After writing about the NBA Eastern Conference's Three Rising Teams of 2009-10, I have decided to go ahead and give my two cents on the Western Conference and two teams (that did not make the playoffs) that have an opportunity to break into possible contention for the playoffs.
Whaaat? The Warriors? No way, the team that won less than 30 games last season is going to compete for a seed in the postseason this year?
In all honesty, the Warriors do indeed have a chance to make the playoffs this season.
Golden State's core consists of two veterans (Jackson and Maggette) and a vast amount of young potential.
Athletes like rookie Stephen Curry, point guard C.J. Watson, Anthony Morrow, Brandan Wright, and especially Anthony Randolph each have extreme upside to emerge as top-notch players in the game.
Standing 6'10", Randolph finally received the liberty to show his supreme versatility during the second half of last season, posting consistent double-doubles, including an above-average amount of steals and blocks per game.
Aside from the young guns, the Warriors also have trouble-maker Monta Ellis on their squad. Once Ellis puts all his focus back onto his game, he will once again emerge as a top-tier shooting guard in the NBA.
In addition, Golden State also has the Latvian center Andris Biedrins, who enjoyed a breakout season last year by posting career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game and averaged a double-double on the season.
On paper, the Warriors look like a solid team and one that should be able to compete during the upcoming season. If the injury bug avoids their players, Golden State could be in for an exciting and amped-up season.
Believe it or not, the Clippers look like a legit team heading into the 2009-10 season. Yes, analysts were stating the same thing last offseason, but this year is completely different.
How, might you ask, has the team changed from having a 23.2 percent winning percentage from just one season ago to possibly contending for a playoff seed?
Well, the answer is rather simple; it's called gaining more experience and acquiring a player named Blake Griffin.
With a revamped Baron Davis running the point, the Clippers can expect BD to return to his top-five point guard form, if he can stay healthy all year long.
Along with B-Diddy, LA is another team suffocated with young talent. Players like shooting guard Eric Gordon and small forward Al Thornton each proved their worth last season, when they both averaged 16-plus points per game.
Gordon showed excellent shooting consistency, draining 45.6 percent of his shots and 85.4 percent of his free throws while knocking down 131 total three-pointers.
The 6'8" Al Thornton also stepped up his role last season with career numbers: 16.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.5 APG, 44.6% FG%, 37.4 MPG.
Centers Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman are also determined to make a statement this season. After each going down with a nagging injury last year, the big men are out to show that nothing will not prevent them from making a serious impact this season.
Last but not least, the main reason that the Clippers will have any hope in making it to the postseason will be because of rookie forward Blake Griffin.
After seeing Griffin absolutely annihilate every college athlete while playing for Oklahoma, it looks like the young forward is more than ready to step into the starting role for LA.
With his incredible stature and unimaginable mindset, Griffin will look to show the NBA world that he is the real deal.
If the Clippers can keep their heads up high and put in the effort throughout the season, they will be a team that competes for the title during the playoffs.