LA Lakers (41-12)
The Lakers are undoubtedly the titans of the West, at the number one seed that they’ve held for the entirety of the season. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have proven to be a high functioning, dynamic duo on the court together. In the new basketball world of mainly 3-point shots, the two thrive off the pick-and-roll, while maintaining the option for threes with shooters Danny Green, Avery Bradley and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The Lakers offense is built for in the paint scoring, using James to facilitate moves for Davis and Dwight Howard.
Their defense was smothering in the early stages of the season. They lead the lead in blocks and Davis leads the team in blocks and steals. His versatility on defense has created problems for opponents because he can virtually defend any position. If the Lakers can hold their position at first seed, a Western Conference Finals game is likely, at the very least.
Denver Nuggets (38-17)
Denver is always a sleeper team, in my opinion. Nikola Jokic was on the All-Star team this year, but only played 5 minutes as a reserve. Michael Porter Jr was snubbed out of a spot in the Rising Star game. It’s safe to say that the Nuggets are rested and ready to finish the second half of the season. Currently, Denver sits at second seed in the West, with only 4 wins behind the LA Lakers. While they have yet to find a set rotation, it’s important to remember that this is one of the few teams that didn’t get a power duo over the off season. Jokic and Jamal Murray are the two leading scorers but they haven’t even been playing their best ball this season.
Houston Rockets (34-20)
Hear me out. I realize the Rockets are currently at 5th seed but as the trade deadline came and went, they made the most radical move of all by dumping Center Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks and bringing in Robert Covington. Covington is an elite 3-and-D wing. PJ Tucker has been playing Center as the Rockets move to a mostly small ball formation at all times. This move has not only worked, it has given Houston the number one offense in the league. The Rockets have now signed veterans Jeff Green and Demare Carroll to add to their wing depth, both great defenders.
Removing Clint Capela has opened the paint, making drives for James Harden and Russell Westbrook that much easier. The team’s two stars draw all the defensive attention on the court, making open looks for all of the other three point shooters on the team. Their supporting cast has gotten better with each trade. Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers, Daniel House and Ben Mclemore have all made a name for themselves on either side of the court this season. The team is almost fully healthy. Given the instant chemistry Robert Covington had with the team, and the two newcomers adding even more depth, I believe the Rockets will have a big second half of the season.
Featured Photo Credit: talkbasket.net
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