It’s time to be cliche as the NBA is set to start in less than a month. All rankings below reflect rosters as of December 4, 2020. Free agency, draft picks, and re-signings are considered. All hail the first power ranking of the NBA Western Conference of the 2020-2021 Season.
In case you missed any of the reported signings, trades, and player movement you can track that here with our 2020 Off-Season Tracker!
Check out the Shoot or Pass Crew: 2020 NBA Free Agency Winner & Losers
- Los Angeles Lakers
The defending champs are obviously going to fill this spot. Signing Montrezl Harrell, Wesley Matthews, and Marc Gasol can be looked at as upgrades. Retaining Markieff Morris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope rounds out the defending champs moves early and a roster poised to repeat as champions in 2021.
- Los Angeles Clippers
Does the battle of LA matter this year again? Montrezl Harrell surprisingly switching locker rooms made the Clippers look a little shaky. However, rebounding by signing Serge Ibaka on a 2-year deal, reportedly $19 million is a nice piece to add. Now the next part is determining with Tyronn Lue as head coach can they turn into a more serious contender? The roster looked great last year on paper but then again losing to the Denver Nuggets in the West Semifinals is concerning.
- Denver Nuggets
Denver gets Paul Millsap to return on a one-year deal and JaMychal Green returns on a two-year deal. Did the Nuggets need to drastically improve their roster? Probably not. Losing Jerami Grant to Detroit is probably for the better as Grant seemed to want to expand his offensive role. You’re now asking for guys like Gary Harris, Bol Bol, and Will Barton to fill the gaps of Grant’s loss of production. I’ll take the Clippers in a rematch series at this rate.
- Golden State Warriors
The wounded Warriors head back into the season with a man down. That is Klay Thompson this time again with a knee injury. While they still have two All-Stars in Draymond Green and Steph Curry, this should be good enough to compete for a top-four spot in the West this upcoming season. Andrew Wiggins and James Wiseman are two players to look forward to the Warriors relying on this season. The signing of Kelly Oubre is also a nice pick-up to fill in a knock-down shooter.
- Dallas Mavericks
Let’s start this by mentioning Luka Doncic is on track to become the best NBA player and only entering year three. The concern here is can the Mavericks take the next step to become a contender in the West in 2021? The West seems to be in a bit of a “reset” looking at seeds four through eight. The Mavericks finished 7th in a year that allowed Kristaps Porzingas to show off what he can do with Luka. Dallas came on strong at the end of the 2020 restart in the bubble and now all signs should point to them moving up in the West.
- Portland Trailblazers
Losing to the eventual NBA Champions Los Angeles Lakers in the first round shouldn’t be as disappointing. The Blazers secured Carmelo Anthony and Rodney Hood for another go around. Signing Derrick Jones Jr. and adding Enes Kanter are the quiet additions for Portland. Last season, without Jusuf Nurkić pre-NBA bubble the Blazers struggled to compete. At the end of the bubble, a healthy Blazer team looks more promising than sitting at the bottom of the West.
- Phoenix Suns
Alright, we have to give them some sort of credit for their undefeated 8-0 seeding games in the NBA bubble. Unfortunately, the numbers favored Portland and the Suns went home after an amazing run in the bubble. Today, the Suns roster currently showcases Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Jae Crowder, and DeAndre Ayton. Phoenix secured Dario Saric again. Cue in Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. If CP3 can take last year’s Thunder team to 44 wins and a 5th seed spot out West, this team is primed to possibly overachieve.
- Houston Rockets
Welcome to a Kentucky reunion with John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. The two newest faces of the Rockets join James Harden. Who wins this trade? Some say Houston being able to get the draft but for a win-now purpose? John Wall hasn’t played a game since 2018 and Cousins 2019. You’re not sure what you’re getting to pair next to Harden. However, on paper, this team serves at best a bubble team for the 8th seed in a stacked Western Conference
- Utah Jazz
This is where the Western Conference becomes a little tough to navigate. Utah has shown they can stay relevant in the playoff talk out West. Kind of hard to put them in the middle of the pack since their acquisitions are retaining Jordan Clarkson, signing Derrick Favors, and giving Donovan Mitchell a max deal. I’d predict that Utah is going to spend a lot of their season attempting to stay afloat for the 7th or 8th seed.
- Memphis Grizzlies
I want to provide positive energy to Ja Morant. Let’s forgo “sophomore slumps” and have an even better season! Losing Jaren Jackson Jr to a knee injury in the bubble made this team look depressed. They lost the 8th seed and making matters even worse they had to win two games to even regain the 8th seed during a play-in tournament. Obviously, that didn’t happen. With a little more experienced teams ahead of the Grizzlies this is going to be a tough year to lock in the 8th seed.
- New Orleans Pelicans
Welcome back, Stan Van Gundy! Here is Zion Williamson and now make some magic! The Pelicans had a nice outing last week. Their roster now includes Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams, and they re-signed Brandon Ingram to a max deal. Adding a few more veteran pieces that shouldn’t impact Zion’s play is a good deal here for Van Gundy and co. Being optimistic that this team also can compete for the West’s last playoff spot and if not, a play-in tournament would be their only option come May for the playoffs.
- San Antonio Spurs
Greg Popovich is still running the show and this roster still includes DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. The most they can do is overachieve and position themselves as that under the radar team we love to see. However, any slow start to the season could have the Spurs finding themselves in a hole too deep to recover and make the playoffs.
- Minnesota Timberwolves
The team that had the number one pick in the 2020 NBA Draft now has a concern. The T-Wolves number one is on the record before the draft stating that football is his number one love. The words are quoted as saying that perhaps basketball is just good enough as a job. Yikes! Well, there still is Karl Anthony-Towns and D’Angelo Russell. Acquiring Russell during a trade in the middle of last season only means we got to see the duo perform for 12 games together. Good enough to compete in a stacked Western Conference? To be determined…
- Sacramento Kings
The good news is that De’Aron Fox has inked a max deal to stay in Sacramento long-term. The bad news? Bogdan Bogdanović apparently did not want to go to Milwaukee in a foiled deal. The Hawks swooped in quickly and signed him to an offer sheet in which the Kings agreed not to match. Kent Bazemore and Harry Giles also are out in Sacramento. A 31-win team in 2019-2020 and no significant additions. The plus side is drafting the highly-regarded Tyrese Haliburton 12th overall.
- Oklahoma City Thunder
One of the most retooled rosters in a short amount of time is the Oklahoma City Thunder. Let’s tally up these losses, shall we? Chris Paul, Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari, Dennis Schroder, and Nerlens Noel all have signed, traded, or agreed to contracts with other teams. George Hill is the replacement for Chris Paul and perhaps is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander now considered the best player for OKC? Yikes. It’s been a fun run Thunder fans but welcome to the bottom again.