Ranking 5 tiers of the NBA Western Conference: Where do the new-look Mavs land?

After splitting up the NBA Western Conference into five tiers based on competitiveness, where do the Dallas Mavericks land?
Luka Doncic
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In the Playoff Race

The teams in this category are most likely to fall in the five through ten range of the NBA standings. They are legitimate playoff contenders but don't have a realistic chance of competing for a championship.

New Orleans Pelicans

Notable players lost: None

Notable players added: Jordan Hawkins, Cody Zeller

The Pelicans have a lot of talent on paper. The biggest question surrounding New Orleans is whether or not Zion Williamson can stay healthy. He has played a total of 114 games since being drafted four seasons ago. One issue this creates, aside from the obvious loss of his talents when he isn't on the floor, is chemistry.

The Pelicans operate differently when he is on the floor versus when he is injured. A season of health for Williamson and the Pelicans could potentially move them to a higher category, but until that happens, they will remain here.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Notable players lost: Taurean Prince

Notable players added: Shake Milton, Troy Brown Jr.

The Timberwolves implemented a new "Twin Towers" strategy last season by trading for Rudy Gobert to go along with Karl-Anthony Towns and backup Naz Reid. Towns was injured for a good chunk of the season, and the experiment didn't exactly work out as planned.

They have great young talent on the wing with Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels, but it wasn't enough to take them past the first round of the playoffs. Until they either trade one of their bigs or figure out how to make their lineup work more consistently, they will remain in this category.

LA Clippers

Notable players lost: Eric Gordon

Notable players added: Kenyon Martin Jr.

The Clippers situation is simple - they need Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to stay healthy and play a majority of their games. The problem is, they haven't shown they can do that. Their roster has the talent to potentially contend for a title, but their stars need to be able to stay on the court.