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Competition Discussion: Rest of the West

Like last year, my goal of devoting entire threads to discuss and predict every single team's record before the season has proved to be futile.  There are 19 teams left and only 10 days before the season starts, so unless I go to two-a-days, they all aren't going to get done.  Considering my time situation, two-a-days, plus the Wizards content you need, is impossible.

So I'm going to use this thread for predictions and quick thoughts on the remaining Western Conference teams.  I figure we're more concerned with our Eastern Conference competition anyway.

  • LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS - Baron and Camby make them just good enough to be mediocre again. Prediction: 36-46, 10th.
  • LOS ANGELES LAKERS - Last year, they were the best team in the West with Andrew Bynum playing, the best team in the league when Pau Gasol was playing and average all other times.  I know there are potential chemistry issues, but they're a juggernaut if they keep normal health.  Prediction: 65-17, 1st.
  • MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: In the long run, I like what they're doing, but in the short run, dumping a productive guy like Mike Miller for the overrated O.J. Mayo is a downgrade.  Prediction: 19-63, 14th.
  • MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: They're going to improve for the same reason Memphis is going to get worse, but sometime in the near future, they're going to have to find a way to get some interior defense. Prediction: 30-52, 11th.
  • NEW ORLEANS HORNETS: I really, really love this team as a fan.  It's not just because of Chris Paul; it's because, like Hornets 24/7 mentioned, GM Jeff Bower has literally assembled a team that fits perfectly together.  How do you surround the best PG of this generation?  Go out and get a zillion shooters that can give him all the room he needs.  Sprinkle in some David West, and you have a team that is more than the sum of its parts.  That is, unless someone gets injured, a distinct possibility.  Like the Cavaliers of the 90s, they're not deep and their starting lineup needs each other to succeed.  An injury to West or Tyson Chandler could really hurt them. Prediction: 57-25, 2nd.
  • OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: I was inclined to give them a couple extra wins, because I like Kevin Durant to really take another step this year, but I can't do it.  Something about P.J. Carlisemo being the coach. Prediction: 18-64, 15th.
  • PHOENIX SUNS: They're getting older and I think Terry Porter was a bad hire.  He's supposidely a defense-first coach, but his Milwaukee teams never defended well.  Flip Saunders would have been a perfect fit for this team.  Too much talent to completely die off, but declining. Prediction: 48-34, 7th.
  • PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS: They're better, but before we annoint them over the rest of the lights-out West, let's wait and see how a) Greg Oden looks, b) how LaMarcus Aldridge plays with Oden and c) what they do with all that young talent. Prediction: 45-37, 8th.
  • SACRAMENTO KINGS: They're going to be exciting, and Kevin Martin is a stud, but their defense and rebounding stinks. Prediction: 29-53, T13th.
  • SAN ANTONIO SPURS: If Manu didn't get hurt, I'd have them right up with New Orleans and company, but that's a significant loss.  Even with age, though, I can't see how the rest of the team is that much worse than last year. Prediction: 51-31, 5th.
  • UTAH JAZZ: No matter how good their young talent is, I am unequivocal in the belief that until they break up the offensive-minded Boozer/Okur interior duo and find an interior defender, their celing is not rising.  They foul so much, mostly because of Jerry Sloan's philosophy, but also because they don't have a real defensive anchor.  Until they get one, they just won't be good enough defensively to win a title. Prediction: 55-27, T3rd.