Last season in the Western Conference came down to two teams that were pretty evenly matched in the Western Conference finals.
The Denver Nuggets were a team that no one saw coming as they made arguably the best trade in franchise history when they sent superstar guard Allen Iverson to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for hometown hero point guard Chauncey Billups.
The trade was highly criticized as many people believed that the nuggets shouldn’t have gotten rid of future Hall of Famer Allen Iverson. Despite all the speculation and criticism surrounding the trade for Chauncey Billups, the trade worked out in their favor much better than expected as Billups brought much-needed structures to an offense and the defense that has great potential under head coach George Karl.
With Billups in the lineup and superstar Carmelo Anthony coming into his own as the leader of the team and the backbone of the Nuggets offense, they seem to be no stopping the up and coming Denver Nuggets from Macon a run in the playoffs where they had fallen short in the first round for consecutive years before last season.
Even though the Nuggets were arguably one of the best teams in the NBA at the time, Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles Lakers were damn near unbeatable has all their pieces to the puzzle were coming together beautifully at the right time. The Lakers did struggle against the Houston Rockets in the second round of the playoffs as they were taking to full seven games, but Kobe and company were able to pull through and reach the Western Conference finals for the second straight season and eventually beat the Denver Nuggets six games.
This season both the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets were still playing at extremely high level in the Western Conference and will be looking to make another run in the playoffs, but the competition in the West is a bit stronger this season with the likes of teams like the Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks starting to come together and play very good basketball in the second half of the regular season.
As of right now, the defending champion Lakers are still the team to beat in the Western Conference, but there is a good chance they could fall at the hands of some of the up and coming teams in the West this season if they can’t stay healthy in the second half of the regular season before the playoffs.
Throughout this title defense for the Lakers, Kobe Bryant has been suffering from multiple injuries including broken finger, back spasms, elbow problems and most recently sprain ankle that kept him out five straight games including the All-Star game the Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas.
So at this point in time, I believe the Denver Nuggets are the only team in the Western Conference right now that could give Kobe Bryant and company a run for their money the season as they try and make two NBA titles in a row and get back to dynasty status but they were at the beginning of the last decade.
The Oklahoma City thunder is a young and talented team led by one of the best players in the NBA in scoring machine Kevin Durant, but they are still young and inexperienced and will most likely be a first round exit in the playoffs.
The Dallas Mavericks made a hell of blockbuster trade when they acquired Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson, but I believe they still will fall short against teams like the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Then we come to the Utah Jazz, who at the beginning of the season really struggled to get it together, but have come on strong in the second half of the season and will make a push for the Northwest division title.
Fortunately like all the other teams in the West, I believe they will fall at the hands of the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.