The wild Western Conference

Column by Sam Tapper Sports Writer

For basketball fans, it is no secret that this past offseason in the NBA was one of the crazier ones in recent memory. This summer featured numerous superstars either departing their respected cities for a new home or being traded as part of a rebuild.

Headed into the 2020 season, the consensus among league experts and fans is that the Western Conference is once again the heavier stacked league.

Staples Center: It is no secret that the two teams who call the Staples Center home improved drastically. The Clippers gained twotime finals MVP Kawhi Leonard as well as Paul George to compliment one of the best supporting casts in the league. Over in the Lakers’ locker room, they finally got their crown jewel this past summer: Anthony Davis. The LeBron & Davis duo should be exciting, but the overflow of new role players — Dwight Howard, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, etc. — and new coaching staff will beg questions of their team chemistry early on.

Denver Nuggets: Denver’s roster features one of the best centers and overall players in the league in Nikola Jokic, but a breakout season one year ago from Jamal Murray gave the league yet another dynamic duo to worry about. The Nuggets finished as the two-seed last year, but team chemistry concerns in L.A. and a potential healthy Michael Porter Jr. make Denver a legitimate threat to earning the conference’s top seed.

Houston Rockets: It is hard to believe that it has already been eight years since the Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden to the Rockets. This offseason the Thunder traded Houston another franchise piece: Russell Westbrook. The deal came as a shock to many, but the Thunder’s quick implosion and the relationship the two stars have made this move a no-brainer. However, the questions raised about Houston is regarding their depth. Is Clint Capela healthy? How much does Eric Gordon have left in the tank? Can their bench keep them competitive without Harden & Westbrook on the floor? The answers to these questions could very well end up making or breaking Houston’s season.

This list does not touch on all of the contending teams in the West, as there are also teams like Portland, Golden State and Utah to consider. Mainly, this is a prediction of what the top tier in the conference could end up looking like. For now, we all must sit back and watch.

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