Lakers and different NBA West play-in contenders ranked by playoff upset potential

Wow, wow, wow. Pump the brakes right here.

We’re doing all of it incorrect.

The framework of the Western Convention chaos has been constructed round which groups are on a streak and that are happening as analysts and followers attempt to determine which groups will advance to the playoffs. Seeds 4 by means of 10 are up for grabs and inside attain. Two unfortunate franchises will miss the play-in match altogether.

Whereas it is good to consider the enjoyment of this play-off, what actually counts within the grand scheme of issues is whether or not any of those groups have an opportunity of profitable a first-round sequence towards the very best groups within the Western Convention.

So as an alternative of attempting to foretell who’s almost certainly to do it to do play-off, we’ll see who has the very best probability win or scare the very best seeds in the event that they handle to get to that time.

8. Utah Jazz

File: 36-40

The toughest can be: Grizzlies from Memphis

The Jazz are 36-40, however have solely gained one in every of their final 5 video games. Their quota of minutes has been youthful over the past two weeks, extra usually instilling Ochai Agbaji into the rotation and even taking part in 10-day contract Luka Samanic on Wednesday within the opening quarter minutes towards San Antonio.

Lauri Markkanen was an All-Star, Walker Kessler was a very good hoop defender lately, and Agbaji wasn’t even half unhealthy. They’re fairly bruised, and Collin Sexton and Jordan Clarkson are just a little harm whereas working. There is not a ton of depth after changing many of the gamers (and shooters) from their rotation on time.

Utah’s finest probability of pulling off a miracle within the first spherical would most likely be towards Memphis. The Jazz have two wins over the Grizzlies in a yr and frontcourt gaps to essentially stretch Jaren Jackson Jr.’s roster. and Steven Adams. Memphis is a large number, in order that they’ll be a well-liked reply for a workforce that loses right here within the first spherical, however the Jazz match up fairly properly with Markkanen and Kelly Olynyk.

7. New Orleans Pelicans

File: 38-38

The toughest can be: Kings of Sacramento

The Pelicans are two completely different groups relying on whether or not they have Zion Williamson within the roster. Sadly, he’s sidelined with a hamstring damage and it’s uncertain he can be again in time for the playoffs.

With him, they’re a dynamic and versatile offensive power with positional versatility, loads of depth and one authorized takeover star. They seem to be a harmful workforce to run into as a possible eight.

With out it, the Pelicans are just a little thirsty for straightforward buckets and paint touch-ups. CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram are nice marksmen, however they stay mid-range or behind the three-point line, so they do not create a straightforward sufficient search for the roleplayers.

That stated, a yr in the past we noticed Willie Inexperienced assemble these troops with out Zion to win a set of tentative wins and a poor six-game streak towards the Phoenix Suns. Their wing protection unit is improbable; Pels can grow to be a fearsome foe towards opponents with a number of versatile marksmen.

Kings struggle on protection and do not preserve groups out of lane, so offensive-hungry Pelicans can generate patches even with out Zion. Leaning right into a defensive lineup and discovering the best buttons to press towards kings can create a enjoyable distinction of types.

6. Thunder in Oklahoma

File: 38-39

The toughest can be: Grizzlies from Memphis

The Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder is a improbable story this yr. They exceeded expectations and have become a really feared band within the West in the long term. Additionally they have actual identities: they’re all good and expert, have good positional sizes and compete towards one another each evening.

Main the cost is All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a strolling painted contact who made an effort on the defensive. Regardless of not having tons of improbable particular person defenders, Thunder are feisty and push groups to the brink each evening. Sleep on them at your personal threat.

Like Oklahoma Metropolis, the Grizzlies depend on competitors and energy all through the common season. OKC’s comparative benefit will not diminish over Memphis, the Grizzlies’ backcourt is barely smaller in comparison with the Thunder, and the shortage of a scorer at fifth provides Oklahoma Metropolis a scarcity of midgame dimension that Sacramento and Denver would not. As a lot as we like Thunder as a bunch, they are not properly structured to tame Nikola Jokic or Domantas Sabonis, which makes it tough to position them excessive on this record.

5. Dallas Mavericks

File: 37-40

The toughest can be: Grizzlies from Memphis

The Mavericks have been sliding down, shedding 4 out of their final 5 and searching outdoors the opening picture. In the event that they succeed, they may nonetheless be fairly a troublesome opponent. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving are two of essentially the most proficient marksmen within the universe and are good for the playoffs as an isolation risk. They are going to rating factors towards any workforce they will face.

