Not that the regular season makes much difference, but which team will be the favorite to end up with the Western Conference’s #1 seed? Will it be the defending Western Conference champions, the Oklahoma City Thunder? The Thunder has quite a group of young stars. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden are a formidable foursome.
Or will it be the revamped Los Angeles Lakers? The Lakers certainly have star power, but will age be the equalizer?With newly acquired superstars Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to go along with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, the Lakers will be as good as anybody.
Let’s not forget about their arena-mates, the Los Angeles Clippers. Blake Griffin is still on his way up and Chris Paul may be too. If they get a healthy Chauncey Billups back to go along with Moe Williams, they could make some noise.
You hate to count out the San Antonio Spurs, but age has probably caught up to Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli. Look for the Spurs to slip a bit this year.
With Durant, the Thunder certainly has the best player in the West, if not the entire league. If you watched him shoot the lights out in the Olympics you know why he is the two time defending NBA scoring champion. He can hit it from anywhere at any time. As long as he an Westbrook stay healthy and on the same page, the Thunder a legitimate championship contender.
The Lakers are going to be lethal this year with the game’s best center, perhaps the game’s best small forward and maybe the game’s best assist man at point guard in Howard, Bryant and Nash. With Pau Gasol at the power forward position able to shoot from the outside, opening up the middle for Dwight. the Lakers are going to be tough to beat.
If the Blake Griffin continues to improve like he has been then watch out for the Clippers. Chris Paul is as good as any point guard in the game. Billups is as good a shooting guard as there is when healthy too.
Then there are up and coming teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves. If they get a healthy Ricky Rubio back, along with Andre Kirilenko to go with Kevin Love, the T-Wolves could beat some people. They were looking like a playoff contender for a good bit of last year until Rubio went down.
It looks like the Western Conference is back to being the dominant conference again in the NBA. The Miami Heat looks like a mortal lock in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately for the team who comes out of the West, the will face the Heat in the NBA Finals.
The Heat already has the game’s best player in Lebron James and also two more of the game’s best in Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Now they’ve added one of the deadliest shooters in the game in Ray Allen. So whomever gets through the gauntlet that is the Western Conference, this NBA Finals will be one of the best match-ups since Bird’s Celtics against Magic’s Lakers. The season cannot get here quick enough.