8. Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz would be much higher on this list were it not for the improvements other teams made in the Western Conference. For starters, this is a team that has made the playoffs in back to back seasons led by the trio of Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, and Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.
They also made significant improvements by adding All-Star Mike Conley and former Indiana Pacer Bojan Bogdanovic. Conley is a great player and will certainly garner the attention as he is the All-Star but Bogdanovic is very underrated. He was the reason the Pacers made the playoffs without Oladipo as he averaged 20+ points per game post the All-Star break, while shooting 42.5% from three on the season.
The Jazz are certainly going to be a force however I think there are questions about how Mitchell will be able to play with Conley and Bogdanovic. Mitchell is very ball dominant and is used to having the ball in his hands, as he had the 5th most field goals attempts per game last season. He will have to find a way to play off the ball with a passer such as Conley and another dynamic scorer such as Bogdanovic. They will certainly have to build chemistry and find ways to adapt their games, while competing in a much tougher Western Conference.
7. Portland Trailblazers
The Blazers are a team I feel everyone is forgetting about going into the season. But we shouldn’t forget the fact that they finished 3rd in the West and made it to the Western Conference Finals. They managed to defeat a very good Denver Nuggets team in the post-season on the Nuggets own home floor, which is nothing to sneeze at.
They also didn’t really suffer many losses in free agency, and added Hassan Whiteside and Pau Gasol as well. Gasol surely won’t be relied upon to play significant minutes but Whiteside could very well improve their front line. Portland arguably didn’t get better in the off-season which is why I have them ranked so low on this list because many other teams in the West made significant moves and they’ve essentially stood pat. I like CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard but in my opinion we also have seen the ceiling of where this pair will go.
Next: Nos. 5-6