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NBA 2020-21: Who goes furthest in the West?

Luka Doncic looks to pass during the Dallas Mavericks' first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers
Image: Luka Doncic looks to pass during the Dallas Mavericks' first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers

With the marathon 2019-20 NBA season in the books and the Los Angeles Lakers crowned champions for a record-equalling 17th time, thoughts turn to the 2020-21 season and the teams best placed to make deep playoff runs.

On the season's final edition of Heatcheck, Sky Sports' weekly NBA debate show, regulars BJ Armstrong and Ovie Soko were asked for their takes on the 2020-21 potential of a selection of heavyweight Western Conference teams, including Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks.

Who goes furthest: Mavericks or Rockets?

Luka Doncic 1:48
Which Western Conference team will go further in the 2020-21 postseason, the Dallas Mavericks or the Houston Rockets? BJ Armstrong shares his thoughts

Armstrong: You threw me a softball with this one - it's the Dallas Mavericks, without question. Luka Doncic is ready! He earned his stripes this year. He took on the physicality of the game and he did it ahead of schedule.

The Dallas Mavericks have an opportunity to play in the playoffs and compete at the highest level. They were able to have a positive experience, even without Kristaps Porzingis for the most part who was injured during the stretch when they played the LA Clippers.

Luka Doncic Dallas Mavs 0:39
Luka Doncic beat the buzzer in overtime to level the Dallas Mavericks' playoff against the LA Clippers

This is an important offseason for the Mavericks. Next summer is important for them too. They are in a position to really attract a big-time player. Doncic is a top-five player now. He can score, he has the mental capacity to play the game with the toughness that is necessary and he can get things done.

If I am a star player and I am not happy in my current situation, (Doncic) would be a player I would look to play with. You put a star player, a top 10 player around Doncic, you are talking about doing something special.

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The Dallas Mavericks are in a great position. I love their salary cap situation. They have an opportunity to be very attractive to a top-tier player in his league who could propel them (forward) for the next five to seven years and really make a run at (a title).

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Who goes furthest: Warriors or Clippers?

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in action for the Golden State Warriors 1:28
Who goes further in the 2020-21 playoffs, the Golden State Warriors or the LA Clippers? Ovie Soko has his say

Soko: I can see the Warriors going further. I saw that because of chemistry.

The Clippers falling short of their goals this season will affect their chemistry. Will they bring guys back or not? That will definitely be a factor. If they run into trouble early next season, that could also have an effect on their locker room. We are yet to see what changes they are going make (in terms of their roster).

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The Warriors, with the culture they have there, have a healthy locker room. With two huge pieces (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) coming back and with a top draft pick, I think they will be able to make some noise. It will be good to have the Splash Brothers back.

Who goes furthest: Nuggets or Trail Blazers?

Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers handles the ball against the Denver Nuggets on August 6, 2020 at Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. 1:20
Who goes further in the 2020-21 playoffs, the Denver Nuggets or the Portland Trail Blazers? Ovie Soko shares his take

Soko: I've got the Denver Nuggets here. With a superstar like Nikola Jokic and the way he makes plays, they can run their offense comfortably through the five-man (center) which is something you don't see very often.

With the emergence of Jamal Murray in the playoffs and their other young players, Denver are going to be a problem next season. The bubble was definitely a confidence booster for a lot of young guys.

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That's not to say I don't think Portland will do well, but the Nuggets are really onto something. I can see the Trail Blazers getting to the playoffs again and running into issues but Denver could be a real dark horse in 2020-21.

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