It’s that time again! I host the Western Conference Fanalyst Rankings and Miami Heat blogger @mia_Heat_Index offers the fanatical replies. You can view his Eastern Conference Fanalyst Rankings along with my replies HERE.
One note: I did these before the Spurs walloped on the Thunder. Oops.
1. OKC Thunder: 33-10. This is the premier team in the west for now. They have lost to the Cavs and the Rockets in preceding days/weeks, but the tandem of Westbrook and Durant is too productive, James Harden on the wing, Collison, Serge “Blocked Shots on Blocked Shots” Ibaka is a force to reckon with. However, the Spurs are nipping on their heels.
MHI: Kevin Durant’s productive on the offensive end, but he needs to be more productive on the defensive end to keep opposing small forwards off the glass and force them into more turnovers. The Thunder rank 23rd when it comes to opposing small forwards’ production.
2. San Antonio Spurs: 28-13. When this team is healthy, they are dangerous. Throw in the deadly coach Popovich and the Spurs will give the Thunder a run for the WCF winner crown.
MHI: If blowing the Thunder out at home is “nipping on their heels”, then I don’t know what the Spurs have to do to be ranked 1st in the West.
3. Los Angeles Lakers: 27-16. Well, despite what Dwyane Wade inferred with his loyalty tweets, Lakers just got better. Pau was made a co-captain, which will help with his assertion among the team. They traded away Fisher and retained Sessions and are a candidate to make a deep run into the playoffs. The point guard position was one that they needed great improvement on and they have gotten better.
MHI: Shaq has called out Mitch Kupchak several teams for not having the courtesy of calling him before he was traded and I’m going to do the same here. Nothing good will come from Mitch Kupchak’s bitchassness. Ramon Sessions makes the Lakers two wins better than they were with Fisher but that isn’t enough to make them better than the Spurs.
4. Memphis Grizzles: 24-17. The Grizz have been on a resurgence since the All-Star Break. They have some of the best defense in the league and have pulled together during a time when they were without Zach Randolph. Can they keep up among winning teams??
MHI: Mike Conley and Tony Allen may form the best defensive backcourt in the NBA and that’s a good thing when the three best teams in the West have all-stars in their backcourts. If Zach Randolph can improve the frontcourt from an average offensive group to one of the best in The Association, then my pre-season prediction about the Grizzlies may be proven wrong.
5. Dallas Mavericks: 25-20. Although Dallas won’t be heading to the NBA Finals this year, they are still in the hunt for the playoffs, despite Lamar Odom’s sensitivities.
MHI: Mitch Kupchak’s bitchassness is at the root of Lamar Odom’s sensitivities and ALMOST pisses me off enough to predict the Mavs will beat the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs… ALMOST.
6. Houston Rockets: 24-20. Houston has really put forth their best foot this season. By best foot, I mean they flop quite often, however, they are able to win games against the killer Thunder.
MHI: The race for the last playoff spot in the West is disgusting. Between Kyle Lowry’s bubble guts, Rubio’s blown up knee and Paul Allen’s preparations to sell the Blazers, the Rockets will probably crash land in the playoffs one flop at a time.
7. Denver Nuggets: 24-20. This team needs an identity and stat. They traded away a complacent Nene for an undisciplined McGee and to make room for Wilson Chandler. This team has all tools……
MHI: Let’s be honest – the Nuggets traded Nene for JaVale McGee to boost the ratings of The Association on NBA TV in hopes of getting it back on ESPN. They’ll make the playoffs for “basketball reasons.”
8. Los Angeles Clippers: 24-18. They have skidded since the All-Star break and since losing Billups. They needed a SG and received Nick Young. Only time will tell if Nick will be a heartache for L.A. or prove to be productive.
MHI: Your hate for the Clippers is bottomless. Chauncey’s NBA career is dead and it’s not coming back. Get over it. There’s no way Lob City is only the 8th-best team in the West – even with Nick Young dragging down the quality of the roster.