With key offseason acquisitions, especially new coach Doc Rivers, this team is set to dominate the division. All-stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the leaders of this team and they’ll compete for the top spot in the Western Conference all season long. They don’t just have to rely on the starters, either; with a deep bench the Clippers will be ready to contend with any team in the league.
2. Golden State
New addition Andre Iguodala is a huge get for Golden State. Between big names Iguodala and three-point man Stephen Curry, the Warriors will contend for a top-five spot in the Western Conference playoffs. As long as injuries don’t plague them all season, (Curry and center Andrew Bogut are injury-prone) this team will be in the mix for the top few spots in the conference.
3. LA Lakers
Noticeably absent from the top few spots is the other Los Angeles team: the Lakers. Once the top team in the city, the Lakers will struggle this season, just as they have done the past few years. You can never count the Lakers out from the playoff hunt, but with an ailing Kobe Bryant and the loss of big-man Dwight Howard, the team will struggle to compete with the top teams.
4. Sacramento Kings
The man to keep an eye on is center DeMarcus Cousins. The team stayed in Sacramento, a big win for the city this season after a bid by an ownership group in Seattle. The Kings have missed the playoffs the past seven years, and this year will make it eight. One name on the roster Loyola basketball fans may know is Ray McCallum Jr., a rookie drafted from the University of Detroit, Loyola’s Horizon League rival in the recent past.
5. Phoenix Suns
The Suns are still recovering from the loss of point guard Steve Nash to the Lakers last year. This team is very young and last season only won 25 games. The Suns have potential to improve upon those numbers from last season, but the process will be slow and they won’t move up in the standings.