We are less than a month away from the start of the 2020-2021 season, and there have been plenty of changes to the NBA landscape. Coming off of their best season in years, the Lakers are primed for another successful season as they chase a repeat performance from their 2020 title run.
The Lakers come into this new season with an obvious target on their backs. With both LeBron James and Anthony Davis locked in for the future, other teams have been left to find ways to counter. It seems clear that the Lakers are the favorites to come out of the Western Conference once again, but it would be foolish to think that it’s a certainty. As next season approaches, let’s take a look at the three teams poised to be LA’s biggest threats in the West.
3. Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets are one of the best young teams in the NBA, and they have found their future in Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. After multiple years of struggling to break through, they have been a top 10 team each of the past two seasons and can only get better from here.
Their core is extremely young, and after some incredible playoff performances in 2020, they figure to come into this season with a chip on their shoulder. Their lack of experience remains their biggest weakness, but that argument will only be valid for a little longer. Expect the Nuggets to be a contender for best in the West once again in 2021.
2. Los Angeles Clippers
The regular-season matchups between the Lakers and Clippers were everything fans could have hoped for. They were tightly contested and intense throughout, leaving high expectations for a potential Western Conference Finals meeting.
Leave it to the Clippers to find an early exit once again and leave fans everywhere wondering what went wrong. There is no doubt that the Clippers are a top contender, but until they can exorcise their playoff demons and figure out their internal issues, they can’t be considered on the same level as the Lakers.
1. Portland Trail Blazers
I’ve seen a number of NBA rankings that completely omit Portland from the top 8, which is absolutely insane. The Blazers are bringing back a majority of the same roster from last season and have added even more talent as well. The addition of Robert Covington is a huge upgrade over Trevor Ariza and signing Derrick Jones gives them one of the deepest rotations in the league.
While the Blazers were easily eliminated by the Lakers in the playoffs last season, they were also dealing with multiple injuries and were not at full strength. With Lillard and McCollum leading the way and a much improved supporting cast around them, Portland will be the ultimate Wild Card in what will be one wild Western Conference.