Cleat Geeks

NBA Western Conference Power Rankings ’15-16 (15-11)

It’s that time of year again everyone! My personal pre-season Power Rankings for NBA! Today I will start with the Western Conference, working from 15-11, and follow up with 10-6, and of course 5-1. The Eastern Conference will follow up soon.

WARNING: This is not a championship prediction, this is simply where I believe each team ranking prior to the season starting.

It will be team, followed by last year regular season record, followed, followed by an explanation. Let’s get started, I’ll keep it brief!

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suns15) Phoenix Suns 23-59

A lot that could have went wrong for Phoenix last year did. The split of the Morris brothers, Firing of Head Coach Jeff Hornacek after 49 games, it surely got ugly. The Suns had the 3rd highest pace in the league with the young talents they possess, but they doomed themselves giving up 107 points, and averaging a league high of 16 turnovers. So, maybe they were playing too fast? Either way, maybe the 7-1 PF Dragan Bender can prove useful and provide some assistance for Tyson Chandler (whose numbers are falling a bit). If you enjoyed watching Tyler Ulis from Kentucky, maybe this is his shot to make the defense of this team much better. As for new HC Earl Watson, he finished 9-24 last season after Hornacek was fired, but now has a much better shot with a fresh group of young guys, and a 3 year deal. However, they will not emerge as playoff contenders’ overnight.

lakers14) LA Lakers 17-65

Kobe I hope you enjoy retirement life. Now with all of the “farewell tour” madness behind the organization, it is finally time to move things forward. Luke Walton steps in after having a great 43 game run while Steve Kerr was recovering from back surgery. Although unfortunately, all wins were still credited to Kerr, for Luke to be able to control an extremely talented group of players and keep them in check on the blast off start they had, its commendable. Now, his biggest task is controlling the egos of Nick Young, D’ Angelo Russell, Metta World Peace, etc. Jordan Clarkson is one of the only bright spots having led the team in points and minutes. Luol Deng joins the party on the down slope of his career. Timofey Mozgov will prove valuable if given the minutes. Julius Randle showed incredible heart after coming back from a broken leg that ended his rookie season. The microscope however will be on rookie Brandon Ingram, with a chance to prove why he went second overall in the draft.

nuggets13) Denver Nuggets 33-49

They need defense, and lots of it. On the inside, and out. They not only let teams score 105 points on them, but they also gave up on the perimeter consistently by letting opponents shoot 37%. Speaking of perimeter play, Denver shot a terrible 33% from deep. Enter Jamal Murray from Kentucky who ranked high among collegiate 3 pointers, Juancho Hernagomez from Spain who boasts a nice all around game, and Malik Beasley who’s looking to step up. Mike Malone trusts and believes in his players, and going into his 2nd season in the mile high club, he’ll need them to believe in him to help guide them to a better record and place.

kings12) Sacramento Kings 33-49

What you see now is the failed result of the George Karl and DeMarcus Cousins combo. A highly heralded HC that could not keep things together with his budding star puts a bad taste in the mouths of some. There is some hope of light however. The Kings were 3rd in scoring last season, and FG% thanks to the great duo of “Boogie” Cousins and Rudy Gay. Willie Cauley-Stein proved valuable at both ends of the floor, with an inept ability to defend many players of all sizes. Omri Casspi is in the final year of his contract, and if he balls out this year, it could be trouble for many teams. Hard-nosed Kosta Koufos was valuable as a backup, and as a solid rim protector. Should all of this thrives under the defensive minded Dave Joerger, the Kings “might” have a chance to have a winning season for the first time in 10 years. Might being a strong might because they haven’t managed 35 wins in the 5 years.

pelicans11) New Orleans Pelicans 30-52

After what looked to be a somewhat promising uphill fight after a tough 1st round bounce 2 seasons ago, the Pelicans haven’t looked the same since. Future Superstar Anthony Davis is the most important piece of this team, and if he’s not healthy, the Pelicans struggle. It showed tremendously when newly appointed HC Alvin Gentry just barely made it to 30-52. With having one of the most complete player to come out of college in Buddy Hield, it will be a season of real turn around if the odds play in the favor New Orleans. The only problem, the West is not a “gimme” type of conference, and with all of the blue collar role players that surround Davis, they will have to step up beside him, and push this team to the next level together. Playoff seed, or not.

 

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