Jay Williams would take the Lakers over the Warriors to win the Western Conference

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

ESPN NBA analyst Jay Williams would take the Los Angeles Lakers to win the Western Conference over the Golden State Warriors right now.

Williams pointed out the massive step forward the Lakers have taken defensively as of late as one of his main reasons for the pick.

“Since the trade deadline, their defensive rating is 109.1,” Williams said. “It’s the best in the NBA. When they’re healthy, with the addition of Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, [Jarred] Vanderbilt, all these pieces on the wings defensively, they’re the best defensive team.”

There’s no doubt that the Lakers’ deadline moves have set the team up for success late in the 2022-23 season. The other key for Los Angeles is health, and LeBron James and Anthony Davis are both in the lineup for the stretch run.

James returned on Sunday from a foot injury that had sidelined him since he injured it against Dallas on Feb. 26.

Williams also broke down why he thinks the Warriors won’t win the West, starting with the team’s absence of Andrew Wiggins.

“The one thing that worries me about the Golden State Warriors, that is the biggest story that nobody is really talking about on the national media in the NBA is the loss of Andrew Wiggins for this team, and nobody knows, Greeny (Mike Greenberg), when he’s coming back,” Williams said.

Both Williams and Greenberg believe that Golden State has “no chance” if Wiggins can’t return this season.

Wiggins was one of Golden State’s best players in the 2022 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics last season. He averaged 18.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in the series.

The other issue for Golden State is replacing Wiggins defensively on the wing. The Lakers, now that they have a different roster than the start of the season, have many more options to defend some of the best wings in the West.

Both Golden State and Los Angeles are outside of the top spots in the conference with just a few games left in the 2022-23 season.

Los Angeles holds the No. 9 seed in the West, while the Warriors are just ahead of the league’s play-in tournament standings with the No. 6 seed.

Both the Lakers and Warriors would need to pull off upsets to get to the 2023 NBA Finals, but Williams thinks James and the Lakers are better equipped to get the job done this season.

Los Angeles needs to take care of business to end the regular season, starting with Friday night’s game against Minnesota, to make Williams’ prediction a reality.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.