INSIDER – Question 12 of 20 Q’s to Jazz Camp – Who makes the playoffs in the West?

Today is question 12 of 20 questions to Jazz camp. If you have a question please submit it to me at dlocke@utahjazz.com or via twitter @lockedonsports or facebook Locked on Sports

QUESTION 12 –Who are the playoff teams in the West this year?

League rules say we can only have 8 in the conference and this moment it feels there are a lot more than 8. Can the West have 11 playoff teams?

The top tier of 3 are the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs. All could be good enough to win 60 games.

The next 5 teams last year finished within 5 games of each other in the standings, Memphis, the Clippers, Denver, Dallas and Utah.

Memphis lost OJ Mayo and is one of the few teams whose roster looks less potent then it did a year ago. However, a healthy Zach Randolph and the strength of Rudy Gay, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol makes it hard to believe the Grizzlies don’t make the playoffs.

Chris Paul is a maestro. He was the 2nd best player in the NBA last year, yes I understand how great Kevin Durant was, but CP3 was insane. The Clippers have gotten older and have some players slipping Barnes, Hill, Odom and Butler but with CP3 you have to believe that is a playoff team.

Denver added Andre Iguodala and have an incredibly athletic line-up. If they figure out how to close games they could be the surprise team in the West and have an emerging star in Danilo Gallinari.

Dallas lost the clutchest player in the NBA and Jason Terry and have added lots of different pieces, OJ Mayo, Elton Brand and Chris Kaman. However, they will go as Dirk goes. Dirk had a very poor year coming off the title season, he is still one of the NBA’s best and is the star that carries a team to the playoffs.

We know Utah and then you have Minnesota, Golden State, an emerging New Orleans and possibly Phoenix all believing they have a chance to get into this mix.

Minnesota has made the biggest changes adding Andrei Kirilenko and Brandon Roy replacing the worst set of wings in the NBA. When and how Ricky Rubio comes back from his ACL will dictate their season. Rick Adelman is one of the best coaches in the NBA and will have the Wolves in the hunt.

The Warriors are completely re-tooled and if Curry and Bogut stay healthy they might have enough fire power with David Lee, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes and a really deep bench.

If the Hornets don’t make the playoffs this year it might be the last time we say that for a long time. Anthony Davis is the real deal and will be a game changer. Monty Williams is a super coach to match with Davis. The games will be slow, defensive and tight. The pieces are in place, an emerging star in Eric Gordon who can make plays late, a young guard in Austin Rivers, a spread four in Ryan Anderson and another big in Robin Lopez. The Jazz are fortunate to get two games early with the Hornets.

Finally, Phoenix is the wild card. A starting line-up of Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley Michael Beasley, Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat might be able to hover around 41 wins.

That leaves 12 playoff teams for 8 spots. The crazy thing to consider is if the top 3 are as dominate as most people think and win in the high 50’s to 60’s then the spots 4 thru 12 could all be between 47 to 40 wins.