By Rahul Lal
In a wild offseason, many stars transitioned over to the Western Convention. We noticed Paul George and Carmelo Anthony be a part of Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma Metropolis. Paul Millsap left Atlanta to group up with budding celebrity Nikola Jokic in Denver, Jimmy Butler reunited with former coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota, bringing alongside a couple of veterans to fill out a younger squad. All in all, the Western Convention is stacked, and basketball followers ought to anticipate probably the most aggressive seasons in years.
Right here’s a breakdown of every workforce by division, with a unfastened projection of the place they’ll find yourself by season’s finish.
Watching Paul Millsap play alongside Nikola Jokic is a website to behold. The Nuggets play such an eye fixed-opening model of basketball, virtually harking back to a Barcelona soccer match. Anticipate a gentle improve in manufacturing out of Jamal Murray and the newly prolonged Gary Harris. Scoring gained’t be an issue in Denver, however protection may. General, this Nuggets group is on the rise within the West and tasks to a prime-six seed.
The Wolves have been a troublesome staff to peg — they’ve added in celebrity Jimmy Butler, together with Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford whereas holding on to key guys not named Ricky Rubio. Karl-AnthonyTowns will proceed to get higher, if that’s even attainable, and Andrew Wiggins continues to be a very strong participant. The Timberwolves ought to get it collectively, it’s only a matter of whether or not it takes 15 video games or 30. Anticipate them to be within the 4 to 6-seed vary come playoff time.
Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder
The Thunder made an enormous splash within the offseason, buying each Paul George and Carmelo Anthony from their undesirable conditions in Indiana and New York, respectively. In fact, questions have to be answered about how ego battle and shot distribution will work out. However it’s an unimaginable feat to accumulate two stars with out giving up any first-spherical picks, and shedding two large contracts. I’d anticipate them to be an analogous tier as Like Minnesota and Denver, OKC will in all probability be a decrease-seed playoff workforce subsequent April.
Portland Path Blazers
The Blazers may be on the surface wanting in because it pertains to the playoffs this yr. They’re an excellent staff, however outdoors of final yr’s acquisition of Jusuf Nurkic, they haven’t actually improved. They could wrestle to be higher than final yr given the speedy rise in competitors…