Yesterday I wrote the Eastern Conference Power Rankings. Now it is the West's turn. Here it goes:
1) Los Angeles Lakers
This team made the Finals last year playing without Andrew Bynum. Now that he is back, the Lakers are favorites to win it all.
The only question is what role Lamar Odom will play. But it doesn't really matter. Whether Odom starts or comes off the bench as a sixth man, the Lakers are still the top team in not only the conference, but the league.
2) New Orleans Hornets
If the Hornets are going to make a championship run, this is the year. They have the best point guard in the league in Chris Paul, and their signing of James Posey gave this team exactly what it needed—a clutch performer.
3) Houston Rockets
I had this team at second before T-Mac announced that he is still having problems with knee and shoulder injuries. If Yao and McGrady can stay healthy, the Rockets should be good enough to finally get past the first round of the playoffs.
The Rockets were one of the best defensive teams in '07-08, and now have one of the best defenders in Ron Artest, who will be on his best behavior—he wants to win games this year.
4) Utah Jazz
With all the rumours about Carlos Boozer leaving in 2009, the Jazz need to win now. They are going to do well, but they need to try secure home-court advantage in the playoffs—otherwise it could be tough for them in the postseason.
5) San Antonio Spurs
Every year, people say the Spurs are too old and are past their prime. It may be true that they are past their prime, but Tim Duncan always gets his team into the playoffs. Can he do it with Manu Ginobili on the sidelines with an ankle injury?
6) Portland Trail Blazers
Portland has so many young guns that their biggest problem will be finding enough minutes to go around. With Greg Oden returning and Rudy Fernandez coming over from Spain, the Blazers should definitely improve on last season's 41-41 record. Trail Blazers fans should be excited.
7) Phoenix Suns
Since Shawn Marion left, Phoenix hasn't been the same. New coach Terry Porter will probably have less run and gun, but he should improve the defense—something the Suns have struggled with. This team could go either way—they might dominate, but there is also a possibility that it won't work out. I don't think they'll dominate, but they'll still be a playoff team.
8) Dallas Mavericks
Like Phoenix, it is hard to predict what will happen with the Mavs. If Jason Kidd is healthy, Dallas will make the playoffs—but there are other teams not far behind, so they can't afford a major slip. It may be time for Mark Cuban to consider another roster shakeup.
9) Los Angeles Clippers
Having Baron Davis and Marcus Camby is going to be huge. On paper, the Clippers' roster is very deep. The other starters—Chris Kaman, Al Thornton, and Cuttino Mobley—are all very solid.
Tim Thomas and Ricky Davis may end up as starters, but even if they don't, they'll contribute. For the first time in a long time, fans can be optimistic about the Clippers.
10) Denver Nuggets
By all reports, the Marcus Camby trade didn't go down too well. There were rumours a few weeks ago about a possible 'Melo trade, now there are rumours that Allen Iverson could be traded. This team was not good defensively, but they practically gave away their best defensive player in Camby.
Denver needs to work out what they are going to do next, because they need to make some changes.
11) Golden State Warriors
Losing Baron Davis will hurt, especially since Monta Ellis will miss time due to injuries sustained in his moped accident. There is a huge lack of defense, and it's going to take time for this team to return to its former glory.
12) Sacramento Kings
Trading Ron Artest to Houston won't help on the defensive end of the court, but it has one advantage—Kevin Martin will have to step up and be the leader of this team, but the Kings will need a lot of intensity on defense. Otherwise, they will really struggle without Artest.
13) Memphis Grizzlies
Last year the Grizzlies were one of the worst defensive teams. This has got to change. I'm sure they realize this and will work harder on D, and maybe be an okay defensive team.
Memphis needs to use their speed to their advantage, because let's face it—they don't have many other options. Things would be better if the ownership wasn't obsessed with cutting costs regardless of the product they put on the court.
14) Minnesota Timberwolves
Al Jefferson is a great player, and may even be an All-Star next season—but he plays on a team that is one of the worst teams in the league on both offense and defense.
They should be better than last year, mainly because Jefferson will have improved and Kevin Love is ready to contribute. But the Timberwolves have a long way to go.
15) Oklahoma City Thunder
This young team needs more defense. This season will be more focused on developing young players than winning lots of games.
Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Russell Westbrook can all be great, but the Thunder need to give Green plenty of minutes, and Westbrook time to develop as a point guard.
And by the way, the new uniforms suck.
You may also like to check out the Eastern Conference Power Rankings.
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