NBA Western Conference Off-Season Recap 2017-18
Hopefully, everyone got some nice insight into the 2017-2018 season as far as the off-season moves that went on over the summer for the Eastern Conference in my first segment posted yesterday over at thesportsdegens.com. After getting to research the Western Conference moves, I must say I feel way more strongly that the Eastern Conference were involved in way more moves this off-season (at least noteworthy), but nonetheless, we know the West contains the “Super Teams.” So, this article will also be helpful in showing the new faces and moves from the summer in the West, but also will most definitely be interesting as well as there were some more “Super Teams,” created over the summer as well. I will now be focusing on the Western Conference off-season moves and thoughts that occurred over the summer in this article. My plans for after this article will be to do another article with my predictions for conference champs, playoff predictions, glimpses into which rookies should be interesting to monitor, and more. So, without further ado, let us begin with the Ole West!
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Major Losses: None
Summary: When it seems like there is virtually no more ways to go up for the reigning NBA champs, they go out in the offseason, grab a few bench-beefers, and resign basically their whole squad from the championship team (that mattered). This team got even deeper over the summer, not much deeper with just the two gets of Casspi and Young, but it should only benefit this “Super Team,” even more in the 2017-2018 basketball season. The Warriors bench was basically the best in the business last season, and they got a few extra pieces to throw out on the floor whenever needed for the new season. Will this team repeat? They should. The team is still just unimaginably great and I was very skeptical last season before the Durant signing that how would this team chemistry be affected by another star being added? Well, the answer to that was it worked out pretty damn well, and the Warriors found a way to let the balance (while also consisted of letting whichever star that was hot that night basically take over the game) of their team work to their advantage on a game to game basis. Even when Durant went down with the knee injury, it didn’t put much strain on this team. Once again, will be stupid good, although there are a few other teams in the West who are building a “Super Team.”
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Summary: The Spurs found some nice young talent to run their offense in Dejounte Murray last season, to help take some of the strain from Kawhi and Aldridge. They also went and added some bench depth in Rudy and Joffrey to solidify their 2nd unit. Not to mention, they still have the veteran leadership of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili that every team needs. Also, on the back end, they drafted a couple great picks with White and Blossomgame in the NBA Draft, so this team isn’t going anywhere in the West, they have a great coach, a team that will be way more familiar with each other as this is the 2nd year after getting the PG situation situated last season, as well as the bench additions in which was one of their weaknesses in my opinion last season. So, as always, don’t sleep once again on a Pop team and they will definitely be in the mix once again.
Summary: The Rockets did happen to give up quite a bit in the CP3 trade, but at the same time they added a star facilitator into their starting lineup. Patrick Beverly is an absolutely compassionate and good player, and I have always liked him much, but let’s face it, he is no Chris Paul here. When looking at what else the Rockets gave up as far as the two bigs and the journeyman Lou Williams, it’s a bit…meh. They were able to go out and pick up some nice bench fillers in Tucker and Black, while also adding Quarterman who will also aid the 2nd unit, so I’m not mad at what the Rockets have done here. They are solid on both units and they should be able to most definitely compete in the brutally good Western conference this season. Don’t need to mention it, but they did finish 3rd last season, and I could really see them giving the Spurs some run here for that second spot and battling Golden State.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Summary: I really do not know how this season will turn out for the Clippers to be flat out honest. There are a ton of new faces here. They grabbed a steal in the draft with Jawun Evans, got a hefty amount of young, and seasoned players from the Rockets for Chris Paul, so, the pieces are there. Let me say that. The bench is meh. Do I think they will be fine-tuned and ready to compete with the rest of the West this season? Not likely. I do not see this team winning 50 ball games this season, and I would likely say 42 will probably be a stretch. Blake Griffin will once again be the focal point, Gallinari adds another great scoring threat, and between Pat Bev/Austin Rivers running the offense, I see it being mediocre at best, especially running with some of these offensive juggernauts that the West has made. Down year coming for the Clippers in my opinion.
