Welcome to Day 3 of our Western Conference Preview. Today we will be looking at the 5th and 6th seeds. Before we get to who we think those teams are, a quick shout out to the NBA for getting rid of the rule where if a team wins their division they automatically get at least a 4th seed. The new rules will seed the teams by record only. So if you win a terrible division with 45 wins, you may be at the bottom of the playoff bracket. The playoffs will be better for it. Thank you Adam Silver, I’m sure you’re going to read this.
Today we will be discussing two more title contenders. One team with an enormous amount of talent, the other with a player that could very well be the best player in the league. Both have flaws that could cost them come playoff time.
6. New Orleans Pelicans
Last Year’s finish: 8th Seed
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Eric Gordon
SF: Dante Cunningham
PF: Anthony Davis
C: Omer Asik
6th Man: Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson
This is going to be Anthony Davis’s year. I predict he will win the MVP. He will lead the Pelicans to the playoffs for the second year in a row. And by the end of the year he will be considered the best basketball player in the world. Reports are saying that Davis has added a three point shot to his game. It’s just not going to be fair.
I wanted to have the Pelicans even higher this year but this has been a brutal preseason for them already. Jrue Holiday and Norris Cole are already injured. And now word has come out that Tyreke Evans is out for about six weeks after getting his knee scoped. Anthony Davis is great, but he will need 4 other players on the court to help him a little.
New Head coach Alvin Gentry. Bringing with him the offensive principles that helped Golden State win a championship. Gentry is considered a huge upgrade for the Pelicans over last year’s coach Monty Williams. It could take a little while for the players to gel under the new system. The early injuries don’t help. But it helps to have “the Brow”, and that should be enough to make the Pelicans dangerous this year
- Los Angeles Clippers
Last Year’s finish: 3rd seed
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Chris Paul
SG: J.J. Redick
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Blake Griffin
C: DeAndre Jordan
6th Man: Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson, Jamal Crawford
This was one of the hardest projections in the entire conference. The Clippers finished with 56 wins last year. I believe they added multiple quality pieces that make them a deeper, better basketball team. Yet I have them dropping to 5th in the West because I can’t get over the drama of the offseason. DeAndre Jordan signed with the Mavs because he can’t stand Chris Paul! Only after having second thoughts and being locked into his own house till he signed with the Clippers did he decide to come back to L.A.
Is Chris Paul ever going to stop yelling at his teammates? Not a chance. Did DeAndre magically learn how to shoot free throws so his teammates can depend on him in crunch time? That would be a No as well.
Can Doc Rivers balance the Egos and Personalities on this team? While the additions of Josh Smith and Lance Stephenson add quality depth to a Clippers team that didn’t have any last year. Neither of those gentlemen are considered good chemistry guys. This could be a combustive mix to add to the whole CP3/DeAndre relationship. That’s why I have them sixth. They have as much talent as anyone, but I think it will take awhile for them to come together as a team. But when they do, look out.