With the 2022-23 NBA season now over 1/2 complete under-performing teams can stop using the “it’s early” excuse. At this point, the teams you have are what they are. Of course, the trade deadline can change that for a select few, but generally speaking this point – what you see is what you get. In the NBA’s Western conference there are more than a few shocking revelations. All you have to do is go back to the 2022-23 preseason odds for the Western conference to see how wacky this season has been.
- Golden State Warriors
- Preseason odds #2 overall
- Currently #6 in the Western conference
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Preseason odds #5 overall
- Currently #7 in the Western conference
- Phoenix Suns
- Preseason odds #6 overall
- Currently #10 in the Western conference
- Sacramento Kings
- Preseason odds #27 overall
- Currently #3 in the Western conference
- Utah Jazz
- Preseason odds #30 overall (dead last!)
- Currently #8 in the Western conference
The NBA’s Western conference has never been as wild or weird as it has been this season!
At this point the conference can be broken down to 4 sections, each has teams separated by about 3 games. Lets name these sections, “The Worst”, “The Questionables”, “The Very Good” and “The Contenders”.
The San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets are the leading Western Conference contenders in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. With any luck, Wembanyama will be a Texan next year! The bottom dwellers are separated by 3.5 games.
Are these teams good, or are they bad? Are they over-performing, or under-performing? The answer for most of the teams in this ugly section is YES to all the above. The answer just depends on the day. These teams are just as likely to go on a 5 game winning streak as they are to drop 5 in a row. No NBA franchise has tormented their fans as much as the teams in this woebegone section. The teams include the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers. Shockingly, these 8 teams are separated by just 2 games!
This is the most interesting group in the conference, in my opinion. It’s possible that one of these teams wins the Western conference. It’s even possible one of these teams lifts the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the season. Of course, it’s also possible these teams do nothing but switch positioning in this section all season long and never sniff the WCF.
The Very Good
If you live outside of Sacramento and predicted that the Kings would be in this section at the start of the season you need to buy a lottery ticket. The Sacramento Kings are joined by the New
Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks in this section. They are separated by only 2.5 games, but admittedly are only 1.5 games above The Questionables. So, yes, these teams have proven to be very good, but this season that means less than it has in the past. This is a precarious perch that each of these teams may be knocked out of before the end of the season.
While this is also true for the teams below them, it is teams in this section that would most benefit from a really good trade. The right addition to any of these teams would be enough to catapult them to…
The top 2 teams in the Western conference are separated by 1.5 games. They have both gone 9-1 in their last 10 games to further separate themselves from the rest of the conference. They are the only 2 teams in the conference (along with the Kings) at or above .500 on the road. These two teams are undeniably the cream of the Western crop at this point in the season. Yet, neither the Denver Nuggets nor the Memphis Grizzlies strike the kind of fear into a team that past top teams have. Both, in short, seem to be beatable.
But so far in the wild, weird West it is the Nuggets and the Grizzlies that have earned the top spot and have bragging rights. Where they stand at the end of this crazy season is anyone’s guess.
- Making Sense of the Weird Western Conference - March 12, 2023
- What a Weird and Wacky Week in Los Angeles - March 4, 2023
- Los Angeles Clippers v Sacramento Kings: Incredible Game, Incredible Shot-making, Incredible Collapse - February 25, 2023