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Monday, 21 December 2020

The Raptors Files Western Conference NBA Playoff Review 2020 -2021 #RPTZFLZ

      The NBA championship trophy appears like its home will stay in the west this season but a lot of teams in the conference showed the last post-season that they may pose a formidable opponent this time around.

1) Los Angeles Lakers: Sadly, it's officially the post-Kobe Bryant era and now the Lakers are winning for themselves.  The hunger is the same and the confidence became more palpable with every playoff game.
    What's Good?: Anthony Davis should be elite level good this season, especially if he's comfortable with his three-point shot.  Their latest pick-ups make them faster and more physical.  Better.  Period.
    What's Bad?: The short gap between the last playoffs and the start of the next season.  This season's shorter but by the time the playoffs start, wear and tear may start to show and sideline key players.
    The X-Factor: The Lakers bench is going to have to do more heavy lifting than is typically expected but they prepared well enough for such an event.

2) Los Angeles Clippers: High expectations this season that failed to pan out have humbled the Clippers players and fans somewhat but they shouldn't be ruled out of the championship conversation.
    What's Good?: They've made key veteran additions that should bring some much-needed maturity to the team and discipline on the floor as the lack of that was what ultimately led to their undoing against the Nuggets.
     What's Bad?: The fact that this team that was all but guaranteeing a championship win after the big moves they made to acquire Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, were considering blowing it up this past off-season.  They've re-signed Paul George but this season still looks like more of an experiment than clarity of their sense of the next few years.
      The X-Factor: Serge Ibaka fits perfectly as the player who'll be able to corral the team if they start to steer waywardly.

3) Denver Nuggets: The team that most exceeded expectations last season returns just as hungry and just as capable, but there was a bit of luck on their side last season.
     What's Good?: Health and good spirits about their prospects about exceeding expectations.
     What's Bad?: Only thing I can see as a negative is that they didn't try to make any moves in the offseason but it's not a team that has any glaring deficiencies.  They lacked experience and now they have it.
     The X-Factor?: Michael Porter Jr.'s growth will determine how far they go this season.

4) Portland Trailblazers: This is probably the team I always underestimate the most going into every season and maybe I'm doing the same here, but I wouldn't mind them proving me wrong.
    What's Good?: Familiar faces.  Enes Kanter returns to add some toughness off the bench.  Mostly the team and gameplay are the same, and that's good for a team that continues to get getter.
     What's Bad?: The fact that they're kinda still the same.  They don't need to win now but they need to win soon.
     The X-Factor: The bench is going to have to help out this season if they really wanna make a serious move into the conference finals.

5) Utah Jazz: Still steady, hovering in that upper middle of the pack.  It's like watching a cyclist in the Tour de France keeping pace in a pack behind the lead, looking for the right time and place to pounce.  For the past decade or so, they've been having trouble finding that gap.
     What's Good?: Fan and teammate favourite Derrick Favors is back.
     What's Bad?: The lack of new young blood.
     The X-Factor: Jordan Clarkson.  The Jazz need a second consistent scoring threat and Jordan Clarkson has the ability, he just needs the push.

6) Dallas Mavericks: The Mavericks have been throwing players into and out of the mix for a few seasons in an attempt to find the right solution, this season looks to be about the same.
    What's Good?: Porzingis might be returning sooner rather than later.
    What's Bad?: Porzingis is out.
    The X-Factor: Dwight Powell is the most versatile big on the team after Porzingis.  His return in could health could act as a stopgap until Porzingis is back and healthy.

7) Phoenix Suns: Really started finding their groove last season into a playoff run that showed a promising future to come.
    What's Good?: The great young talented core on this team.
    What's Bad?:  The lack of veterans on this team.
    The X-Factor: Chris Paul.  They're going to need everything they can get out of him.

8) New Orleans Pelicans: With promising young talent starting out with one of the best coaches around, don't be surprised to see this team exceed expectations.
    What's Good?: Zion Williamson has LeBron James potential when it comes to the impact he can have on the fortunes of a franchise's winning ambitions.  If he can avoid injuries this season, the future looks immediately promising.
     What's Bad?: They have great young talent but they don't have a lot of experience to match.  It would've been great to see them add more vets during the offseason but if that's going to be their only flaw, it's not a bad one to have.
     The X-Factor: Lonzo Ball is going to have to look for his shot more often than not.  It won't be a necessity, but it would be a bonus.


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