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The Roar


Battle to be best in West wide open with 10 teams in running to make NBA Finals

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Roar Rookie
28th March, 2023

The NBA regular season is heading into the final stretch of games for every team. The Western Conference is one of the hardest to precict we have ever seen.

There is a possibility of almost all of the remaining team in the race being able to be competitive for the playoffs.

Here is a rundown into what these 10 teams can and can´t do in the playoffs and what might hold them back from finishing on top.

Dallas have dropped out of the top echelon of contenders while Portland have slumped the past two weeks to fall out of the playoff picture altogether.

Denver Nuggets

Key players: Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter jnr, Aaron Gordon.
Role players: Bruce Brown, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jeff Green.

Denver are the favorites to make it out of the west after they have pretty much locked down the first seed. Leading the way is MVP contender Nikola Jokic with his incredible control of the offence. This is the first season since 2020 that the team is healthy for the playoffs with Murray and Porter coming back.

The Nuggets are rated second in offensive rating with 118.5 and ranked 15th in defensive rating. The big test might be Gordon’s ability to defend the other team’s best player.

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 18: Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets passes the ball against the Charlotte Hornets during the first half at Ball Arena on December 18, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)

For the Nuggets to get the 1 seed is incredibly important for them as they are 31-6 at home compared to 19-18 on the road, with how hard the west is this year they need to get the home court through the western playoffs.

There is a chance for the team to play the Lakers, Warriors, or Mavericks in the first round. Even though all of those teams have been very disappointing this year it’s a whole different game in the playoffs. Let’s just hope somebody else gets the eighth seed or else it might be over just at the start for the Nuggets.

Most important for the nuggets this year is Aaron Gordon’s defense and the health of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr

Memphis Grizzlies

Key players: Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr, Steven Adams. Desmond Bane
Role players: Dillion Brooks, Tyus Jones, Luke Kennard, Brandon Clarke

The Grizzlies are one of the youngest teams in the league and currently are the second seed of the western conference. A team full of controversy because of multiple differences on the court and of the court actions but is still one of the best and most intriguing teams in the entire NBA.


We’ve seen the importance of Steven Adams when he was out for a longer period, with the lack of rebounding when he is not with the team.

For the playoffs this year, barring any controversies, this team can go all the way to the finals, with the great depth and superstar play from Morant, and the defensive leader of the team in Jackson. This team is built for a long run in the playoffs and this might be the year for the young Grizzlies.

The biggest factor for the team during the playoffs will be to stay out of controversy and keep the foul trouble low for Adams, Jackson and Brooks.

Sacramento Kings

Key players: De`Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Kevin Huerter, Harrison Barnes.
Role players: Davion Mitchell, Mali Monk, Keegan Murray.

The Kings might just be the best story of the season, with all the negativity about the Sabonis for Tyrese Halliburton trade last season they are now a chance to finish with the second seed in the West.


They are playing incredibly well offensively with new head coach Mike Brown lifting them to the best offensive rating in the whole league. The addition of Huerter proved to be one of the best pickups during the off-season.

People seem to forget that almost every year there is an inexperienced team that does make it out of the first round and it’s likely to be the Kings this time even though they probably will face a tough opponent.

The most important factor for the kings is the perimeter defense of Mitchell and Fox.

Phoenix Suns

Key players: Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton
Role players: Terrence Ross, T.J Warren, Josh Okogie, Torrey Craig

The Suns have real star power in the west with KD, CP3, Booker, and Ayton, but will it be able to work out?


We’ve seen multiple teams try to win a championship by just getting All Star-level players and putting them together without it working like the Nets and the Clippers. The suns acquiring KD at the trade deadline after Kyrie Irving got traded was quite astonishing and many pundits immediately pegged them as the championship winners.

But now after KD getting hurt and missing out on trying to get the team fully functioning before the playoffs, they’re slipping.

For the playoffs, KD will have more of a freestyle role and still depends a lot on Booker. They might be disappointing and they might just be the best team in the west. They are the biggest question mark in the west.

Los Angeles Clippers

Key players: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Russell Westbrook, Norman Powell.
Role Players: Marcus Morris, Eric Gordon, Ivica Zubac, Bones Hyland.

The Clippers are looking good even though Paul George’s recent injury means they will need to maintain their momentum to avoid the play-in games and retain the five seed.


Leonard has been looking incredible in the mid/late season just like he did before the ACL tear in the 2021 playoffs that had him out for the entire 2021-2022 season.

They might have higher belief in their own ability but it’s looking like the ageing stars on this team are getting more and more injury prone.

Golden State Warriors

Key players: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green.
Role players: Donte DiVincenzo, Gary Payton II, Kevin Looney, Jonathan Kuminga.

Golden State are having one of their worst seasons together since the start of the dynasty, mostly because of injuries but also because of their awful play away from home where they are 9-27.

Wiggins being out due to personal reasons has hurt them more than people think as Green isn’t the same defender as he was a couple of years ago.

The Warriors are unlikely to make it out of the first round without Wiggins. It’s an unfortunate way for this team to lose as their dynasty window which is getting smaller every year. The biggest factor for the playoffs is to give the ball to Curry and let him go.


Minnesota Timberwolves

Key Players: Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley
Role Players: Jaden McDaniels, Jaylen Nowell, Naz Reid, Kyle Anderson.

The Timberwolves are the seven seed in the western conference even though Towns missed 53 straight games with a calf injury.

It makes you think about what position they would be in if KAT was healthy throughout the season. Edwards has once again developed his game this season and the addition of Gobert will probably get them to the playoffs.

They will likely be in the play-in games but should have the home-court advantage if they stay seventh meaning one win at Minneapolis and they qualify.

They will play the Pelicans, Lakers, Thunder, maybe the Mavericks and less likely the Jazz.

The biggest factor for the playoffs is to stay healthy and use their size in the matchups.


New Orleans Pelicans

Key players: Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, CJ McCullum, Jonas Valanciunas
Role players: Trey Murphy III, Herbert Jones, Jose Alvarado, Naji Marshall

The Pelicans should maybe have been more competitive but because of injuries to Ingram and Williamson they have been one of the least consistent outfits.

Their playoff hopes are all in Williamson´s hands due to his hamstring from January 2. The news that is coming from the Pelicans organisation is that he still has a chance to come back for the playoffs. He is desperately needed.

Los Angeles Lakers

Key players: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Malik Beasley, D´Angelo Russell.
Role players: Austin Reaves, Lonnie Walker IV, Jarred Vanderbilt.


To be honest, the Lakers have been awful this year. Even when healthy, the team hasn’t been close to looking like a playoff contender. LeBron and AD have missing a combined 53 games. After they made some amazing moves during the trade deadline, the team looked a whole lot better for a couple of weeks but then once again the injuries came back.

For the playoffs, the Lakers will always be a threat because of their two stars but there is no way to say how long they will/can make it because of the health problems they have had this year.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Key players: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Luguentz Dort, Jalen Williams.
Role players: Aleksej Pukusevski, Isaiah Joe, Kenrich Williams.

OKC is the youngest team in the league who should be in a rebuild but because of the incredible play of Gilgeous-Alexander, they have been more than competitive. They still have all the picks from the Paul George and Russell Westbrook trades from a few seasons ago as well as No.2 selection Chet Holmgren to make his debut next season.

For the playoffs, they should soak in the experience as a precursor for seasons ahead.