NBA Free Agency: Impact of Signings so far on the Western Conference Power Rankings
This past week has arguably been one of the most intriguing the NBA's history. LeBron James, Paul George, Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins have all made massive decisions that will no doubt impact the seeding of the Western Conference going into next seasons playoffs.
In this article, I will evaluate and analyze who I believe to be the 4 Western Conference teams most likely to earn home-court advantage going into next year’s NBA Playoffs.
#4 Oklahoma City Thunder
Likely Starting 5:
Bench Contributors: Jerami Grant, Nerlens Noel, Alex Abrines, Patrick Patterson
Despite an extremely underwhelming year in 2017/18, The Oklahoma City Thunder are in the best position to take out the number 4 seed in the West. They take this spot because of the fact they have retained their core squad of players, who with a year together under their belt should only get better.
The sticky issue for the Thunder is what to do with Carmelo Anthony. Anthony has refused to come off the bench, despite him running their second unit being a very solid option. Excluding Anthony, a core that includes Westbrook, George, Adams, Roberson surely is talented enough to earn the Thunder the number 4 seed. Add in the ever-improving Jerami Grant and Alex Abrines, some handy minutes from Patrick Patterson and Nerlens Noel and you have an extremely versatile roster.
The key for the Thunder will be their defense. With George, Adams, Westbrook, Roberson, and Grant on the floor, they possess one of the best defensive lineups in the NBA.
#3 Los Angeles Lakers
Likely Starting 5: Lonzo Ball, LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee
Bench Contributors: Rajon Rondo, Mortiz Wagner, Lance Stephenson
The Lakers are a hard team to write about given they are more than likely to add to their squad before the end of free agency. However, even if they end up with Kawhai Leonard I would still rank them in this position. Acquiring LeBron James is no doubt GM Magic Johnson’s biggest achievement since retiring from the franchise as a player. LeBron instantly turns this team into a Western Conference contender.
However, there is a lot to like about this young Lakers contingent as well. Kyle Kuzma showed last season that he has what it takes to be a solid scorer in the NBA in years to come. Kuzma makes good decisions with the ball and I feel will work well in tandem with James. Lonzo Ball is another one to watch out for. If Lonzo is able to accept that he will play second fiddle in ball carrying duties to James then there is no reason he couldn’t be a solid piece in the Lakers puzzle.
I would have mentioned Brandon Ingram, however, I don’t think he will be around in Lakers uniform come the start of the season. In my opinion, and extremely underappreciated signing for the Lakers is Rajon Rondo. Rondo won't be intimidated by James and will happily provide another point of view in team discussions to that of the King’s. Add in his all-around solid play and team-first attitude and its safe to say the Lakers are building a very nice roster.