Summary: My main reason to like this Jazz squad is that they are deep. They lost their major star in Gordon Hayward, but they knew that from the beginning of last season. Picking up Ricky Rubio I think is a good fit. I think he can be a slow-down, grind out PG that the Utah Jazz usually like to have as they were one of the slowest tempo teams in the NBA last season. I think Donovan Mitchell will absolutely have the change to gain more minutes and could even crack the starting line-up if Rodney Hood can’t get his scoring going and we saw he struggled a bit last season as far as on the offensive side. Nonetheless, their bench is solid. They have guys who can play Utah Jazz style of basketball and it will really just depend on the team chemistry and how they progress throughout the season. They have veteran leadership that can step in in Joe Johnson and Thabo Sefolosha on the 2nd unit, while also have some nice young guys in Jerebko, Exum, and Burks who can aid the 2nd unit as well.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Summary: The starting unit for this squad will have to carry the team if they have any hopes at a Western Conference championship, and that is a far stretch in my eyes. They are trying to build their own “Super Team,” in Oklahoma City and who is mad about it? Not this guy. I am very interested to see how the big three here work together. Could it turn into a major successful operation like KD/Steph/Klay/Dray? Sure. It could, but which one takes over? Who is the alpha male? Russ? That would be my guess. All this is fine and dandy and this will make for some very interesting battles with the Warriors/Rockets/Spurs, but their bench is going to hold them back. A bench that is featuring Ray Felton, Patrick Patterson, and Kyle Singler just doesn’t exactly appeal to my sensations. Believe the Thunder will finish well above .500, but still a 4-5 seed in the West, in my opinion.
Summary: I feel sorry for this team, I really do. I can’t get behind it, and they will need a nice draft next season, with a few major adds in the offseason if they want to compete in the West. Conley and Gasol are the heart and they are studs by all means here, but they just do not have much else to go around. Evans and Parsons are injury prone, they lost two great veteran leaders in Vince Carter and defensive stud Tony Allen. The bench is trash, I just hate seeing this for the Grizz, because I live close to Memphis and they are one of my favorite NBA teams, but it is what it is. They are rebuilding though obviously, not so sure how, but they are.
Major Adds: Anthony Morrow, Zach Collins (Draft 1st round, 10th pick), Caleb Swanigan (Draft 1st round, 26th pick)
Major Losses: Festus Ezeli, Tim Quarterman
Summary: For a .500 finish last season, they didn’t make many offseason moves other than drafting two 1st rounders, which is not a bad thing at all. They will have Nurkic back fully this season and I for one will be very interested to see him play a full-length season (hopefully), and of course you have one of the most ballin’ backcourts in the NBA with McCollum and Dame Lillard, so you cannot go wrong there. Mau Harkless and defensive stud Aminu round out a very solid starting squad for the Blazers. The 2nd unit will be worth monitoring as they did add the two-young stud bigs from the draft to accompany the likes of Ed Davis, Meyers Leonard, and Noah Vonleh. Their interior is solid for sure. I like this Portland team to be quite honest, but as far as competing with teams like the Warriors/Rockets/Spurs, once again, it’s just men playing with boys. They will finish better than the 8th seed though in my opinion this season.
Major Adds: Paul Millsap, Trey Lyles, Tyler London (Draft 1st round, 24th pick), Monte Morris (Draft 2nd round, 51st pick)
Major Losses: Danilo Gallinari
Summary: Losing Gallinari may perceive to be a bad thing for this Nuggs squad, but I think it’s more the opposite, as this gives Wilson Chandler the solid starting nod at the 3-spot now. This team should once again be a DFS dream with the likes of Chandler/Millsap/Jokic in the frontcourt in altitude. It will be LIT. One thing I am not crazy about is Jameer Nelson starting at the point, but we all know Jamal Murray could absolutely over-take that position. I also really like this secondary unit with the combo of Will the Thrill Barton, Faried, and Mason Plumdog. This team will trend up this year from their 40-42 finish last season, I am not certain how much, but I could see them running with some teams.
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
Major Losses: Tim Frazier
Summary: The Pelicans were very quiet over the summer. They snagged a nice pick up in Frank Jackson, while also getting some veteran leadership with Tony Allen and Rajon Rondo. Could this be the fit that Rondo needs? I do believe he could have double digit assists in just about any game he plays with the likes of the star-studded combo of Boogie and AD. I do think the Pelicans trend up as well this season, as their 34-48 record last season was mainly an experiment after the Cousins transaction. Now, they have pretty much a season under their belts and should be well recognized about how their schemes will go. I think adding Rondo in there is a very nice thing, and they also added depth to the bench with Jackson and Allen, so it will be interesting to see how they fair this season in the crowded West.
