2010-2011 NBA Season Preview: Western Conference

GackSports.comContributor IJuly 30, 2010

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Let’s take a look at the upcoming NBA season and rank the 15 teams of the Western Conference. Who is #1? who is #15? Nothing is set in stone, but as of today, here are where they rank:

No. 15, Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves are essentially the same team as they were last year. The only exception is they just traded away their best player, Al Jefferson. They still have a talented young group of players and they also acquired Michael Beasley, who is yet to prove his worth as a former No. 2 overall pick. Watch for this team to compete, but don’t expect them to go anywhere.

No. 14, Sacramento Kings
The Kings have a few good pieces and they got even better with their 5th overall draft pick, DeMarcus Cousins. He and Tyreke Evans will make a nice pair, but just like Minnesota, they are young and inexperienced. Watch for Sacramento to make some noise in a few years.

No. 13, New Orleans Hornets
Last year, the Hornets did not make the playoffs and that was because Chris Paul was injured. Look for this team to climb up the ranks, but also look for 2nd year point guard, Darren Collison, to challenge Chris Paul for playing time. Collison picked up the reigns after Paul went down. Friction between the stars will eventually ruin the team. Either trade Paul or let New Orleans fall into ruin. Also, New Orleans has left Paul without a coach he can really trust, as the Hornets fired Byron Scott after a slow start.

No. 12, Golden State Warriors
They were just bought for a record $450 million and might move to Las Vegas, but since they are still the Golden State Warriors, they will still be at number 12. They still have Stephen Curry, Monte Ellis, and just acquired all-star David Lee from New York. This team finally has a decent inside-outside presence that will be harder to guard while playing Nellie Ball.

No. 11, Memphis Grizzlies
Last year wasn’t a fluke, the Grizzlies were something other than bad. Although they didn’t make the playoffs they were good enough to be decent. Essentially the same team, watch out for an improved O.J. Mayo and the rise of Marc Gasol. Rudy Gay will be his dominant self and make another run as an all-star.

No. 10, Houston Rockets
Yao Ming will be back, but what does that mean for the Rockets? They have Aaron Brooks and Trevor Ariza signed on to help with the scoring, and Kevin Martin will be a year into his time with Houston to provide a formidable 1-2-3 option. Look for them to make a run, but don’t put them anywhere near the top.

No. 9, Los Angeles Clippers
The other team in LA will be good next year but will come up a little short in the playoff race. The Clippers will have Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Chris Kamen, and finally, Blake Griffin. They will be a strong team, but the only thing stopping them from getting into the playoffs is themselves; they are the Clippers, after all. Essentially, The Clips are a cheap version of the Lakers.

No. 8, San Antonio Spurs
The oldest team in the NBA just got another year older. Tim Duncan is waning out, Manu Ginobili is tired, and Tony Parker is still in awe of being married to Eva Longoria. However, they are a team with 4 championships and a future hall-of-famer in Tim Duncan, so watch out, the old dog still has a nasty bite.

No. 7, Portland Trailblazers
This is Brandon Roy’s team, and this team is stacked. They managed to win 50 games last year, all with injures to key players. What would happen when they are all healthy? Check out this lineup: Brandon Roy at guard, LaMarcus Aldridge at PF, Marcus Camby at C, and finally a healthy Greg Oden! This team will be making a run, but hold on… they are only number 7.

No. 6, Oklahoma City Thunder
Last year the Thunder gave the Lakers a very hard time in the playoffs. They have an all-star in Kevin Durant who is a scoring machine, Russell Westbrook who can get by anybody, Jeff Green who can handle the 3 spot with the best of them, and 2nd year player James Harden who will blossom into something great. Look for this team to dominate the western conference…but not just yet.

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