Los Angeles Lakers: Ranking the biggest threats in the West

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(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers are the favorites to repeat as NBA Champions.

The Los Angeles Lakers are the defending NBA Champions and have a serious chance of going back-to-back in the 2020-21 season. Of course, winning a title is no easy feat but the Lakers have gotten better than any other contending team this offseason.

That should be scary for the rest of the league.

However, a lot can happen over the course of an NBA season and the Lakers will have legitimate threats that they have to get past — but who is the biggest threat in the West?

With the offseason (mostly) being wrapped up, I decided to rank the Lakers’ threats in the Western Conference next season. To be completely transparent, this is essentially serving as a Western Conference standings prediction, so you know I will come back to this if I somehow nail the order.

Teams will be split into three groups: the first-round playoff matchups, the mid-tier sleepers and the legitimate threats. First, let’s give a quick mention to those that did not quite make the cut.

Quite didn’t make the cut:

Minnesota Timberwolves

I genuinely think the Minnesota Timberwolves are going to be a solid team in 2020 that just narrowly misses the playoffs. A young trio of Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards is nothing to scoff at.

Memphis Grizzlies:

The Grizzlies were right there last season but ultimately could not make the NBA Playoffs and I think the same will be true this year. The Grizzlies did not make enough improvements to jump in the standings. They will naturally get better as Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson get better, but the other teams in the West improved too much.

Utah Jazz:

I do not like the Utah Jazz heading into this season. I think Mike Conley is washed past the point of no return and I think Rudy Gobert will be playing with one foot out the door towards the end of the season. Again, I think everyone else got better while the Jazz remained the same. The West is stacked.

Houston Rockets:

I have no idea what is going to happen to the Houston Rockets. They could easily finish as high as the fourth seed in the West but I do not know if James Harden and/or Russell Westbrook will even be on the team.

For that reason, I am leaving them out of the playoff picture. There are too many variables.

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