How Competitive the Western Conference Has Been in the 2023-24 NBA Season?

How Competitive the Western Conference Has Been in the 2023-24 NBA Season image

📖 Published on: March 4th, 2024

✍️ Updated: March 5th, 2024

⏳ 7 mins read

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The Western Conference has been a beast this season, and there is no denying that it has been fun to watch for many fans out there. But with the campaign winding down to its final games, it does seem that there will be a lot of impressive games that will still unfold. But how competitive the West has been compared to the East and the previous seasons in the NBA?

 

This season has been special in the Western Conference. We have seen the rise of various teams to the top, and some teams that were contenders last year remain in contention in the West but have seen some rough stretches as well. However, it cannot be denied that teams from the first seed all the way to the 10th seed are all playing at a high level right now.

 

The Landscape: How Does the Western Conference Look in the 2023-24 Season?

 

As far as the Western Conference goes this season, this season has been quite fun to watch thanks to all the competitive teams waging war night in and night out. However, it is worth noting that this has been quite a rollercoaster ride for the teams in the West, which says a lot about how this season is going to end en route to the playoffs.

 

This season, a total of five teams is at least expected to reach or even eclipse the 50-win mark, but there is also a chance to see eight teams on that end as well. For starters, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Denver Nuggets have all passed the “40 wins before 20 losses” standard set by Phil Jackson in defining a contender in the NBA – just before March began. These three are already guaranteed to go beyond 50 wins, and the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns are well on their way to do the same.

 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander image

 

The Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks, and the New Orleans Pelicans are also projected to reach that win total, but it does seem that they could go worse down to at least 45 wins in the season. However, we also have to take the rest into account when it comes to the Western Conference, as there is now a Play-In Tournament to consider. On that end, there will be two extra teams to look at, which are the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors.

 

Ah yes, the Lakers and the Warriors – the two teams with the two greatest players on the planet are also vying for a playoff spot now more than ever. With the season winding down to its final stretch, and the Utah Jazz far behind in the race, it does seem fair to expect bigger things from these two teams as they recently made the Playoffs as well. On top of that, both Stephen Curry and LeBron James remain the greatest players in the game, which just says a lot about the challenge that they can put up when the season ends and they compete for the Play-In tournament. Let’s just say that these teams will end up with no less than 40 losses, which just says a lot about how competitive the Western Conference will look by the end of the season.

 

In Retrospect: Which Season Shown the Same Competitiveness in the Western Conference?

 

Lakers vs Suns 2010 image

 

The Western Conference has been lauded as the beast in the NBA, but you have to understand that there was a time when all of the teams were really going at each other’s throats. Back in the 2009-10 season, the Western Conference’s top 8 teams really had it rolling as all of them had 50 wins or more by the end of the campaign. The Los Angeles Lakers, who won the NBA title that time, finished with a 57-25 record, and the Dallas Mavericks were merely two games behind. On top of that, three teams – the Portland Trail Blazers, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Oklahoma City Thunder ended up with a 50-32 record to occupy the final three spots of the Playoffs.

 

This has been the most competitive version of the Western Conference in years. Imagine a Kobe Bryant-led Lakers battling against a Dirk Nowitzki-led Mavs. On top of that, it was a time when the Phoenix Suns had the Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire combo, and so did the Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony-led Denver Nuggets. You could also imagine seeing the Spurs’ prime era of Tim Duncan and the Brandon Roy version of the Trail Blazers. If you aren’t that satisfied, you should really believe that this was the time when the OKC Thunder had the young versions of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden just years before their trip to the NBA Finals.

 

Thunder vs Lakers 2010 image

 

Setting Expectations: Is the West Still Competitive Over the East?

 

So far, the Western Conference remains loaded at this point even compared to the ever-growing landscape of the East. Sure, no one will ever be able to match the Boston Celtics’ league-leading campaign this year, but the rest of the East isn’t much of a great picture compared to the West, which is why it is really easy to expect that the West will be a treat to watch in the coming postseason. It is not that long now, and you would definitely be seeing more intense playoff action from the West with all the stacked teams battling for a chance to make it to the bigger stage.

 

Thunder vs Nuggets image

 

With the season going down to its closing stretch, it does seem that there will be a lot of big stories in the Western Conference, from the final games of the season, all the way to the huge battles that will unfold come playoff time, where the intense games will definitely shape the outcome of the postseason games.

 

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