Bottom half of the Western Conference
With the front runners of the NBA Western Conference being listed last week, there are still 10 more teams left in the conference that were not talked about. Even though not all are playoff contending teams, there are a few more teams that were not mentioned that have the potential to fight for a playoff spot that didn't make it last season.
Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies have a solid 3-2 record, sitting as the fifth seed in the West. Morant brings a spark to the game that we have seen in an NBA veteran like Lakers Guard Russel Westbrook. His explosiveness and leadership truly resembles Westbrook’s style of play, but in the eyes of many, to an even greater extent. From his improved shooting, to the way he pushes the ball up the floor, Morant has the potential to become an All-Star this year. Jaren Jackson will be returning from injury this season as he looks to add onto his stellar play. The Grizzlies will surely need him if they wish to avoid the play in tournament come playoff time.
Next, taking a look at the Portland Trail Blazers and star guard Damian Lillard. Many Blazers fans are worried because their beloved star and the rest of the team cannot seem to get off the roller coaster and find any rhythm. Lillard is in a shooting slump no one has ever seen him in during the first few games of the season. Averaging 24.6 points a game last season, throughout five games he has only averaged 16.4 points a game. Blazers fans should have nothing to worry about. The season just kicked off and there are still plenty of games left to play for Lillard and the Blazers to get back in rhythm. C.J. McCollum, however, has shown that after a season ending injury last year, nothing is getting in his way. Throughout the last three games he has scored 28, 20 and 25 points, adding onto Lillard’s 16.4 points per game. This duo still has a lot to prove in the West if they want to hold a solid spot in the playoffs this season.
With five teams being mentioned last week, three more teams will fill the top eight seeds in the Western Conference to conclude who will make the playoffs, not including the play-in games the last few teams have to play to qualify. With the Grizzlies and the Trail Blazers already being mentioned, the Minnesota Timberwolves are looking like they have finally started to click with chemistry and show their true colors throughout the early start of the season. Tied for the third seed in the east with a 3-1 record along with Dallas Mavericks, Timberwolves star big man, Karl Anthony-Towns has had enough of the media slander. The media has always portrayed this team as “wasted talent” because they always seem to find themselves at the bottom of the west every season, even with the talent that they have. Early on already through four games they have shown improvement. Their transition defense has improved tremendously from last year and their scores, Sophomore forward Anthony Edwards and veteran guard D’Angelo Russell have picked up the pace as well with their roles. With the free agent pick up of former Clippers guard Patrick Beverly, he has been at the forefront of the improvement of the defense. He brings a different kind of energy on defense, truly getting into players' heads and the team loves it. They roll with it and will continue the fast pace of the game they have been performing at.
These three teams definitely have something to prove and have the potential to top the Western Conference this NBA season. There are still a lot of games left to play, but the league cannot count these teams out just yet with how well they have started off.