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El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

EE-SPN Ep. 4: NBA Western Conference Preview 2023-24

Previewing and Predicting the Western 2023-2024 NBA Season

AD: What’s up everybody? Welcome back to Ep. 4 of EE-SPN. My name is Arjun Dhruv and I’m joined here with Manas Kottakota. We got a new NBA season for you guys and we’re going to be previewing that today.

MK: Let’s kick it off talking about the Western Conference. What are your thoughts, Arjun?

AD: So I think this Western Conference is really loaded this year. I think the Suns are really good with the new edition of Bradley Beal, and the Grizzlies also; they lost Dillon Brooks which I think might benefit them in the future. But they also added players like Marcus Smart and Derrick Rose that can help on the defensive end. So I think that those two teams will be pretty good in the West along with the classic teams like the Nuggets, the Lakers and the Warriors.

MK: I must say I definitely agree with you for the top three teams that you mentioned: the Nuggets, the Suns and the Grizzlies are definitely going to be top contenders in the West. For the Western Conference Finals, I’d definitely say it’s between the Nuggets and the Suns most likely. I do see the Clippers, without injuries, and the Lakers and Warriors potentially having some success, but there are definitely more question marks when it comes to those three teams.

AD: So the Warriors made some pretty big moves this offseason, they lost Jordan Poole which I think will hurt them, but they also gained Chris Paul who’s like, future Hall of Famer. So how do you think that’s gonna affect their team?

MK: I don’t think the addition of Chris Paul will solve their problems in the playoffs because similar to Jordan Poole, Chris Paul is not a playoff performer and we’ve seen that without Jordan Poole and an additional playoff performer in the playoffs, they weren’t able to last and even make it as a second round against the Lakers. So without someone else who can back up Stephen Curry at the point guard position, I don’t think they’re gonna have much success in the postseason. 

AD: Yeah, I agree with you. I think that Chris Paul is a great passer, a great playmaker and overall a great player but when it comes to winning in the playoffs, and actually performing when it matters, I think in his career he has shown that he’s a little bit lackluster in that area. So I don’t think this addition will do much for the Warriors.

MK: So talking about some other Western Conference teams like the Clippers and the Lakers. I think Kawhi [Leonard] and Paul George, hopefully will come back through the new NBA requirements for superstars to play more games, the Clippers can definitely see more success throughout the regular season and maybe the postseason. So depending on how we see them come back from their injuries and all their skipping out on games, we might see a lot more success with the Clippers. 

AD: I feel like at the end of last season the Mavericks were a team that underperformed a little bit so what are your thoughts on how they’ll do this year?

MK: Based on how they performed last year, I don’t recall any major changes that they made to their roster. So I don’t think there’s going to be much changes to their success. So I don’t see them being in the top six. Most likely, I think they are going to be in the play-in tournament.

AD: I actually really disagree with you there because I think that now Kyrie [Irving] and Luka [Dončić] have had time to gel so I think that they will be able to be the effective duo that everyone thought they would be last year.

MK: Yeah, I still have to say I don’t agree with you. We saw Kyrie and Luka for a fair amount of time last year and we still didn’t see success. It’s not like they didn’t have enough time to gel with each other. There was definitely plenty of time and we saw that one possession, during one of the games, that they didn’t know who was supposed to be the main star of the team; they kept passing it during clutch time where one of them had to perform–

AD: All of that just takes time. So I feel like the time that they had last season will help them this season, and [ensure] that they can be a better team and the effective all-star duo that everyone thought they would be. 

MK: Well, I guess we just got to agree to disagree. But what are your thoughts on the Timberwolves, the Pelicans or the Thunder?

AD: I think those teams are a little sneaky. The Pelicans have Brandon Ingram, who’s really good. I think they might be able to make — not necessarily a deep run in the playoffs — but maybe get to like the first or second round and cause some troubles for those big powerhouse teams. I think those are the main teams that we’ll see in the play-in tournament.

MK:  have to disagree with you on the Pelicans making a second round of the playoffs. I don’t think that they have a chance at all to even make it out to play-in [the] tournament. The Timberwolves definitely might have some more success though, because they’ve had more experience in the past in the playoffs and the play-in tournament.

AD: Regarding league wide changes. We got an NBA in-season tournament this year for the first time ever, where teams will go head to head in a knockout style tournament in the middle of the season. So what are your thoughts about that?

MK: Personally, I’m not a fan of this addition to the league. I don’t think that having an in-season Tournament is beneficial. It’s just a smaller playoffs but doesn’t have much benefit to winning other than the $500,000 but I don’t think that half a million dollars is a great incentive for just an NBA player. Their salaries far exceed that. So mostly, I don’t think that it will be good for the league. 

AD: Yeah I agree; I don’t think it’s comparable to the NBA Playoffs, but I still think it’s something cool that the NBA is trying to implement. I don’t know if it’ll bring in more viewers per se but I think it’s just a cool thing to see who’s the best team in the middle of the season because some teams may play easier teams, some teams may play harder teams, so when they go head to head it’ll be nice to see who the best team is and, like, the power rankings.

MK: But in general, even if teams play [against] slightly different skill levels for other teams, the NBA standings will still reveal what teams are the best so far throughout the regular season, and just watching the games itself and see[ing] how teams play will show you more about their talent level. And the capability when it comes to their success and how much they can do [in] the postseason. So just looking at the in-season tournament won’t really be the best determiner to [see] how good a team is. 

AD: But the in-season tournament will also bring in matchups that are very highly sought after. For example, the two top seeds in the East conference are probably going to make it to the final. So they’re probably going to be very good teams; it’s probably going to be a marquee matchup. So I think that that might bring in more viewers and that might be the point of it.

MK: That’s true, but don’t you think that those matchups would happen throughout the season? Anyways, for example, Christmas games are always like games that are hyped up between two teams that [have] history. For example, last year there was a Warriors and the Grizzlies, who showed strong beef on the internet and then like the NBA matched them up together for entertainment.

AD: I still think that just the format of a tournament makes the games more hyped up and make them more pleasurable to viewers. But anyways, that’s all we got for today. Thanks for joining us on ESPN. We’ll see you guys next time where we talk more about the Eastern Conference.

About the Contributors
Arjun Dhruv
Arjun Dhruv, Sports Editor
Arjun is currently a junior and a sports editor for El Estoque. In his free time, he enjoys watching TV Shows and playing/watching sports with his friends.
Manas Kottakota
Manas Kottakota, Sports Editor
Manas is currently a junior and sports editor for El Estoque. In his free time, he enjoys biking with his friends, traveling to new places with his family and cooking.
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