NBA playoff predictions
Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger (center right) and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Photo Credit: David Roark, photographer)

NBA Playoff Predictions: Western Conference


On March 11th, the NBA suspended the 2019-2020 season due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. On June 4, the NBA’s Board of Governors approved a proposition to restart the 2019-20 season that should see it resuming on July 31st.


The season reboot will consist of 22 teams playing an eight-game seeding schedule at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. The teams involved include 13 teams from the Western Conference (Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets, Jazz, Thunder, Rockets, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Suns, Spurs) and nine teams from the Eastern Conference (Bucks, Raptors, Celtics, Heat, Pacers, 76ers, Nets, Magic, Wizards).

Since the NBA has yet to release the schedule for the season restart, we are going to take a look at the current playoff bracket and predict who will land where.




1) Los Angeles Lakers (49-14)

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Before the season was suspended, the Lakers dominated the Western Conference with a 49-14 record. LeBron is on his “Washed King” ring-chasing campaign, and honestly, I don’t think there are many people who can stop him. Anthony Davis will be healthy since he’s had plenty of time to nurse his injuries, and when he’s healthy, he’s a problem for opponents. The Lakers also added Dion Waiters after the All-Star break, giving them the playmaking scorer they need when both LeBron and AD are off the court. He should fit in nicely with the pieces the Lakers already have. The only “problem” the Lakers need to address is Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma was a steal for the Lakers when they traded D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for his rights in the 2017 draft. His production throughout his stint with LA has been high, overall. However, he hasn’t had the time to mesh with the team and produce at his best since his injury. If the Lakers can find a way to fit Kuzma and Waiters into the rotation, their chances of tasting championship gold again are closer than ever.



2) Los Angeles Clippers (44-20)

NBA playoff predictions
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The Clippers were the big winners of free agency this summer and have proven to be far more than Los Angeles’ “second team” with their play this season. With the additions of 2x Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last offseason, it already seemed as if the Clippers had assembled a real contender. But then during the season, the Clippers added Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson to the mix. Furthermore, they already had Patrick Beverly, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and Landry Shamet at the end of their playoff run last season. If you count just these players alone, you have eight quality guys that play a significant role in playoff rotations. With everyone at full power, the Clippers look unstoppable, and they might just be that.



3) Denver Nuggets (43-22)

The Nuggets have been one of the best regular-season teams during the past two seasons. This season, they’ve lived up to the hype that they built themselves last season, but they need to find a way to translate that to the playoffs. The Denver Nuggets now are similar to the Toronto Raptors of the East during the five years before landing Kawhi and winning the chip. They’re a team that plays at an exceptionally high level during the season, but fail to produce in the playoffs when it matters the most. One thing I like about the Nuggets is their uniqueness. Their the only team in the league that has a 7ft point guard in Nikola Jokic. With their guard-heavy depth, the Nuggets are an outstanding team, but they aren’t the team to beat in the West. Even when the season resumes, the Nuggets will maintain their spot in the top three because they are the current team to host the “regular season curse,” but they won’t make it out the second round if they even make it past the first round.



4) Oklahoma City Thunder (40-24)

The next five seeds vary. It’s as simple as a trainwreck. The Oklahoma City Thunder are the dark horse of the Western Conference. They are one of those teams that surprised everyone this season, and I can see them fighting their way up to the #4 seed. They currently sit at 40-24, one game behind Utah. With a healthy Chris Paul and a bright young star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder have a chance to take teams to the limit.



5) Dallas Mavericks (40-27)

Luka Doncic is the next face of the league, period. He is a dominant force at whatever situation he’s put into, and he’s proven himself to be a once in a lifetime talent. Luka is next up, but his time isn’t now. He has a decent supporting cast with Kristaps Porzingis, Seth Curry, and Tim Hardaway Jr. Just like the Nuggets, the Mavs are good, but they aren’t there just yet. They’re good enough to make the playoffs, just not a legitimate run.



6) Houston Rockets (40-24)

Photo Credit: ABC13 Houston

The Rockets have underachieved this season, but what could they have done? The Lakers and Clippers drastically improved this season, and the Rockets swapped CP3 for Westbrook and Clint Capela for Robert Covington. The center-less Rockets fall to the #6 seed in my rankings because if Harden isn’t at his greatest, the Rockets have no chance. They’ve been down this road multiple times this decade without a ring to show for it. If the Rockets don’t become more versatile offensively and establish a defensive presence, I only see problems in the remainder of the season and the playoffs.



7) Utah Jazz  (41-23)

Utah falls so low on my list because of the blow COVID-19 dealt to the team’s chemistry. Who truly knows if the Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell’s relationship will ever return to what it was before? Furthermore, when it comes to playoff basketball, the Jazz can’t get past the second round. They added Mike Conley to improve their defense, but other than that, the Jazz are the same team as they were the past two years. Mitchell needs players like Joe Ingles to step up in prime time for the Jazz to have the slightest shot.



8) Portland Trailblazers (29-37)

Photo Credit: NBA

The Blazers are going to sneak into the playoffs, and here is the reason why: Damian Lillard. The deadly duo of Lillard and CJ McCollum will be unstoppable, especially when a playoff spot is on the line. Role players such as Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, and Jusuf Nurcic, if healthy, will provide the scoring boost needed. If you had to choose between Damian Lillard, Ja Morant, D’Aaron Foxx, DeMar DeRozan, or Devin Booker, the obvious choice would be Damian Lillard. His clutch gene is unrivaled among these players…that’s why the Trailblazers will end up running away with the 8th seed just to end up getting swept by the Clippers in the 1st round.

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Mike Dancy II

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