The 2010-11 NBA Season Preview - The Western Conference

For years, the Western Conference has been the powerhouse part of the league. Sure, the East has managed to snatch a lot of titles but quality-wise, the West rules. The Chris Webber-led Sacramento Kings, the Kevin Garnett-led Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Scottie Pippen-led Portland Trail Blazers could have had championships had not they faced either the LA Lakers or the San Antonio Spurs.

This year, they need to be wary of the East. New ownerships and salary cap availability paved the way for the East to snatch most of their stars. And if you think claiming Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, and a ton of role players are enough, you might see another run of exits with Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul leading the way.

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15 MINNESOTA – I picked this team last but I should be wrong in the long run. If the stars line up, Darko Milicic would claim the superstar status he needs to earn. However, some people will find this statement funny. Thank goodness Kevin Love, Wesley Johnson, Jonny Flynn, and Corey Brewer will help Darko in proving himself.

14 SACRAMENTO – Arco Arena hasn’t been jovial for some time now and it looks like that trend will continue this season. Tyreke Evans should have a strong second season and DeMarcus Cousins could benefit from Sam Dalembert. Still, their lineup is too weak to fight the monster squads of the West.

13 LA CLIPPERS – Blake Griffin will finally debut in the pro ranks and combine him with Chris Kaman and you’ll get a dominant frontline. Now add that with an up and coming backcourt tandem of Eric Gordon and Baron Davis then they’ll have a good starting five. Now if only fate would help them win games…

12 GOLDEN STATE – Ranked so low? Gee, I don’t know. David Lee is something that the Warrior fans should be happy about but can Lee give the Warriors a winning season? Lee never did that with the Knicks but hopefully Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis can help each other out to give them a better chance of advancing.

11 NEW ORLEANS – Chris Paul is pouting. He wants to move to New York but the Hornets aren’t budging. They tried to lure him further by moving Darren Collison out but that’s just stupid more than anything else. I don’t see the Hornets returning to the playoffs with the lineup they have right now. Sure, they have David West, Peja Stojakavic, and Emeka Okafor… but who else?

10 PHOENIX – Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, and Grant Hill seems to be a good backcourt squad. Unfortunately, they lack the frontcourt support to bolster their chances to the top. The Suns are in familiar territory now. I bet my ball the “rebuilding” Suns would wish this season will end with at least a playoff spot.

9 MEMPHIS – Last season everyone thought they’ll be cannon fodders but for some insane reason, they proved the critics wrong. This season, last season’s All-Star Zack Randolph will again lead the Grizzlies’ charge with OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, and Marc Gasol backing him up. Hopefully Hasheem Thabeet will be a stronger player this season.

8 HOUSTON – There are reports around the net that the Rockets are poised to make a dramatic turnaround this year and I find this funny. Well… maybe if Yao Ming heals. The team if you look at it is seriously solid with Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola, Shane Battier, and Kevin Martin at the helm but for some reason, their bench is a bit soft for my liking.

7 UTAH – Deron Williams is still with the squad and still one of the finest quarterbacks in the league but the way their lineup was decimated, this could be a hard year for the Jazz. Al Jefferson seems like an able replacement for Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko should complement Al-Jeff as they wait for Memo Okur to heal but what about their bench mob?

6 OKLAHOMA CITY – People became interested with them when they almost one-upped Team Showtime during the first round of the playoffs last season. The continuing development of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Jeff Green is a thing to dread for NBA teams. While their frontcourt doesn’t draw fear, if Durant can pull off another winning season, he’s the odds-on favorite to win the MVP.

5 DENVER – They won’t admit it, but the psyche of Ski City is getting affected by Carmelo Anthony’s decision to leave the Rockies. Chauncey Billups is getting pissed at Anthony plus JR Smith, Kenyon Martin, and Nene are thinking of moving away to another place. When united they are hungry and hopefully they’ll stay that way as the season progress.

4 PORTLAND – When healthy they can administer pain. Fact is though, they aren’t. Brandon Roy is merely near 100 percent while Greg Oden will open the season with no surprise… another injury. For Oden’s sake, he’s just following Bill Walton’s career but for the Blazers, this isn’t cool. Hopefully guys like LaMarcus Aldridge Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez, Marcus Camby, and Andre Miller could pick up the slack.

3 SAN ANTONIO – Never… ever… count… the Spurs out. Sure, watching them play bores people but they are extremely effective in what they do. They will still be bannered by the triumvirate of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker but age and injuries will limit these three from doing damage. Hopefully their souped-up bench will help them in their quest to regain past glory.

2 DALLAS – If there is one team with a tendency to “Beat LA”, then it has to be this team! Dirk Nowitzki is back. Combine him with Jason Kidd, Caron Butler, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, Rodrique Beaubois, Brendan Haywood, and Tyson Chandler (acquiring him for virtually nothing) and you have a battle-tested team poised to break the glass ceiling created by the Lake Show. Their biggest problem is basically their inability to capitalize on their talent to win the big games they are in.

1 LA LAKERS – For the first time in many years, the Western Conference isn’t that powerful anymore. Saying the Lakers suck is stupid though. Kobe Bryant is still the worst enemy of non-Laker fans and Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher, Ron Artest, and Andrew Bynum will continue to execute the plays masterminded by the dreaded Zen Master, Phil Jackson. As for recruits, they have Matt Barnes, Theo Ratliff, Devin Ebanks, and Steve Blake in their stable. They are not big names but expect them to be fine additions to their three-peat hopes.

Chrisangelo, my friend whose totally rabid for the Lakers, should love me right now but let’s face it, there are powerhouse teams in this conference but only a handful of them have that swagger to go all the way. San Antonio lacks the impact of Dallas but they have the bite.

But none of them can dead-on derail the reigning World Champions.

Pissed as hell? Then say what you want to say.

Until next time…

Game over.


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