Why The NBA’s Western Conference Is As Tight As Ever Now

After the Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors to claim their first NBA title the celebration barely lasted. That’s because everyone was fixated on what would happen with free agents Kevin Durant, who had just torn his achilles in the finals, and Kawhi Leonard, who had just won finals MVP. Their decisions were set to shape the NBA for years to come as they’re two of best three players on the planet and reports of the two even becoming teammates were swirling around various headlines.

But before they could even make their announcements one of the Los Angeles franchises made a huge splash move.

The AD Trade

The Los Angeles Lakers have long been the NBA’s most cherished franchise and their move a season ago to get LeBron James bought a championship atmosphere that LA hadn’t felt since the departure of Kobe Bryant. Yet, the Lakers failed to make the playoffs in an injury-filled 2018 season and were looking to make a huge move in the offseason in order to have a chance at a chip. The Lakers then traded Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and a slew of draft picks to the New Orleans Pelicans in order to get Anthony Davis. Having AD paired with LeBron should surely restore the championship pedigree that the Lakers are uses to having. Even Las Vegas agreed, having the Lakers listed as the most likely 2019-20 champion following the trade. Will they bring in enough pieces in order to make the run that they want?

KD Moves To The East

Another move that shook up the Western Conference was the departure of Kevin Durant from the warriors. Actually, not only did he move on from the Warriors, he moved on from the Western Conference as a whole after inking a deal with the Brooklyn Nets in order to hoop with Kyrie Irving when he returns from the aforementioned achilles injury in the 2020-21 season. The move removes the NBA’s best scorer from the conference where his teams (Thunder/Warriors) were annually near the top and places him in the East, giving more balance to the West.

Thompson Out, Russell In?

KD wasn’t the only Warrior who suffered an injury during the NBA Finals. Klay Thompson tore his ACL in the last round and left a bit of uncertainty for the Warriors heading into next season, especially after they lost Durant. GM Bob Meyers went out and found another ball-handling guard who moved well without the ball in his hands and could create his own shot: D’Angelo Russell. The Warriors were at their best when they played within the team and had a ton of ball movement involved in the offense and now they can bring that back with the addition of Russell. The only question is where does that leave Klay when he comes back? Do they move him to the three or do the Warriors trade Russell if the one year rental doesn’t prove to live up to his all-star status?

Clippers Go All In

The Los Angeles Clippers made the biggest chess moves of the entire summer. They took a page out of the Raptors 2018 formula and went all in on star forward Kawhi Leonard and why not? He just lead the Raptors to their first championship by bringing his skill set to a team that was deep on the bench and played great defense. Now he’s joing a clippers team that has a deep bench and plays great defense, how ironic. The icing on the cake for the whole deal? Paul George. Kawhi reportedly told the Clipper to get Paul George in order for him to sign to the team, and they did just that while giving up a bunch of future draft picks in the process.

Have The Lakers Playoff Hopes Officially Faded?

Oh LA. Oh no LA.

The Los Angeles Lakers are officially hanging from a thread in terms of making the playoffs after their recent loss to the NBA’s worst team, the Pheonix Suns. The loss now seats the Lakers two spots outside of the playoffs which also amounts to them being five games back from being in the eight seed. With 19 games left in the regular season, would it be wise to believe LeBron James can lead this group of players to the playoffs?

The 2018-19 Los Angeles Lakers are not a bad squad. They definitely have had an up and down season, however they certainly have the pieces in place to make a playoff run, if they can even get there. Star forward LeBron James previously stated that he was activating his “playoff mode” earlier than expected due to the Lakers playoffs hopes reeling. However, the rest of the squad outside of Brandon Ingram have shown up on a consistent enough basis for the Lakers to have the string of wins that they so badly need if they really want a playoff spot. Their loss to the Pheonix Suns highlighted how sloppy and unorganized year it’s been for a Lakers team led by Luke Walton who is reportedly set to be fired after the season. So will the Lakers play inspired basketball down the stretch for their current coach or will they slouch around the last 19 games?