Top three contenders to qualify for the NBA Western Conference Finals
The Western Conference is wide open now that Kevin Durant is on the other coast and Klay Thompson will miss much of the year. The NBA's conference disparity seems to grow by the year, with all probabilities of a winner from the Western Conference this time around.
SportCo takes a look at the top three contenders to qualify for the Western Conference Finals.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James' first season in Los Angeles could not have gone much worse: losses, drama and the worst injury of his career. But, with Anthony Davis as the new promising entrant, the question arises if the duo would be able to finally save the Los Angeles Lakers together.
The fact of the matter is that Davis' arrival has catapulted the Lakers into a total overhaul of its youth movement system to one heavily dependent on its twin stars.
They brought back JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as free agents and also managed to add some experienced role players in Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Dwight Howard and Jared Dudley.
If James is able to keep up his dominant run, and Davis is able to go on a MVP-deserving run, a Lakers win would most definitely not be far-fetched.
But the others would need to handily chip in as well.
2. Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers shocked the NBA world when they not only landed the most coveted free agent in the current MVP of the previous NBA Finals, Kawhi Leonard, but also traded for Paul George on the same night.
In order for the Clippers to win 62 games and go to the Western Conference Finals, that means only one thing: that Leonard and George should be able to stay healthy and largely injury-free.
The Clippers have been cautious with Leonard in the preseason, and that shouldn't change when the games start to matter.
There is also the issue of George's post-surgery shoulders and it is likely the Clippers would also play things safe with their other All-Star forward.
Sixty wins is certainly in play, and the LA Clippers could make it to the top of the leaderboard without breaking too much of a sweat.
The overall talent on the Clippers' roster along with Doc Rivers' coaching, make them key contenders.
1. Houston Rockets
Nothing short of a Championship would be considered a satisfying season for the Houston Rockets, especially now that the Golden State Warriors no longer are obvious favourites in the Western Conference.
The Rockets pounced on the opportunity to swap Chris Paul and a package of picks for Russell Westbrook.
They kept the rest of their core together and managed to add some experienced veterans like Tyson Chandler and Thabo Sefolosha.
The potential starting five of the Rockets might feature four players in their thirties, and fitness will be a critical element of Houston's hopes for staying top.
A reunion of the NBA's two recent MVPs is set to happen with James Harden and Westbrook (they played together in Oklahoma City) gunning for glory in the Rockets' colours. Both said that they are willing to sacrifice individual glory to maximize their chances to finally win a Championship.
This might be the league’s most talented starting five, and the Houston Rockets is perhaps the strongest contender to qualify for the Western Conference Finals.