The West looks strong again in 2022 and like last year we can make a strong case for this side of the bracket producing the eventual NBA finals winner. Most of last year’s playoff teams look likely to at least reach the “play in” tournament, with the notable exception being Utah who has traded virtually all their veterans.
It should be a better year for Los Angles this time around and we expect much more from the Clippers and the Lakers. The Clippers should be at full strength this time around and if LBJ and Anthony Davies stay fit the Lakers could surprise a few.
Anyway here are our divisional predictions together with our final Western Conference Playoff Bracket.
The big story in the Northwest is the Utah Jazz and their tear-it-down and start again close season. They have traded away most of their starters and it is only a matter of time before Mike Conley joins the exodus. With Rudy Gobert now at divisional rivals the Timberwolves and Donovan Mitchell, Patrick Beverley, and Bojan Bogdanovic gone, Utah is likely to finish bottom of the division.
Given the Thunder will be without No 2 draft Pick Chet Holmgren this season the Northwestern division looks like being a straight fight between Minnesota & Denver. The Nuggets signed Nikola Jokic to a multi-year and with extension three of Michael Porter Jr. & Jamal Murray alongside him. should prevail and a 50-plus win season is in the offing.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are in a win-now mode having mortgaged their future to acquire Rudy Gobert. They gave up a lot to get him but he will improve their defense massively. They returned to the playoffs last year after a four-year absence and barring injuries should be there again.
The LA Clippers had injury problems last year, but now at full strength look as good as any team in the NBA. Kawhi Leonard & Paul George head the roster but there is plenty of depth there too. They will need it as this looks like a very competitive division.
Last year’s champions Golden State have kept the core of their team together, however, they have lost both Otto Porter & Gary Payton II. Their bench is considerably weaker without these two even if their starting five are as good as any. They will be a threat again but maybe a repeat is a dribble too far.
The Lakers had a bit of a disaster last year. They ended up missing the postseason entirely and are being overlooked this year. Much of last year’s woes was down to injuries and if Anthony Davises can stay on the court in 2022 they should make the play in places at least. Le Bron James is still playing at an elite level and if he gets some support they could make a run. It’s a big if though.
The Southwest looks interesting this year and there could be a dark horse or two lurkings here. What we can say for sure is that Neither the Spurs nor the Rockets look like contending. They should fight it out for the wooden spoon in 2022. The Grizzlies & Mavericks both lost to Golden State in the playoffs, however, both have improved.
Memphis had a good draft and we are looking forward to seeing how Jake LaRavia plays in his rookie season. He had an impressive final year and will add some shooting prowess off the bench.
Jake LaRavia & Santi Aldama link up on the lob 🐻
*Dillon Brooks likes what he’s seeing*
Live Now on ESPN 2 pic.twitter.com/Y2AdrI3iZ5
— NBA (@NBA) July 12, 2022
They also held onto Ja Morant all be it at a considerable cost.
Dallas reached the conference final last year largely thanks to an outstanding effort from Luka Doncic. He is still there but Jalen Brunson has headed off to the Big Apple via the Nicks so repeating the feat will be hard. Still, they should at least make the first round in 2023.
The Pelicans are a bit of an enigma. They made the playoffs last year despite having Zion Wiliams sidelined due to injury. Did they overachieve last year? Possibly but if Williams stays healthy then they will be cntenders. The issue is will he?
The Rockets & Spurs are still rebuilding so don’t expect too much from either.
Western Conference Predicted Finishing Order
Portland Trail Blazers
Oklahoma City Thunder
Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers
New Orleans Pelicans
San Antonio Spurs
1 LA Clippers
2 Golden State Warriors
3 Denver Nuggets
4 Memphis Grizzlies
5 Phoenix Suns
6 Minnesota Timberwolves
7 Dallas Mavericks
8 Los Angeles Lakers
9 New Orleans Pelicans
10 Portland Trail Blazers
Play in Round One
Los Angeles Lakers over Dallas Mavericks
New Orleans Pelicans over Portland Trail Blazers
Dallas Mavericks over New Orleans Pelicans
Western Conference Round One
LA Clippers over Dallas Mavericks
Golden State Warriors over Los Angeles Lakers
Minnesota Timberwolves over Denver Nuggets
Memphis Grizzlies over Phoenix Suns
LA Clippers over Minnesota Timberwolves
Golden State Warriors over Memphis Grizzlies
Western Conference Final
LA Clippers over Golden State Warriors
NBA Finals Winner
LA Clippers over Philadelphia 76ers 4-2
While you are here why not check out our Eastern Conference Prediction.