The Western Conference is going to be brutal this season. A gauntlet. A nightmare. An acid test. A baptism of fire for young players. I could go on forever with cliches, but you get the idea. Making the playoffs will not be easy and will likely require 45+ wins at least.
Most prognosticators have the Mavericks on the outside looking in at the postseason. Luka Doncic doesn’t see it that way, as he said in a recent interview.
Dallas has a shot at the postseason, but a lot of things need to go right. That starts with Doncic coming back in better shape, helping him play faster and be better on the defensive end, and being the team’s leader. Kristaps Porzingis has to get back to being a 7’3″ unicorn following his ACL surgery. Seth Curry, Delon Wright, and Justin Jackson all need to step up in their roles.
And there is no margin for error in the West.
Eight teams make the playoffs, and it’s safe to say seven teams should be postseason locks (in no particular order): Clippers, Lakers, Rockets, Jazz, Nuggets, Trail Blazers, and Warriors. That leaves one playoff spot for the Kings, Mavericks, Pelicans, and Timberwolves to chase (Phoenix would like to be on that list, too, I’m just not sold). Injuries, trades, and other things unexpected will shake up the West, but no matter what it will be deep with good teams. More teams will be playoff worthy than will make the cut.
We’ll see if Doncic is able to will Dallas into one of those playoff slots.