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Broulis Beat Report: 2017-2018 NBA West predictions By Nick Broulis

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CANTON, Ohio- NBA Western conference predictions. With the NBA season just days away, I wanted to make some predictions on what to expect out of all the teams out West. DALLAS MAVERICKS-  Dallas has some talent. With Dirk Nowitzki, Harrison Barnes and J.J. Barea, but they have one thing in common with quite a few teams playing in the West. The Western conference was already, by far, the best conference in the NBA. It just became even more loaded during the Summer. I’d be shocked if the Mavericks do much of anything this year. Dirk is no longer in the prime of his career and they don’t have enough young talent. Dallas will likely be sellers when the trade deadline rolls around. DENVER NUGGETS-  Denver has a chance to possibly get the 8th seed in the West, but it’s a bit of a long shot. The Nuggets have some talent that might be able to make that happen. Kenneth Faried, Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap, Jamal Murray and Mason Plumlee. All young talent. I’ll give Denver a chance at the 8th seed. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS- I’m pretty sure I don’t have to go into much detail. Same team for the most part. They added Nick Young to the bench and brought back Andre Iguodala and signed Steph Curry to a massive five-year $201 million contract. The main core of the Warriors is locked in. Here’s my question long-term for the Warriors. If Golden State wins another title or two, will Durant decide then to leave the bay-area and head back home to help win a title for his hometown Wizards? HOUSTON ROCKETS- The Rockets brought guard Chris Paul on board over the Summer, hoping he’ll help James Harden, Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson compete with and maybe eventually overcome the Spurs and Warriors. My biggest problem with Houston, is the fact that their head coach Mike D’Antoni has never asked his team to play a lot of defense. I don’t expect that to change this season. I expect Houston to continue to just try and out-score everyone with very little defense. No doubt they’ll make the playoff, but how far? LA CLIPPERS- This is a bit of a new-look Clippers team. Paul is gone, so now Austin Rivers and Patrick Beverley are left to guide the ship. They still have Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, but I’m not sure they have the players to compete in the West. I don’t anticipate the Clippers doing much better than an 8th seed if that. LOS ANGELES LAKERS- For the first time in what seems like forever by Laker standards, the Lakers have talent and could make a push for the 8th seed in the playoffs. Lonzo Ball is the main guy, but I like Brook Lopez at center, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle as well. This will be an interesting season for the Lakers. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES- Unless the Grizzlies are going to get a lot of production out of their backcourt, I don’t think Memphis will make the playoffs. The Grizzlies have always been known as the grinder type team. I’m not too sure if that will work this year though. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES- A team in the West that is young, talented and definitely on the rise. Minnesota, get ready to rock the Target Center for the playoffs. The Target Center isn’t a big arena, but when the Timberwolves are good, it reminds me of the atmosphere out in Utah. Minnesota has the talent with Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng and Jimmy Butler as the main guys. Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford will help out this young nucleus. I’m just trying to figure out if Minnesota can grab a 6th seed or higher in the West. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS- The Pelicans made a trade last year to pair Anthony Davis with DeMarcus (I’m a team cancer) Cousins. No, I’m not sorry for saying that, because Cousins really can destroy a team from within. It’s not that New Orleans doesn’t have the talent, it’s a matter of them being able to play well together. If they can gel, the Pelicans can be tough. If they don’t gel, they might be looking to trade come the trade deadline. Cousins will be a free-agent at the end of the year. If the front office sees that Davis and Cousins just don’t play well together, the Pelicans might try and trade Cousins. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER- Wow! What a difference one Summer makes! Last year, all OKC had to lean on was Russell Westbrook and his triple-double games. Fast forward to the season of 2017-2018 and the Thunder added forwards Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. While I’m not big on Anthony and glad he didn’t end up in Cleveland, Carmelo is now in a much better situation and is playing in meaningful games. I know I’m not a fan of Anthony, but playing in a situation like the Knicks are in, compared to his new situation will, in my opinion, bring back the productive Carmelo Anthony. So now, Oklahoma City has their version of their “Big three”. Now, will it be enough to help them compete with the Rockets, Spurs and Warriors? And yes, of course they’ll make the playoffs. PHOENIX SUNS- The Suns have some talent. Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and yes, even though he’s a bit older, I still like Tyson Chandler. But Phoenix is nowhere near ready for the playoffs and they’ll likely either just stay put and play out the season and look to add a high draft pick or they’ll look to trade some players away for future draft picks. Keep an eye on if they try and deal away Tyson Chandler just to free up cap space and get a draft pick for him. PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS- The Trailblazers have always had one thing going for them. Portland has always had a great home-court advantage. Portland also has one of the best point guards in the NBA in Damian Lillard. I was actually hoping that Cleveland would consider trading Irving straight up for Lillard. That obviously did not happen. Lillard and Canton, Ohio native CJ McCollum play very well together. I think Portland might have just enough talent to maybe squeeze into the 8th seed, but not any higher. It’ll be another first-round knockout courtesy of Golden State if that’s the case. SACRAMENTO KINGS- Believe it or not, I actually wouldn’t be shocked if the Kings made a push for that 8th seed in the West. I think Buddy Hield is a rising star, I like Willie Cauley-Stein, Geoge Hill isn’t bad at the guard spot and Zach Randolph will bring good veteran leadership to this team. The Kings aren’t the worst team, but they’ll have to really fight to grab that 8th seed. SAN ANTONIO SPURS- If Kawhi Leonard doesn’t get injured last year in the series versus Golden State, do the Spurs knock out the mighty Warriors? It wouldn’t have shocked me. All San Antonio does is reload. Plenty of talent, but will this be the year that the Spurs can find a way to take out a loaded Golden State team? UTAH JAZZ- The Gordon Hayward era is over in Utah. The Jazz now begin to start building around center Rudy Gobert, which isn’t a bad starting block for a player. Utah won’t make to the playoffs unless their young talent really steps up big time. They’ll need to start the rebuilding process starting with the trade deadline and acquiring picks or trading away good young talent for one or two higher valued players. It’ll be a next interesting couple of years for the Jazz to say the least. The Western Conference has long been the dominate conference out of the two in the NBA. Over this past Summer, the West became even stronger. The Warriors are likely the #1 seed followed by the Spurs, Rockets and Thunder. After that I think Minnesota will grab the 5th seed. It’s anyone’s guess who will grab seeds 6-8. Denver, New Orleans, Sacramento, Portland and the Los Angeles Lakers all come to mind. Email: Facebook: The Broulis Beat Report

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