The West isn’t as strong as its been overall in recent years, but the top of the conference remains extremely competitive. Earning a top-four seed and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs won’t be easy for teams that are looking to make a deep postseason run. 

With the 2019-2020 NBA season past the midway point, the Los Angeles Lakers (35-9) sit firmly atop the West standings. LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined to score 49 points in a Wednesday night victory over the New York Knicks (12-33) that helped the Lakers maintain a four-game lead as the conference’s No. 1 seed.

The Utah Jazz (31-13) defeated the Golden State Warriors (10-36), who own the league’s worst record, to move up to the No. 2 seed. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert have both had All-Star caliber seasons. It’s important for the Jazz that they have home-court advantage in the playoffs, given their record in Utah (17-3) and on the road (14-10).

The Los Angeles Clippers (31-14) are a half-game behind Utah as the No. 3 seed. The team lost Wednesday night with both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George sidelined, once again. The two stars have only played 18 games together.

The Denver Nuggets (30-14) are the No. 4 seed, though they’ve spent plenty of time in the No. 2 spot. The Lakers, Jazz and Clippers all rank in the top eight in both offensive and defensive rating. The Nuggets are 10th in offense and 12th in defense. 

The Dallas Mavericks (27-16) have the NBA’s top offense by a good margin, scoring 116.0 points per 100 possessions. It doesn’t put them in the West’s top four because of a defense that ranks 16th in the NBA. Luka Doncic is a top-four MVP candidate, at worst.

James Harden is in the MVP discussion, as always, but the Houston Rockets (27-16) might not host Game 1 of a playoff series for the first time in four years. Houston is third in offense and 15th in defense. Harden leads the league with 36.6 points per game. Russell Westbrook is averaging 25.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.3 assists per contest.

The Oklahoma City Thunder (26-19) are only two games behind Houston for the No. 6 seed. Every other team in the West is below .500 with no real chance to finish higher than eighth in the West.