Feel a bit like a cheater in doing this, since the season is already two weeks old, but here is my Western Conference preview. With the exception of the hot start by the Suns the West is falling into line as was expected.
1. OKC: Westbrook shocked the world by coming back early. The same suspects are back. Admittedly I am growing tired of this roster. I love KD and want to see him carry them with some whirl ball on the side from Westbrook. The rest of the roster is blah. Steven Adams is an energy piece who should compliment the aging Nick Collison.
2. San Antonio: Every year we sleep on the bland Spurs. And they prove us all wrong. Health will be the issue in the Alamo. Haven't seen the big leap from Leonard as of yet.
3. Golden State: Curry's ankle really scares me but I give the Warriors a slight edge over the Clips. The roster is deep. Iguduoala and Bogut fill defensive rolls which are a big help to this offensively helter sklelter roster.
4. Clippers: The new pieces, Dudley and Reddick, look great on the offensive end as compliments to Paul and the bigs. However, defense is still an issue with this team. Jordan cannot be trusted. Will Griffin take the next step and become a game changer? This team slides.
5. Memphis: They will find their way eventually and end the year as an overlooked team. Starting Prince is a huge problem.
6. Houston: This "good on paper team" reminds me of last years Lakers. Ha Dwight! Love the pieces but defense has and probably will be atrocious. Thinking Dwight never had what it took and certainly won't find it.
7. Wolves: Love and Rubio are back and it is beautiful to watch. Martin gives them a proven scoring alternative. Brewer adds some lanky defense to the mix. Buy low and sell high on this unit, I fear as history has proven, that injuries will play a role in Minny.
8. Portland: Back in the playoffs led by a forgotten by location star (Aldridge) and a rising star (Lillard). The complimentary pieces around the stars, Mathews and Batum), are phenomenal. The bench now has some punch. Hopefully, Robin Lopez can continue to add some toughness inside.
In the mix:
9. New Orleans: Anthony Davis has been spectacular and is a star. Still not sure how all the sticky fingers( Evans, Holiday, Gordon) fit. They will be in the race.
10. Lakers: Treading water at this point. Kobe\s return is the ultimate wild card. If they can play .500 ball until he returns and he comes back ass himself, stranger things have happened.
11. Dallas: Monta has been behaved with the ball thus far! What? This team could go on a Dirk/Monta fueled run and sneak into the playoffs.