Mar 24, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) celebrates with forward Tyreke Evans (1) during the fourth quarter of a game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Nets 109-104 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Wide Open Western Conference

I bet you thought we here at Pippen Ain’t Easy was handing over the Western Conference crown to San Antonio Spurs didn’t you?

You thought after the Spurs ran LeBron James back to Cleveland that the Western Conference can stay home right?

Come on, this is Pippen Ain’t Easy! The Western Conference is wide open!

We talked Eastern Conference last night, now it’s time to talk about  the Western Conference. Again, I am not saying all these teams are going to compete for a championship, but I think they will be relevant come playoff time next season. The Western Conference is a lot harder to evaluate because every team you look at is loaded in the West. The Western Conference is at least 12-teams deep who would easily make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference and then you have other teams who would put up a good fight. So let’s jump into some teams that nobody is talking about in 2014, in the Western Conference.

Minnesota Timberwolves: 

Funny how everyone is assuming that the Timberwolves will be trading Kevin Love before the season even starts. My take on the Kevin Love trade scenario, is that the Timberwolves are going to play this whole thing out. What I mean by that is, they are going to try what Portland did last season. If you remember, LaMarcus Aldridge just last season told Portland he was done playing for them and wanted traded. Now, he is going to resign with them next offseason because they made a minor playoff run. Timberwolves could easily do the same thing, so they should just wait this whole Love scenario out until at least February and evaluate their record then.

However, today we are talking about the team as a whole. I really like Minnesota to come back stronger than last season, only managing to win 42 games last season. The best part about that win-loss record was they could of easily won 50-plus games if they were just better in close games. In games decided by 4 points or less, the Timberwolves were 6 and 13. Now you get a new head coach, and pair that together with pretty much the same roster and this team could easily make a run. Ricky Rubio is playing for next offseason where he believes he is worth max money. I know if you look at the Timberwolves roster, you think it looks awful, but this team could make similar impact to what Portland did last season.

New Orleans Pelicans: 

This one is a bit more of a stretch and the reason I am putting them on here, is because I think Anthony Davis is only going to get better. Davis is one day going to be the best big in the NBA and last year he put up incredible numbers. Davis almost was the first center to average 20-10-3 since Shaq, but he failed to reach the three blocks a game only averaging 2.8 per game. That’s not the only reason I have them making on impact on next season, it’s also because I really like that lineup. I love the addition of Omer Asik, and they still have Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans, also they still have Jrue Holiday. Although this team is young, they are deep even to compete for a playoff spot. Also their coach, Monty Williams was once thought of as a rising star head coach in this league.

This years Phoenix Suns? 

Los Angeles Lakers:

I realize everyone is counting them out this year, in fact I even have them out of the playoffs. But if there is any team who can overcome the odds, it’s a team that has Kobe Bryant leading them. I mean in all honesty they have put together a team that could contend for a playoff spot over the last few weeks. Ultimately I believe their down fall will be there injuries, but for right now on paper they look great. If Kobe Bryant goes back to old Kobe and is averaging 25 points per game, then the Lakers are going to make an impact. As much as I want to see that Kobe again, I think those days are gone. Which is why they are the team that nobody is talking about coming into 2014. I think a lot of people are counting the Lakers out because they don’t trust the health of Kobe Bryant. They just hired Brian Shaw, and they still have an aging Steve Nash, along with Jordan Hill (who can play). Even though, i’m worried about the squad, they are a team who could make an impact.

Who are your Western Conference Sleepers, this season?

Remember, these are teams that nobody are talking about that could make an impact. Not saying that they are winning a championship or anything like that, just an impact. If you like my articles follow me on Twitter: @FFIChris and talk basketball with me.

 

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