Editor’s Note: These rankings are decided on this week’s win/loss record and where Chris thinks the teams will ultimately end up. Feel free to voice your comment below or Tweet Chris @cwmwrites.
So how deep is the Western Conference? So far, four teams from out west (Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and the Clippers) are teams I view as legitimate title contenders for the Larry O’Brien trophy. Two others – the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns – have exceeded expectations and are playing exciting basketball. Throw in the still dangerous Houston Rockets and the surprisingly solid Portland Trail Blazers Dallas Mavericks and you already have a deep eight team playoff field. This should bread solid basketball all season when these teams matchup and I’m dying to see how Minnesota and Golden State match up. And these rankings should change from week to week – so hop along for the ride now before it’s too late.
1. Golden State Warriors – Current Record: 8-3
Golden State is quite possibly the second best team in the NBA right now behind the Indiana Pacers. They are deep, can score and are playing slightly better defense than a year ago. They may struggle for a bit while Stephen Curry is out with an injury, but don’t expect them to struggle too much.
2. San Antonio Spurs– Current Record: 9-1
Old reliable comes in at number two. The Spurs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Get used to seeing them near the top. No matter how much it annoys you.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves – Current Record: 7-4
I am in love with this Minnesota team. They play fast, play above average defense and Kevin Love is playing out of his mind. I have feeling that their play now is close to how good they actually are. Sorry Knick and Laker fans.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder – Current Record: 7-3
Russell Westbrook coming back far better earlier than expected saved them ton from unfair criticism. They are still struggling to find their footing (and a consistent third scorer) but they should be fine. But is this how good they really are?
5. Los Angeles Clippers – Current Record: 7-4
They score, score and did I mention that they score? Chris Paul has to be one of the early MVP leaders at this point, but the edges are still a little rough. I’m excited to see how they even out.
6. Houston Rockets – Current Record: 7-4
I could score on James Harden right now. Okay that’s not true, but you get the point. They are horrible on defense. Plus, Omer Asik trade talks hang over this team and will for a while. Personally hoping Atlanta and Houston can work out a deal centered around Paul Millsap and Asik. That’s a win-win for both teams.
7. Portland Trail Blazers – Current Record: 9-2
I’ve been impressed by Portland thus far. Mo Williams is playing great in his new bench role and Damien Lillard is looking like a two-way player than I ever thought he would. Progress!
8. Dallas Mavericks – Current Record: 7-3
First off, Monta Ellis has been far better than I expected. Secondly, DeJuan Blair and Dirk Nowitzki has given Dallas a solid front court duo – something they have not had since Tyson Chandler left for the brighter lights of New York after they won the title in 2011.
9. Phoenix Suns – Current Record: 5-4
They are better than anyone expected and Eric Bledsoe is proving to be starting caliber point guard. Maybe they run out of gas at times, but they seem to be on the right path. Once again, with emphasis: Progress!
10. New Orleans Pelicans – Current Record: 4-6
Outside of Anthony Davis turning into the new Tim Duncan before our eyes, this tteam is dysfunctional. Jrue Holiday has been abysmal, Tyreke Evans hasn’t been much better and they haven’t found a middle ground between good and horrible. And their mascot is still scary.
11. Memphis Grizzlies – Current Record: 6-5
I haven’t like what I have seen so far in New Orleans. Outside of Anthony Davis, no one has played well. Jrue Holiday has yet to really find his bearings and is getting far too deep into the lane off pick and rolls. Behind Davis, I think they will figure it all out, but their season could easily go the other way. Plus, Pierre the Pelican is scary.
12. Los Angeles Lakers – Current Record: 5-7
Kobe Bryant has been cleared to participate in all basketball activities and is going to play sooner than later. This means we are one step closer to seeing Bryant and Nick Young go shot for shot. The Lakers may not win, but we will.
13. Denver Nuggets – Current Record: 4-6
Denver is looking for a middle ground between what Brian Shaw wants them to be and what their personnel dictates that they should be. This is clearly not the team from a year ago.
14. Sacramento Kings – Current Record: 2-7
This roster is just built to be horrible – it’s just not functional any way you look at. Maybe there was a plan put in place a long time ago knowing that the 2014 NBA Draft would be loaded and the Kings are secretly savvy. But probably not.
15. Utah Jazz – Current Record: 1-11
So when Ty Corbin gets fired, can Jerry Sloan come back to coach from his advisory role? Not likely, you say? Okay then. Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker is going to look great in purple.