With the ultimate takeover of Irving, this roster is totally devoid of protection personnel. Whereas they will rating towards the very best of them, conserving some well-oiled machines in a best-of-five sequence would not sound like a promising proposition. It is unlikely the Mavs will have the ability to pull anybody out of their offensive.

The Grizzlies have midfield offensive statistically, whereas the Kings and Nuggets are elite threats that may possible intestine the Mavs’ lack of defensive employees. If Dallas needs the very best probability of promotion, they will must take a step ahead earlier than the top of the common season to get to seventh or eighth place.

4. Minnesota Timberwolves

File: 39-38

The toughest can be: Denver Nuggets

With Karl-Anthony Cities lacking many of the season by means of damage, we nonetheless do not know the way properly he and Rudy Gobert are doing collectively. The Timberwolves are round .500 within the video games they each play, and their distinctive match makes it onerous for the Wolves to mesh on the fly. They have been actually good the previous few weeks and Anthony Edwards appears rejuvenated with KAT’s return.

We additionally noticed Gobert struggling within the playoffs, which was one of many causes the Jazz walked away from the nice man final summer season. Mike Conley has been actually good to them, and there are sufficient veterans to assist stabilize the ship. They’re an actual wild card within the West and have a artistic coach in Chris Finch who is aware of find out how to push the best buttons and make changes over a seven-game sequence.

Again within the 2020 bubble playoffs, Gobert and the Jazz gave the Nuggets a superb scare in a seven-game sequence. Jamal Murray’s Herculean streak in video games 5, six and 7 allowed him to beat a 3-1 deficit. Constructive for any workforce with Gobert: he beforehand constructed a post-season lead on a workforce led by Jokic. Maybe they will repeat it.

3. Los Angeles Clippers

File: 41-36

The toughest can be: Grizzlies from Memphis

As we climb up the desk, we run into groups which are inside putting distance of the 4th and fifth seed within the West. These groups might keep away from a first-round matchup with the very best groups within the Western Convention altogether, growing their possibilities of advancing. However the Clippers (and everybody else on this race) will not be out of the query of falling into the play-ins.

The elephant within the room for the Clippers is that one in every of their two superstars might not be able to play early within the postseason. Paul George is knocked down and out of the line-up. When he is wholesome, he and Kawhi Leonard make a lethal tandem. Add Ty Lue’s improbable changes to a best-of-three sequence and the Clippers aren’t any enjoyable.

However the worry of going through the Clippers is low if George just isn’t within the squad. Glue a giant outdated Clips star and tie their post-season destiny to PG-13 well being. They return from a win over the Grizzlies on Wednesday evening with out George within the lineup, so if there’s one group they might be assured with ought to George fall out, it is Memphis.

2. Golden State troopers

File: 40-37

The toughest can be: Kings of Sacramento

Just like the Clippers, Golden State will doubtlessly miss one in every of their key items. With out Andrew Wiggins, Dubs are a bit weak on the wings of expertise and defensive energy. He was a key a part of their championship final season.

That stated, this record continues to be fairly deep elsewhere by way of each expertise and championship expertise. The Warriors might produce other gear to make use of when April rolls round, they usually nonetheless have essentially the most harmful shooter on this record, Stephen Curry.

The Kings are inexperienced, have holes of their protection and have already misplaced twice to the Warriors this yr. If these two groups go face to face, my cash might go to Steve Kerr’s squad.

1. Los Angeles Lakers

File: 38-38

The toughest can be: All

That is the workforce I’d worry essentially the most within the first spherical and it would not actually matter who the matchup is. With Anthony Davis and Jarred Vanderbilt within the frontcourt, the Lakers can give you so many alternative defensive plans and disrupt any fashion of play. They’re going to even have LeBron James, essentially the most skilled champion within the NBA and the one man who can take management of a sport on the flick of a swap – on either side.

This record is stuffed with admiration, with higher outcomes from gamers like Austin Reaves and Troy Brown. The additions of Malik Beasley and D’Angelo Russell add 3-point taking pictures round their core and permit the Vanderbilt/Davis mixture to develop.

Be careful for the Lakers, of us.

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