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Western Conference No. 8 Seed Contender Power Rankings With Return of Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson
With Zion Williamson's return, the hunt for the 8th seed just got even more interesting. | Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The NBA's Western Conference is starting to see a divide after the top seven teams, but the eighth seed (and final playoff spot) seems to be wide open. In fact, seeds 8-12 are all within 3.5 games of each other. And now with the return of Zion Williamson, the fight just got even more interesting.

Here are the power rankings for the five most likely teams to grab the No. 8 seed.

5. Phoenix Suns

Kelly Oubre Jr., Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges
If the Phoenix Suns turn on the gas they had in the beginning, they may be able to steal the spot. | Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Suns started off the season 7-4, but since then have gone 11-21 to dial them back to the 11th seed. Even with Deandre Ayton back and Devin Booker putting up huge numbers, the team has still hovered around .500. With the other teams gaining traction, the Suns are likely going to be looking from the outside-in for yet another year.

4. Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum
Led by Lillard and McCollum, the Blazers can sneak back into the postseason. | Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are both having great individual seasons, however, the team cannot seem to replicate the same success as last year. Maybe this is due to Jusuf Nurkic's absence, or perhaps losing multiple rotation pieces over the summer. Whatever the reason, unless the Blazers start stringing together win streaks, the team will be watching the postseason from the couch.

3. New Orleans Pelicans

Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-walker
With Zion Williamson back, the young core may lead the Pelicans back into the playoffs. | Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Pelicans may be the biggest wild card of the bunch. They currently have the worst record of the group, but with over 35 games to go, this may not mean much. Moreover, the addition of Zion Williamson to Brandon Ingram and the recent spectacular play of Lonzo Ball could turn the franchise around. Look for the hungry and unproven Pelicans to make a big push for the playoffs.

2. San Antonio Spurs

DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge
The Spurs believe the duo of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge can lead them to the postseason. | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs are a well-oiled machine thanks to coach Gregg Popovich, and in the past that may have been enough to propel them into the last playoff spot. Even though LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar Derozan have been willing the team back into contention recently, with Zion back for the Pelicans and Morant on a tear for the Grizz, the Spurs need other players to step up if they want the last seed.

1. Memphis Grizzlies

Grizzlies fans are hoping Morant and Jackson can lead them to the promised land.
Grizzlies fans are hoping Morant and Jackson can lead them to the promised land. | Brandon Dill/Getty Images

The Grizzlies' duo of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant has been getting better and better as the season continues, and Memphis has won seven of their last eight. With the team playing better as a whole, and Rookie of the Year frontrunner Morant flourishing as the leader of the revamped Grizz, Memphis could find itself back in the playoffs at season's end.