We have determined the top 5 teams in the Eastern Conference and now we head out west. The Denver Nuggets cut down the nets and finally won the first championship in franchise history. Denver had an impressive run in the playoffs on their way to defeating the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Can the Denver Nuggets run the Western Conference and make another NBA Finals trip? Who will step up and challenge Denver for the Western Conference crown? Phoenix pulled off the big trade by bringing in Bradley Beal to make their Big 3. Golden State continues to hover around and they’re hoping Chris Paul still has gas in the tank. The Los Angeles Lakers made a lot of upgrades to their team this offseason. Who are my top 5 teams in the Western Conference heading into the season?
As mentioned, the Denver Nuggets come into this season as the reigning, defending NBA champions. Nikola Jokic is the best player in the league. Jokic walked away as the 2023 NBA Finals MVP last season. Jamal Murray is someone that can score with the best of them. In their playoff series last year against the Suns, I’ve said he can score just as good as Devin Booker. Michael Porter Jr. emerged as one of the better defenders in the league. Porter Jr. can defend any position on the floor, and he’s developed a nice jump shot also. Aaron Gordon is another great defender with length on the floor for the Nuggets. They did lose Bruce Brown in free agency, and this could hurt because he was a key piece. Denver also has a couple of veterans in Reggie Jackson and Justin Holiday.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers were swept in the Western Conference Finals a year ago. Lebron is looking for his 5th ring as he enters his unprecedented 21st season. Los Angeles made a lot of moves throughout the offseason to strengthen this team. They retained the services of potential All-Star Austin Reaves. Reaves signed a four-year extension to remain with the Lakers. Rui Hachimura also signed an extension to remain with the team. The point position was solidified with D’Angel Russell resigning and bringing in Gabe Vincent. With Anthony Davis wanting to play power forward, the Lakers brought in a pair of big men. Jaxson Hayes and Christian Woods were brought in to help with defense at the rim. The health of Anthony Davis and Lebron James will be key to this season. If they remain healthy, they could challenge for the top spot out west.
As mentioned before, the Phoenix Suns brought in Bradley Beal. When you put Beal with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, this upgrades the team. The Suns did have to part ways with Chris Paul in the process. With Durant, Beal, and Booker having huge contracts, the Suns had to fill out their roster with cheap players. In the process, they also parted ways with DeAndre Ayton. Phoenix added veteran guard Eric Gordon. Gordon will bring another veteran, but he can still score also. Phoenix didn’t add any big-name guys, but they will fit this team perfectly. Yuta Watanabe was a solid reserve for Brooklyn. Watanabe played alongside Durant, and he will be great for Phoenix. Josh Okogie opted to stay in Phoenix on a cheap one-year deal. Keita Bates-Diop and Chimezie Metu also signed cheap deals for a chance at a championship.
Golden State Warriors
Golden State is looking for a chance for their 5th championship. The Warriors were eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals by the Lakers last season. Steph Curry is still at the top of his game and one of the best players in the league. Draymond Green is dealing with an injured ankle to begin the season. Klay Thompson is looking for another contract and he will be on a mission to get it. In the offseason, the Warriors dealt Jordan Poole to Washington for Chris Paul. Paul will bring another veteran presence to this team. Andrew Wiggins has fit in nicely with this Warriors team and he will continue to do so. Dario Saric is a great addition to this team. Saric will help in the front court. Cory Joseph is another great signing for the Warriors. Jonathon Kuminga will need to have some meaningful minutes for this team.
Memphis Grizzlies are my 5th team in the Western Conference. Sacramento, Oklahoma City, Dallas, and the Clippers could be vying for a top-5 spot. Memphis had a lot going on during their offseason. First off, Ja Morant is suspended for the first 25 games of the season. The Grizzlies upgraded by not signing Dillion Brooks and trading for Marcus Smart. Jaren Jackson Jr. will need to step up even more after learning Steven Adams will miss this season. Brandon Clarke and Desmond Bane will need to step up in the absence of Morant. Derrick Rose was brought to the Memphis Grizzlies and they’re hoping he can provide a spark. Xavier Tillman Sr. is another name that the Grizzlies will need to get a lot out of this season. Memphis could be higher if they are hovering near the top when Morant returns.
Trav’s Top 5 Western Conference Teams
- Denver Nuggets
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Phoenix Suns
- Golden State Warriors
- Memphis Grizzlies