• Landon Buford

Landon's Top 8 in the West

The 2014-15 Western Conference was dominated by the eventual NBA champion, Golden State Warriors. With the Dubs in control of the number one spot from the tip, other squads battled for the other seven spots. One game separated the second seed from the sixth seed and SEVEN teams ended the season with 50+ wins. So yeah, the West is damn good, but that was last year…what happens now?

1. San Antonio Spurs

*Photo via Getty Images

I still can’t figure out how the Spurs were able to land David West and the heir apparent to Tim Duncan; LaMarcus Aldridge They are definitely the favorites to win it all in the Western Conference this year and maybe even next year. I can’t wait to see what lineup combinations Gregg Popovich has in store this season. The Spurs are my favorite to land home court throughout the Western Conference playoffs.

2. Los Angeles Clippers

*Photo via USA Today

The Los Angeles Clippers are my sleeper to win it all! Now, I know my fellow Los Angeles Lakers fans do not want to hear that, but this team is stacked at every position. Offseason additions of Lance Stephenson (cover your ears) adds much needed depth at on the wing and Paul Pierce solidifies the small forward position for the first time since they traded Caron Butler to the Phoenix Suns. This is also the year Chris Paul has to prove that he belongs in the superstar category that the public and the media has placed upon him. I see them as the second seed of the Western Conference.

3. Memphis Grizzlies

*Photo via AP

The Memphis Grizzlies are my three seed in the West. They have minimal weaknesses and added grit-n-grind All-Star Matt Barnes. The Grizz have one of the best front lines in all the NBA; as the Smash Bros, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, anchor the team down low while Mike Conley leads the attack from the perimeter. Gasol is a former Defensive Player of the Year and Z-Bo is a double-double machine. Memphis is the one team nobody ever wants to face.

4. Golden State Warriors

*Photo via USA Today

The defending champion Warriors slip all the way down to four?


Yeah really, it’s my ranking!

Yes they were able to win it all last year, but they had incredible health while their opponents had some misfortune; Jrue Holiday, Mike Conley, Patrick Beverly and Kyrie Irving were all injured. That’s every starting point guard the faced en route to their date with Larry. With all that being said yes they will make the playoffs this year, but it’s not going to be a cake walk. They were the only team last season to not deal with a major injury in a year in which the entire league was injury prone. They may make the Finals, but will have to do so as my fourth seed.

5. Houston Rockets

*Photo via Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are another team that is stacked at every position. The addition of Ty Lawson at lead guard will help take ball handling pressure off James Harden and introduce another playmaker into Houston’s offense. In addition, Patrick Beverley can be used in a different variety of situations on the court and if Dwight Howard can return to the defensive presence that made him a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. They are slotted in the fifth spot, but make no mistake about it, Houston can win it all.

6. Oklahoma City Thunder

*Photo via AP

At six, I have the Oklahoma City Thunder back in the playoffs with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook leading them there. As a healthy duo and with Russell Westbrook’s emergence last season, I can see this team making a deep playoff run this year. Serge Ibaka has been improving his game every season and I can’t wait to see what he has added to his game this offseason. In addition, I want to see Dion Waiters show why he was a top selection just a couple of years ago. This team needs him to be a poor man’s Harden off the bench.

7. New Orleans Pelicans

*Photo via USA Today

With the largest contract of the offseason, Anthony Davis will again lead his team to the NBA Playoffs, this time as a seventh seed. And I might be getting ahead of myself here, but he will be holding the Most Valuable Player Award in the next couple years. Anthony Davis is the best up and coming big man in the league and he is letting the league know every time he steps on the court.

8. Los Angeles Lakers

*Photo via USA Today

With the eighth and final seed, I see the Los Angeles Lakers surprising a lot of critics and sneaking into the playoffs this year. Kobe Bryant will be coming back healthy, but I don’t see him being the deciding factor only due his decline in his age. Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle are my sleepers to lead this team back to relevance. And with the offseason additions of Lou Williams, Roy Hibbert, and Brandon Bass, it’s not going to be an easy task to deny this team a spot in the postseason. This team will be very motivated to send Kobe Bryant into retirement if this indeed is his last finale with a bang.

#LandonBuford #NBA #Playoffs #prediction