Western Conference 2022 Tip-Off! Who’s Stepping up To The Warriors?

15 Min Read

Can The Golden State Warriors Be Dethroned In Western Conference?

Ryan: But the Denver Nuggets are probably down there in the Western Conference. Probably around 10th, maybe not quite that low, but if you’re gonna pick a dark horse team to win the Western Conference or even win the title. 

I think the Denver Nuggets are that team because of everything that they just add back, Jamal Murray of course takes some of the pressure off Nikola Jokic. But again, man, Michael Porter Jr. Of course he has to stay healthy, but this is a, a six 10 forward, who’s giving you like 42% from three and shooting probably in eight a game.

An amazing team if they can all be together. They got Nah’Shon Hyland last year in the draft who ended up making one of the all-rookie teams. So he, he’s been really good. It’s gonna be their backup guard and the Denver Nuggets just have a lot of different options. They still have Aaron Gordon, who was number one on a team before, probably not even the number four on the Denver Nuggets now, but he’s a guy who can give them some.

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When they need it. And then play some, good defense for them as well. And I think the Denver Nuggets can just throw a lot at you. And they have a lot of good players. They have one great player, Jamal Murray maybe even before his injury, I don’t know that he was great other than just really good.

But it’s just a lot of good players and those teams typically do really well in the regular. Because the other teams, when you just look at who they have four through 10, they just can’t match up with what the Denver Nuggets can throw at 

Matt: you. Yep. And then they added Bruce Brown on top of that, a guy who upped his three-point shooting ability from the mid-twenties to 40%. So another outside weapon they can use is a guy that can guard both the f-guard and forward position for you a big body even though he is only six foot four. 

And with his stretching shooting ability, that’s really improved over the last year. It’s just an embarrassment of riches of mid-level riches for Denver that has really helped them, especially in this early phase where they’re not gonna look their best. Obviously, you’re trying to incorporate and work Murray and Porter back into, basketball. And so like you saw in opening, opening night at Utah.

It didn’t quite go the way that people thought it would, especially with a team like Utah that looks like they’re gonna be tanking for Wembanyama. And then they go out and win game one. Definitely not what people are expected, but Denver will get there. It’s just gonna take a little bit of time, working a couple of guys back from injury.  

Really important guys too. Obviously, you’re talking about your number two and you’re number three. So it’ll take some time, but, come All-Star break and beyond. The Denver Nuggets are gonna be making some noise. 

Ryan: Yeah. And yeah, I expect them to be one of the top seeds in the west too. And I think the Western Conference is interesting because you look at so many teams and I don’t know, there’s probably three, maybe four that you could see winning the west. Different levels of the believability of course.

But if you’re just asking me like, can this team make the conference finals, that list is probably eight deep. Like it’s there are a lot of teams that I could see being better and winning. Two rounds in the playoffs. Again, different levels of believability. I’m gonna pick the Warriors to make the Western Conference finals before I’m gonna pick the Pelicans, but I don’t think that the Pelicans can’t do it.

Matt: And let’s go right there. Let’s talk about the Pelicans with Zion Williamson, and dirty KD, as I like to call ’em. They were looking pretty decent last year without Zion. Brandon Ingram was stepping his game up and he’s been underrated under the radar since going, from LA to the Pelicans.

But he stepped his game up year after year, and I think he should be one of the top, 25 players in the NBA this year. No question. He’s got everything to his game. And he just, except for the publicity, because he plays down in New Orleans, but between him and Zion, you got two guys that can go out and get you 25 to 30 every single night. 

Ryan: Yeah, you got a third guy in CJ McCollum that can do that too. And then, Herb Jones, Jonas Valanciunas. It’s a really good team that the Pelicans have, and obviously, the big factor is going to be Zion’s Health, but there’s no reason that the Pelicans can’t, again, make the Western Conference finals.

I think it’s gonna be a team that makes the playoffs, Zion. Looks more fit this year than he has in years past finally. But you add him with Brandon Ingram and then just some of the other guys that they have on the roster. Like the Denver Nuggets that we talked about, right?

