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#pounditTuesday, June 6, 2023

Insane fact about this year’s Western Conference playoff race goes viral

Devin Booker looks on

This year’s Western Conference standings are hard to believe … if you arrived here in a time machine from 2018.

A mind-blowing fact shared by ESPN (and originally posted by Reddit user xBootstrap) went viral this week. The Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies, and Dallas Mavericks sit atop the West right now, and (as of Friday afternoon) are the only three teams in the conference to have clinched a playoff spot so far. Shockingly enough, those same three teams were the worst three teams in the West in the 2017-18 season.

All three of those teams used some home-run drafting to get themselves out of their respective predicaments. In that very same year, the Suns drafted Deandre Ayton, the Grizzlies drafted Jaren Jackson Jr. (and Ja Morant the very next year), and the Mavericks drafted Luka Doncic (technically Trae Young, but they immediately flipped him to Atlanta for Doncic).

Other smart decisions and investments also paid off big-time for the three teams. Phoenix developed Devin Booker into an elite player and eventually acquired Chris Paul to be his wingman, Memphis hit on lower draftees like Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks, and Dallas found diamonds in the rough of their own such as Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith.

While those three clubs were the laughingstocks of the NBA seemingly not all that long ago, it is a testament to their savvy management and culture-building skills that they now run the West in a true changing of the guard.

Photo: Mar 3, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker prior to the game against the Toronto Raptors at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


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