Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry have been out for the season with injuries. Golden State could get a top 3 pick in next year’s draft. That is a scary scenario for the Western Conference.
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