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The battle for the NBA playoffs in the Western Conference is always tough and unpredictable and we always have teams who are exceeding our expectations, but also teams that are falling short of their goals.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the overperforming and underperforming teams in the West, but you can also check our writing for the Eastern Conference.
NBA Western Conference – Overperforming Teams
Let’s begin this article by covering the most pleasant surprises in the West so far:
After reaching the playoffs by beating the Warriors in the play-in tournament last season, most people expected the Grizzlies to be in a similar situation this season too – on the cusp of making the playoffs. However, the Grizzlies have exceeded those expectations so far and they are currently the third seed in the West, with a record of 30 wins and 15 losses.
The front office didn’t change much in the summer, except for letting go of Valanciunas to bring in Adams, ensuring better defense in the post. Other than that, the Grizzlies just made sure to keep their young core led by Morrant, Jackson Jr., Brooks, Bane, and Clarke. Obviously, it’s too early for these Grizzlies to fight for the title, but they certainly have a bright future.
Golden State Warriors
It might seem weird to put the Warriors, a bona-fide recent dynasty, on this list. However, the Warriors have been trough a lot since their last championship 2018 – Durant leaving, Thompson missing two full seasons, and failing to reach the playoffs two years in a row. Last season, the Warriors managed to get into the play-in tournament, but they were eliminated by the Grizzlies in the final game.
So, with Thompson only scheduled to make his return from two serious injuries in 2022, not many people expected to see Golden State at the top of the standings in the West. However, led by rejuvenated Curry and once again reliable Green, the Warriors managed to get to a 31-11 record. This is enough to put them in the second seed in the West at the moment, only behind Phoenix Suns.
NBA Western Conference – Underperforming Teams
Now it’s time to check some of the teams that failed to impress us so far:
Los Angeles Lakers
After making a lot of changes in the summer, most notably trading for Russell Westbrook, the Lakers were seen as one of the main contenders for the championship. Of course, their season was always going to be dependent on health of their two main stars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and on Westbrook’s chemistry with the team.
As many doubted, both James and Davis have missed some games this season, with Davis still being out with an MCL sprain. That, and many other problems, led to some truly embarrassing losses and an overall record of 21 wins and 22 losses, which currently puts the Lakers into the play-in tournament.
Portland Trail Blazers
After appearing in the Western Conference Finals just a couple of seasons ago, the Trail Blazers were seen as a certain playoff participant for this season as well. However, things have been going from bad to worse for the Blazers this season since the team had to deal with injuries to CJ McCollum and now Damien Lillard.
Overall, the Blazers have struggled to keep up with other teams in the West and they are far from the playoffs right now with an 17-25 record after the first half of the season. Lillard is due to miss more games and he might even be out for the entire season, so it seems that the Blazers don’t have a lot of reasons to hope for the better second half of the season.
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