Major Adds: Josh McRoberts, Dennis Smith Jr. (Draft 1st round, 9th pick), Max Kleber
Major Losses: DeAndre Liggins, Jarrod Uthoff
Summary: OH Dallas….another weak season ahead, folks. They just do not have the firepower in this roster to compete with the studs in the West and for that we say let the tank begin. Got a nice 1st rounder in their new starting PG with Smith JR. Got a little bench help with McRoberts in the frontcourt, and picked up the monster German in Kleber, but all in all, just really can’t find a reason to think this team finishes about 40 or so wins.
Majors Adds: De’Aaron Fox (Draft 1st round, 5th pick), Justin Jackson (Draft 1st round, 15th pick), Harry Giles (Draft 1st round, 20th pick), Frank Mason lll (Draft 2nd round, 34th pick), George Hill, Vince Carter, Zach Randolph
Summary: Talk about a team that lost a bunch, and gained even more over the span of last season and the summer. I am super pumped about this Kings team this year. Although, mostly filled with high-end draft picks, they did add some solid veterans in George Hill, Vince Carter, and Z-Bo to help shape these young guys. They are super deep, but super young. The vets should help out tremendously, especially with Z-Bo and Vince coming off the bench for the 2nd unit. This team reminds of a mirror image of the Sixers with just a few more 1st round picks on the roster. I think they will win 38+ ball games this season to be honest, and I wouldn’t be overly surprised to see more. They have the talent, they have a good coach, and they have some nice added veteran leadership they didn’t have with Boogie, Rondo, etc. I really think this squad could be solid in the next 2-3 years.
Summary: This team will be a DFS juggernaut this season and don’t even @ me on this, folks. Thibs is notorious for running his players longer in games than most coaches, and for DFS purposes we know that more minutes equals more opportunities for fantasy points. Wiggins was a part of my $30k winning lineup on DraftKings last season, so I will definitely be repaying the favor and using him a ton this season along with a lot of T-Wolves. To get to how I feel they do in real-time, they can compete. Not as deep as I would like, but they have potential certainly. Plenty of potential to come off the bench in Jamal, Bjelica, Dieng, and even Tyus. Not to mention a nice stationary piece in Cole Aldrich, along with the addition of the young gun Patton. I like the Wolves this season and could easily see them vying for the 7-8 seed in the West.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Majors Losses: DeAngelo Russell, Timofey Mozgov, Nick Young, Tarik Black, David Nwaba
Summary: This should be another exciting team to be involved with in DFS this season and they have assembled a decent squad basing their future successes on the skills of Lonzo Ball. They went out and got Brook Lopez and KCP to add to their starting lineup and I like these moves for the most part as I feel they are upgrades at both spots. Zubac should be interesting once again, and Clarkson will have his rare stat-filled games as well, so I do see some DFS value in this 2nd squad as well, but for real-life, we are not looking at much once again for this Lakers squad who finished 26-56 last season. Maybe slightly improved.
Major Adds: Josh Jackson (Draft 1st round, 4th pick), Davon Reed (Draft 2nd round, 32nd pick), Alec Peters (Draft 2nd round, 54th pick)
Major Losses: Leandro Barbosa
Summary: One thing the Suns did do this offseason was not lose anyone, at least anyone overly important, but also they added some more young depth to their squad. Another team that fits the bottom of the barrel in the West theme that has tons of high-end draft pics, they hopefully will at least be DFS relevant once again with the likes of Bledsoe/Booker/Warren. I expect Jackson and Reed to see plenty of minutes and hopefully will become studs at the next level as well, as they should get run on this 2nd unit for sure. Nonetheless, the Suns finished dead last in the West with a 24-58 record, and well, we can only hope they trend up from that.
That will do it for the second installment of my offseason recap pieces! The West has a ton of young talent on the lower-mediocre teams, but to be flat out honest, it’s going to be very hard to beat the Warriors/Spurs/Rockets, and then even after that with OKC, but I do think most of these young teams will compete hard and hopefully will only get better. Once again, very interested and excited about the 2017-2018 NBA season! It should be one for the books (as far as DFS goes, thank god for Late Swap coming back!!). Hope everyone enjoyed this recap of the Western Conference and my next piece will be my predictions for both conferences as far as playoff seeds, conference champs, MVPs, and more! Have a great day!
– THE MITCH