Following up on our Eastern Conference 2022-2023 NBA Season Preview, today we will explore the Wild West.
How it works
We will break down all teams in categories, rating each team based on their talent level, what they have shown to be capable of in recent years and how volatile their health or team chemistry is.
- Larry O’Brien Block – teams with a real claim to the title, essentially the ones we expect to see in the Conference Finals in May/23.
- Playoff Locks – fans might believe some of the teams here deserved to be in the previous category, but they can’t all be title favorites. This category pertains to all teams that should guarantee a Playoff spot without going through the Play-In Tournament.
- Play-In Contenders – talking about fighting for a Playoff seed, the teams here have the highest variance of quality of all 4 categories. The top half of this group are legit Playoff teams. The bottom is filled with potential surprises. Whatever the case may be, this is not a category for the fainthearted.
- Wembanyama Sweepstakes – either out of the gate or midway through the season, teams here will tank. The real measure of success for their season is how high of a chance to get the #1 pick on next year’s loaded Draft.
You can watch our team’s discussion about the Western Conference here:
NBA Western Conference Season Preview https://t.co/Ht5qsgmZLb
— AfroBallers (@afroballers) October 16, 2022
Larry O’Brien Block
Positives: the reigning Champs, made great free-agency pickups, have high potential young guys set to develop sharply and should expect a bounce-back season for Curry (yes, that’s right, the Finals MVP won it all in a down year!).
Challenges: Draymond Green complete lack of emotional intelligence in full display (yet again) and how much of a strain his inconsequent actions will cause in the team’s fabric.
Positives: they are finally healthy, they are good/great in every position and they are DEEEEEEEEP! Even if Kawhi and PG13 only play around 60 games each, adding 2 All-NBA players to an already solid squad.
Challenges: will they stay healthy enough and when it matters most?
Positives: added defensive force Gobert to a team already with regular season success, a perfect complement to their offensively gifted star in KAT.
Challenges: whereas in the Regular Season they should win plenty, the Gobert+KAT lineups are primed for disappointment in the Playoffs.
Positives: Ja’s development and how great the team played even without him last season, along with another expected jump by AfroBaller Desmond Bane.
Challenges: can the team withstand JJJ’s absence and still win enough? It’s a lot to ask of their young guys in an improved West.
Positives: Jokic+Murray+MPJ+Gordon was a historically good lineup in the short time they played together, add to that mix solid role players in Bruce Brown and KCP, this team’s peak is as good as any in the legue.
Challenges: I have doubts about both Murray’s and MPJ’s continued health and about the overall team’s defense.
Positives: ZION (!!!!) along with the great team from the second half of the season.
Challenges: still unexperienced coach and team, plus who knows how long Zion will stay on the court.
Positives: the core of the 2021 Finals team is still here.
Challenges: lost to a NBL team, were destroyed by the Mavs at home in game 7, the coach hasn’t spoken to the unhappy starting C in months, CP3’s health/age, what is going on with Jae Crowder, not to mention Robert Sarver and the franchise’s sale.
Positives: Luka MVP season, the return of Tim Hardaway and an optimistic view on Wood’s addition.
Challenges: in a much improved West, one cannot overlook the fact they lost their second best player for absolutely nothing in the offseason.
Positives: a revenge Lillard season with solid additions to their core. Hart & Grant are the best 2-way wings he has ever played with.
Challenges: defense around their small backcourt, Lillard’s ability to get back to his Top-10 player level and a still unproven head coach at the realm.
Challenges: how many games will they actually play in? AAAAND Russell Westbrook with their entire league of questionable shooting PGs.
Positives: Brown’s defense and the Nigerian National team to compliment the formidable Fox-Sabonis 1-2 offensive punch.
Challenges: the longest active Playoff draught of all American Pro Sports of 16 years (and counting). If that wasn’t enough, they’re the Kings, usually something bad happens.
Positives: they are way more talented than their record suggests.
Challenges: their expertise and willingness to sit good players for better draft picks is exactly why their record has been so bad.
Positives: a very talented and exciting young core hungry to make some noise.
Challenges: they are so, so young that their rough edges will make up for plenty of losses.
Positives: after moving Murray this is an all-in development season to lock-up max chances at Wembanyama in next year’s Draft.
Challenges: currently the worst team in the NBA, but the Jazz could eventually claim that spot.
Positives: they have a few talented NBA players on the roster… for now!
Challenges: how long until their talented players are either traded or shut down for the season?