The NBA season is fast approaching. The summer free agent season saw teams in the Eastern Conference improve, but the two time defending champions reside in the West. Here's a look at the contenders in the Western Conference.
The Pacific Division is lead by the Los Angeles Lakers, who won the past two NBA titles. Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, and Pau Gasol lead a deep team that retained coach Phil Jackson. The Lakers beat Boston in seven games in the NBA Finals, and they have the capability to get back and win a fourth straight Western Conference crown. Phoenix went to the West Finals last season, but must replace Amare Stoudemire.
The Southwest Division should be lead by the Dallas Mavericks, who have been one of the best regular season teams over the last decade. However, that has only translated to one trip to the NBA Finals in 2006. The San Antonio Spurs are well coached and well experienced, having won four titles since 1999. They may be older, but the Spurs can't be counted out. The Houston Rockets could also return to contention, but a lot depends on the health of Yao Ming.
The Northwest division is interesting. The Utah Jazz lost Carlos Boozer, but added Al Jefferson and Raja Bell. The Trailblazers have a lot of potential, but have had major injury issues the past few seasons. Denver has been a good team recently, but they could potentially lose Carmelo Anthony, meaning they may start rebuilding before the season starts. The favorite hear could be Oklahoma City. The Thunder gave the Lakers all they could handle last year, and feature stars like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
The Western Conference should have many good teams, but the big contenders should be the Lakers, Mavericks, and Thunder. Dallas and Oklahoma City need to gel if they want to end the reign of the Lakers. With Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant on a third straight championship, that could be very hard.
NBA Western Conference Champion
|Golden State Warriors||20-1|
|Los Angeles Clippers||1-1|
|Los Angeles Lakers||1-1|
|New Orleans Hornets||1-1|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||1-1|
|San Antonio Spurs||10-13|