Staff Writer: Ryan Ward
Every single season in the NBA Western Conference proves to be the most competitive, at least as of late, with plenty of teams that are legitimate playoff teams throughout the entire season. This year is no different as 11 teams in the conference could quite possibly battling it out or playoff spot in the second half of the season.
At this point in time no ways going to touch the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers as a the best record in the conference and are at least three games ahead of anybody behind them. Along with the Lakers the Dallas Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets also look like teams in the untouchable category as they have also shown the dominant this season and look to be battling it out between each other for the number two and number three spots in the West.
Other than that, all the other spots in the Western Conference from 4 to 8 seem to be up for grabs and will be moving back and forth until the 82nd game of the season has been played teams in the West.
Just below the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference is the Utah Jazz who have played extremely well this season and prove that they haven’t lost a step with All-Star point guard Deron Williams and forward Carlos Boozer leading the way. Despite playing brilliant basketball this season, Williams and company will have their work cut out for them second half of the season as Kevin Durant and his boys are slowly but surely working up the standings and threatening to take over the four spot.
The five through eight spots in the Western Conference are as competitive as can be as all four of these teams can easily go up or down in the seeding come playoff time. As of right now the Oklahoma City thunder on the five spot being almost dead even Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns as they are both seven games back from the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.
After Phoenix there are the San Antonio Spurs and the Portland Trail Blazers that round of the pack in the West at seven and eight. Much like the seeds for them, the Blazers and the Spurs are only a few games apart and could very well eventually get knocked out of the playoffs if they struggle late in the season and let teams like the Memphis Grizzlies and the Houston Rockets take their place.
On the outside looking in you have the Grizzlies, Rockets and the New Orleans Hornets who are on the verge of dropping below .500 and being completely out of contention, but these teams have played very well in stretches despite being extremely streaky at times.
The Portland Trail Blazers are a good team this season, but they have once again struggled with injuries to players like Greg Oden and their superstar guard Brandon Roy. With that being said I believe that the Grizzlies or the Rockets could very well get their chance to clinch the eight spot if they continue to play well in the second half of the season while the Blazers continue to struggle with nagging injuries to key players like Brandon Roy.
If these two teams do get a chance to knock off the Blazers were the Spurs if they fall to the eighth spot, I believe it will be the Memphis Grizzlies who are able to do it as they look like a team just rejuvenated this season with Zach Randolph leading the way in the paint arguably his best season as a Pro.