The NBA summer was crazy. There are a lot of new faces in a lot of new places, but has the power shifted from the Thunder’s hands? Let’s look at the teams that have a chance of winning the Western Conference Finals.
5. Los Angeles Clippers – 1% – chance of winning the West – The Clippers do not have the players down low in order to be the best team in the West, but they do have something that nobody else does in Chris Paul. Paul can take over a game, and even though he will need his teammates to step up, I can’t leave him off this list. His play-making ability is unmatched by any other point guard in the league and Paul gives the Clippers a chance to win every night.
4. Utah Jazz – 3% – Many experts will put the Nuggets up here rather than the Jazz, but this Jazz team is special. Pick any team in the league, and they will not have the depth at Power Forward and Center that the Jazz do. They traded away Devin Harris, but they received a much needed Small Forward in return by acquiring Marvin Williams. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are already solid players in the league, and a full off season with Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors should help the young players develop too.
3. San Antonio Spurs – 16% – I don’t know how, but the Spurs manage to be a top seed every year. The only explanation is that Gregg Popovich is the best coach in the NBA. He knows what he is doing, and none of his players ever question his actions. He can rest his stars and still manage to have the best record in the conference like last season.
In addition, Tim Duncan took an $11.5 million pay cut from his salary. Why would he do that though? Well he knows that if he takes the pay cut, then the franchise can afford better players to play around him, thus giving the team a better chance to win a championship. Don’t feel bad for Duncan though, he will still be earning $9.64 million this year at the age of 36.
2. Los Angeles Lakers – 30% – Being the most talented team doesn’t guarantee you a championship, and the Lakers are going to learn that the hard way this season. Talent doesn’t mean everything, and don’t be fooled by the big names on this team. Chemistry means a lot for a team, and the Lakers will have to build that quickly. Don’t just think that Kobe can score, Nash can pass, and Dwight can rebound and block, so they are going to win. It doesn’t work like that. They will have to play as a team in order to beat these other teams, and if they think that they are going to be handed the title in the West, they are sadly mistaken.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder – 50% – The defending West Champs are the favorites once again in my book. And by a lot, too. Just because they didn’t add the big names or make a big trade doesn’t mean that they didn’t improve from last year. Actually they may have had a better summer than the Lakers. Their young team was able to handle the pressure in the playoffs last year, and they were able to win the Western Conference. Just because they lost to a Heat team in the Finals doesn’t mean that the season was a failure. Then, they had four players play in the Olympics, and all four played in the Gold Medal Game. Their young players are improving every season, and Durant is still the second best player in the world. Along with their returning talent, they drafted Perry Jones III with the 28th pick. Yea, the 28th pick, that isn’t a typo. Jones will be the steal of the draft, and he was drafted onto the perfect team for him. He is a very athletic forward, and he can learn from players with similar body types as him in Ibaka and Durant. Ibaka is the best shot blocker in the league, and Durant is the best scorer in the league. You can’t ask for a much better situation than that.