The Memphis Grizzlies will be defending the eighth seed in the Western Conference when the NBA regular season resumes in Walt Disney World later this month. Memphis will be pursued by the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, and Phoenix Suns.

Which of the aforementioned teams are under the most pressure to make the playoffs this season?

6) New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans have nothing to lose. If they make the playoffs, their dynamic young core, which includes Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and Lonzo Ball, gets a taste of playoff basketball and exposure to stiff competition. It could also get veterans across the league further considering signing with NOLA in the offseason.

If the Pelicans miss the playoffs, they’ll get a lottery selection, allowing them to add another young player to their nucleus or potentially trade for an immediate contributor.

If New Orleans comes out of the bubble healthy, it’s a win.

5) Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies have a deep-rooted young core that hasn’t come close to scratching the surface; the likes of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Dillon Brooks, Jonas Valanciunas, and Brandon Clarke aren’t going anywhere. They make for an exciting offense and play competitive team defense.

Their chances are slim against LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, but don’t be surprised if the Grizzlies take a game or two in the series; they play with the electricity to give a top-seeded team a run for its money.

It would be a bummer for the Grizzlies’ sake if they surrender the eighth seed based on them subsequently losing the chance to get playoff experience and somewhat squandering the optimism surrounding their organization. Plus, nothing is a given with the firepower in the West moving forward. Who’s to say the Grizzlies miss the playoffs next season?

4) San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are in no man’s land. On one hand, Gregg Popovich has seen it all and will have his team prepared for the league’s restart. On the other hand, the Spurs have struggled to keep up with the pack this season and will be without LaMarcus Aldridge due to a shoulder injury.

Young guards like Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, and Derrick White have been plausible sources of offense and will be leaned on to do more of the same in Aldridge’s absence. If the Spurs miss the playoffs they could add another talented youngster in the offseason.

If the lottery balls are nice to them, perhaps moving them into the top 10, they’ll have the opportunity to draft a player to build around, which will come in handy with Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan hitting the open market next summer. At the same time, Popovich, who’s on retirement watch, is going to want to defy the odds and make the playoffs — keeping his 22-year playoff streak intact. It’s an enigmatic situation.

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3) Sacramento Kings

The Kings were supposed to be a playoff team this season. Conversely, they’ve been a rollercoaster. Whether it be Buddy Hield’s shaky standing (he was benched midseason for soon-to-be free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic), Luke Walton’s first season patrolling the sideline, or the team’s rocky start, the Kings have been a disappointment.

At the same time, they won 13 of their last 20 contests prior to the NBA hiatus. They were playing well against playoff teams, playing with efficiency, and performing like the team they projected to be in training camp. Could they keep the train rolling in Florida?

At the end of the day, it’s unlikely anyone loses their job over the Kings missing the playoffs in this climate. Sacramento can pitch that they’ll get on the same page in year two of the Walton era and cite their late-season success as a step in that direction. Meanwhile, point guard De’Aaron Fox and forward Marvin Bagley are nursing injuries.

2) Phoenix Suns

The Suns’ young talent is continually touted. To their credit, they do have a lot of talent. Devin Booker is a stud; Deandre Ayton is a walking double-double; Kelly Oubre Jr. is a vibrant wing. Simultaneously, they spearhead a team that’s the 13th seed in the West.

The young talent has to turn a collective corner if a rebuild is going to yield positive results. Prior to this season, the Suns won no more than 24 games in a full season since the 2014-15 NBA season, their last campaign devoid of Booker. They’re playing better under Monty Williams at the helm, but their standing in the West is nothing to boast about.

All that said, they’ve been given a chance to quell the doubts and make the playoffs. It has essentially been an NBA offseason since the Suns took the floor: four and a half months. Maybe they play up to the moment, click more offensively, and shock the world. Doing so would be significant progress, and it would get their team some big-game exposure.

1) Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers went into this season as one of the favorites to win the West. Instead, they’re most likely battling for a chance to face off with the eighth-seeded Grizzlies to merely make the playoffs.

This team has been through a lot in recent memory: trips to the second round of the playoffs, first-round disappointments, losing playoff games in brutal fashion, and prominent free agents leaving in free agency.

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are one of the NBA’s best star duos; Hassan Whiteside is a premier big man; Carmelo Anthony is a reliable scorer; head coach Terry Stotts has a rotation of proven commodities. The Trail Blazers should be better than 29-37.

The West is growing stronger, and the Trail Blazers are one of the teams who could fall victim to that development given their core is in its prime and perhaps within reach of a rebuild by means of trading their stars. At some point, your championship window closes. That said, the Trail Blazers control their own destiny by making the playoffs. Get to the playoffs, where games are going to be played without fans, and go from there.