The 2019-20 season is upon us that has brought forth plenty of expectations around the league. There have been several teams that have been pegged as the favorites to win their respective divisions. We have already named three sleepers in the Eastern Conference, here are the three teams to watch in the Western Conference.
The Mavericks have struggled to find success over the last few seasons, stringing together three straight losing campaigns that have marked the longest losing drought the franchise has had since the 1999-00 season.
Although there isn’t a lot of expectations around the franchise, the team is led by a potentially potent 1-2 punch with their forwards Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. The duo looked sharp in the preseason, being able to feed off each other on the court as Doncic has utilized his playmaking ability as a passer to extenuate Porzingis’ scoring prowess.
Porzingis should be in store for a bounce-back year after sitting out all of last year due to his recovery from a torn ACL. Before the injury, he had earned his first All-Star selection while being a major factor on both ends of the floor. Doncic will take another leap in his development that should see him earn his first All-Star selection.
The Mavericks’ youthfulness may ultimately play against them, but there is plenty of promise in Dallas.
Golden State Warriors
I know, I know putting a team that is coming off their fifth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals is a bit puzzling at this juncture. However, this placement is more about the LA teams in the Pacific division.
The Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers have each markedly improved this offseason after adding All-Star caliber talent to their respective rosters. The Lakers headlined their offseason with the addition of star forward Anthony Davis while adding prominent role players such as Danny Green, Dwight Howard, Avery Bradley, and Quinn Cook.
Meanwhile, the Clippers made the moves of the offseason by trading for Paul George and landing arguably the best player in the league in Kawhi Leonard. L.A. already had the best scoring duo off the bench with Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell.
The Warriors will be leaning heavily on the play of their All-Star backcourt with Stephen Curry and D’Angelo Russell. Especially with Klay Thompson out for potentially the entire season and Kevin Durant now being a member of the Brooklyn Nets. If Golden State hopes to make a strong push to win their sixth straight division title, it will need their remaining core group to head the charge.
Portland Trail Blazers
Like the Warriors, the Trail Blazers are on this list for the same reason due to the stiff competition in the Northwest division.
The Utah Jazz were one of the teams that have had plenty of buzz around them after their huge offseason. The Jazz added veteran point guard Mike Conley, who has been one of the most underrated players at his position over the last several years.
Utah also made moves to acquire forward Bojan Bogdanovic and Ed Davis to their core group of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Meanwhile, Denver Nuggets should only be better this season with their rising stars in Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray leading the charge.
The Blazers will be in the mix, led by their dynamic backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum that has led the team to two division titles in the last five years. Portland has beefed up their roster with the additions Hassan Whiteside, Kent Bazemore, and rookie Nassir Little to the mix that will only help that effort.
Among these three teams, the Blazers appear to have the best chance to make a serious run at claiming their division title.