Monday, 15 Jul 2024

Offseason Power Rankings: Suns, Lakers Emerge in the West

Injuries have had a significant impact on the 2021 playoff bracket, especially in the Western Conference. Key players like Jamal Murray, Anthony Davis, Mike Conley, and Kawhi Leonard suffered injuries that affected their respective teams’ postseason runs. Chris Paul, despite battling through an injury, led the Phoenix Suns to the Finals but required wrist surgery afterward. Unfortunately, Murray and Leonard are expected to miss a significant portion, if not the entirety, of the upcoming 2021-22 season. Klay Thompson’s return is also uncertain until December. These injuries have raised questions about the title contention of certain teams in the West.

The Los Angeles Lakers, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, made a bold move by acquiring Russell Westbrook, but it remains to be seen whether it will be a positive addition. The Phoenix Suns, fresh from their Finals appearance, will rely on an aging Chris Paul. The Utah Jazz boasted the best regular-season record but fell short in the playoffs. Perhaps the Dallas Mavericks or the Golden State Warriors, with Thompson’s return, can make a push to join the top tier teams in the West.

According to our (likely to be revised) projections, the Suns, Lakers, and Jazz currently hold the top spots in the West. However, the Lakers’ turbulent offseason has made them slightly less certain than the defending conference champions, the Suns. In this offseason ranking analysis, we will focus on each conference separately, with the previously published Eastern Conference rankings available from last week. All statistics mentioned are based on the 2020-21 regular season unless stated otherwise.

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Previously…

  • May 10: Sixers finish at No. 1 as the season wraps up
  • Last offseason (Nov. 28): Western Conference Power Rankings: Champs lead the way — The Lakers faced significant roster turnover as a defending champion, and coaching changes were made by the Clippers, Rockets, Pelicans, and Thunder. The Minnesota Timberwolves secured the No. 1 draft pick, while Klay Thompson encountered a second devastating injury. Additionally, Chris Paul was traded to the Phoenix Suns, Dennis Schroder to the Lakers, and Steven Adams to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Key Stats:

  • Pace: Possessions per 48 minutes (League Rank)
  • OffRtg: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
  • DefRtg: Points allowed per 100 possessions (League Rank)
  • NetRtg: Point differential per 100 possessions (League Rank)

Last season, the league averaged 99.7 possessions per team per 48 minutes, with 111.7 points scored per 100 possessions.

Please note that NBA.com’s Power Rankings, released every Monday during the season, represent one person’s opinion. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding the rankings, feel free to reach out to John Schuhmann via email or Twitter.