They have Jose Alvarado, who made his name in the playoffs last year, harassing Chris Paul. They have Devonte Graham. You look at other guys, Herb Jones we already mentioned, but Larry Nance Junior, who’s been a good NBA. probably not his entire career, but every year after his second year, Larry Nance has been a good player.

And it’s just a lot of athleticism that they have on the team and they can hit you just with, different things. So you can go Zion at the five and run the small ball. Obviously, you can have Valanciunas out there to make you. Probably play a little bit more traditional, although Valanciunas can step outside and shoot a little bit as well.

But it’s a team that they have. They’re gonna have enough defenders, I think, or that’s probably the question is they’re gonna enough defenders and it’s a big if, but if Zion can get there defensively, he had four steals in their opening win. 

But if he can get there defensively and show off some of that defensive ability that he showed, that’s Duke and he hasn’t shown it in the NBA, but if he can get there, that’s just another guy that they can throw on the wing to make, the opponent’s life, obviously more difficult.

And his Zion’s a bad defender. Then opponents are of course gonna have an easier. Scoring against the Pelicans, but I like the team a lot. They’re gonna be certainly a fun team to watch, and I don’t think anybody’s picking them to be the best team in the Western Conference, but in terms of like your league pass rankings, they’re, they might be number one. It’s a really, really fun team to watch all year long. This is 

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Matt: crazy. We’ve just talked about five teams in the Western Conference, and we haven’t even talked about Phoenix yet. We haven’t talked about Minnesota yet. We haven’t talked about Dallas yet. So this west is stacked. Dude, like we’re talking, we didn’t even talk about the team.

That was the number one seed in the west of Phoenix Suns last year before getting blown out in game 7 82. It’s just ridiculous. And so the Suns with Ayton who’s obviously disgruntled about everything that went down with the way the season ended. Booker, can he make that next leap? Can Chris Paul continue to fight off Father time the way that he didn’t look like it at the end of the year?

Look like father time really caught up with him. Minnesota an adding Rudy Gobert to go along with Karl Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and DeAngelo Russell. Dallas, obviously Luka Doncic. They lost Jalen Brunson, but they brought back, got back Anthony, Tim Hardaway Jr. The Western Conference is full.

Dude. It’s absolutely full of teams that can really just hurt one another and take one to throw out to see who’s gonna be left standing at the end to represent the West and the NBA. 

Ryan: Yeah, I don’t know that there’s gonna be a whole lot of separation in the west between seeds like three and 10, which is, the play-in.

And then certainly not between six and 10, but the west. Is, they’re full of teams. All the teams you mentioned are teams that can absolutely make the playoffs. But just by math, two of these, two of those teams you mentioned are gonna be in the plan. And then you’re probably looking at the Lakers as a playing team as well who we also haven’t mentioned.

But it’s incredible the amount of I like, I don’t even know necessarily that it, like it, is a deep conference and I think most of those teams are good. I also don’t know how many of them, how many of the teams in the west are like the top five teams in the NBA? So the east might be better up top and I actually think the East is fairly deep as well.

But I think just in terms of the West, it’s gonna be really even, I think the Warriors are probably clear. And then the Lakers, or not the Lakers, the Clippers should be better than all these other teams that we’ve talked about. But I think everyone from like the Denver Nuggets on down is gonna be fairly similar, the Denver Nuggets should be better than the Timberwolves by a decent margin, I would guess.

But all those teams in the middle, the pelicans, the Suns, and it’s funny, we’re calling the Suns a middle team and again, they won the 60-something games last. I like it, but it’s just the way it goes. No, basketball moves quick and it seems like, know, everyone’s just riding the Suns off because of what we saw in the playoffs.

And then, yeah, again, you have another year of Luca and him only getting better per year and he seems like a guy that just nobody can deal with no matter how good of, perimeter defenders you have, It seems like Luka is gonna make them look silly. So what does that look like? 

Just with NBA experience and with another year of getting better, is he good enough to raise a team to the top like two or three seats? Like LeBron was this for his first time around in Cleveland. It’s something that we’ll hit the seat and it is something that I am obviously excited to watch. Yeah, 

Matt: Absolutely. If three through 10 are gonna be ridiculous, I don’t know how you. The Grizzlies versus the Mavs versus the Suns versus the, it’s just, they all have studs. 

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