The NBA season is upon us and there are several teams eyeing the Championship prize. Here we look at the NBA Western Conference ahead of the 2021 season. We’ll be chatting through the key contenders with nods to some player moves, new faces and the occasional reference to the teams that have no hope ahead of the new campaign.
NBA Western Conference 2021
The Pacific Division
We urge all Sacramento Kings fans not to be upset as we write you off at this early stage. It’s nothing against you but, boy, do you have your work cut out. The Los Angeles Lakers are the team to beat here. They obviously have LeBron James, who is up there in the GOAT conversations, but it’s not all about him. Russell Westbrook is a huge signing and will play a big role along with James and Ant Davis. Also in LA are the Clippers; they’re no mugs either. Can they realistically mix it up with the other big boys when Kawhi Leonard is going to miss the lion’s share of the season? We’d say no.
The other teams worth touching on in the 2021 NBA Western Conference – the Suns and Golden State Warriors – have their hopes pinned on two men who excelled last season. For the Suns, it’s all about Chris Paul. There are other players on the roster that will need to contribute, of course, but if Paul doesn’t deliver near the level he set last season then they might as well stay at home. It’s the exact same story for the Warriors; the only difference being their key man goes by the name of Steph Curry.
The Southwest Division
We’ve just looked at the heavily competed Pacific division so thought we’d change pace and turn our attention to the most predictable division in, probably, the entire NBA. Who is that? The Dallas Mavericks – obviously. Any team that boasts Luka Doncic has to be taken seriously as a Championship contender. He’s not out on the court all by himself though because Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway are capable of delivering quality too.
In all honestly, we could move on now but we won’t. The Memphis Grizzlies are probably the next best thing in the Southwest division in the NBA Western Conference 2021, with Ja Morant likely to come under the spotlight. The other point of interest in this division is Jalen Green; the second overall pick arrives in the NBA off the back of an impressive spell in the G League. He’ll immediately come under pressure though because, by and large, the hopes of the Rockets is on his shoulders.
The Northwest Division
Last season Utah Jazz had a stonking points differential of +9.2, which was three better off than the next team (the LA Clippers). It’s not a perfect measure by any means but it gives you some insight into the fact they’ll likely be a force again this year. They’ve had a rather subdued off season, which has drawn criticism from some but it could actually serve them very well in the season ahead; consistency is key.
They’ll need to be damn good to top the Northwest though. There is a certain Nikola Jokic on the Nuggets roster who makes them the team to shoot at. Jokic, who won last year’s MVP award, is a class apart and players like Jamal Murray could prove enormous too – providing he stays fit. As for the other teams here, meh. They are nothing to write home about; that said Damian Lillard is a joy to watch so at least the Trail Blazers’ loyal fans have that.
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