LeBron James has changed the paradigm in the NBA by heading to the Lakers, but how much effect does he have on the Western Conference playoff standings? With the caveat that there are still a lot of moves to be made by the time everything has shaken out, here’s what I’ve got for how the Western Conference playoffs will be seeded at the end of the regular season next year.
Adding DeMarcus Cousins matters more for the playoffs than the regular season, where he’ll be out till after the New Year.
It’s a tossup about whether to put the Warriors or the Rockets as the top seed here. Houston finished seven games ahead of Golden State this past season. This is basically a guess that a) Steve Kerr warns the Warriors that they were down big at halftime of Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals and extracts more regular season urgency out of them, and b) the Rockets pace Chris Paul more to hopefully keep him healthy at the time they need him.
The Rockets were 65-17 this past season. I dunno, I just don’t see them maintaining that torrid pace. As I just alluded to in the Warriors section, they should use Chris Paul like the Astros used Roger Clemens in 2006. Like, let him sit the whole first half of the year and pray that his legs are working when it’s time to have the rematch with the Warriors in late May.