As the 2019 NBA offseason comes to a close, we’re left with a wide open western conference. Almost every team in the western conference could push for the playoffs this upcoming season. There are the clear favorites in the conference with the Lebron and Anthony Davis led Lakers, and the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George led Clippers. Houston could also be a contender depending on how well Westbrook and Harden pair up. Denver showed a ton of promise last season, and with how young their roster is, they could get even better. To your average NBA fans, those are the clear frontrunners, but there are a handful of other teams that made plenty of great moves this offseason, that are currently being overlooked.
1.) San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs are a team that are often overlooked by the fans and media. They’re known for their unselfish brand of basketball, which doesn’t appeal to the average fan. Despite having an injury plagued season last year, they finished as the 7th seed. They lost Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker IV, and Derrick White, all of whom could’ve help push them even higher. They had a solid year last season, finishing with 48 wins, but losing in the first round to the Denver Nuggets.
The Spurs had a low profile offseason, only making a handful of signings. They resigned Rudy Gay for 2 years, $32 million and signed DeMarre Carroll to a 3 year, $21 million deal. The Spurs traded forward Davis Bertans to the Wizards (because they thought they were going to have Marcus Morris), and signed former Denver Nuggets forward Trey Lyles to add to their depth (and to fill that Marcus Morris void). This Spurs team has star power with LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, both of whom are former All-NBA players. Their core consists of promising young players like Dejounte Murray, Luka Samanic, Bryn Forbes, and Derrick White. This group has played together for a few years now (for the most part), and won’t have to deal with the growing pains that other western conference teams will. They’re young an talented, and you can never count out a Gregg Popovich led team.
2.) Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings franchise has been down on their luck in recent years ; not having a playoff appearance since the 2007. The Kings narrowly missed the playoffs last year finishing as the 9th seed, only 9 games away from the 8th seed ; going 3-7 in their final 10 games. The Kings themselves don’t have any established stars yet, but players like De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley could develop into that for them. They lost their starting center Willy Cauley-Stein, but signed veteran center Dewayne Dedmon to fill the spot. They also signed Trevor Ariza and Cory Joseph to add some veterans off the bench. With these new acquisitions, and an ever improving cast of young stars this is a team that you can’t count out heading into next season.
3.) Utah Jazz
The Jazz are a lock for the playoffs this year with the additions of Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdonavic, but they could potentially make some noise in the playoffs as well. Their big three of Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Mike Conley is one of the best in league, even though they don’t get the credit they deserve. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert alone led the Jazz to the playoffs in both of Mitchell’s first 2 seasons, losing to the Houston Rockets both years. They added Mike Conley in place of Ricky Rubio, Bojan Bogdanovic in place of Derrick Favors, added Ed Davis, Jeff Green, and Emmanuel Mudiay to their bench, on top of their already extremely solid core. Utah is one of the deepest teams in the Western Conference, and they could be in title contention next season if this team meshes well.
Big market teams like LA and Brooklyn alway get all the attention and hype, but hype doesn’t win basketball games, talent does. The Spurs, Kings, and Jazz all have plenty of talent on their rosters, but don’t get recognized for it. The Spurs are on of the most consistent teams in NBA history, Sacramento has a very solid young core with something to prove, and Utah may just be the deepest team in the entire league. All 3 of these teams have potential to make some noise in the Western Conference next season, even if it’s not being recognized by the media.