1. Portland Trail Blazers – With one of the most talented backcourts in the NBA in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Portland should find themselves in nearly every game they play this season.
The Blazers added Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli during free agency giving them help on both sides of the ball. Ezeli should assume the starting center position, while Turner will more than likely be the team’s sixth man. With a number of solid role players, Portland should easily be in the playoff hunt.
2. Denver Nuggets – More than likely, Denver will find themselves on the losing end of many of their games this season. With a number of young players and Danilo Gallinari being the closest thing to a star on the roster, it will be tough for them to compete night in and night out in a stacked Western Conference.
On the plus side, Denver does have a number of young and talented players in Will Barton, Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray, who was selected by Denver in the lottery this year. An interesting team to watch, but don’t expect to see them come postseason.
3. Utah Jazz – The Jazz could be one of the scariest sleeper teams in the West this year. Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Rude Gobert—the Jazz are loaded with talent.
Utah acquired the one thing they’ve been majorly lacking, a true point guard. George Hill coming over could ultimately be the thing that gets the Jazz in the playoffs. He can score, he can pass, he can defend, and he could be exactly what the Jazz have been hoping for. Needless to say, Utah will be a fun team to watch.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves – In a crowded division, the Timberwolves look to be fighting for a lower end playoff spot this season. With an up-and-coming star-studded roster front-lined by Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, the Wolves look to be one of the most exciting teams to watch in the Western Conference, next to the Warriors of course.
With the addition of Kris Dunn, who showed out in his few games during the NBA Summer League, and Zach LaVine looking like he’s found a consistent shooting touch, the Wolves might finally be coming into their own. This could be the turning point for a franchise that has been in a downward spiral since Kevin Garnett left in 2007.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder – The news that shook the NBA offseason, and is still difficult for most to wrap their heads around—Kevin Durant, the face of the Oklahoma City Thunder, decided to up and leave for the Golden State Warriors. Good news for fans, though, this could potentially lead to one of the most exciting things we’ve seen on the basketball court in quite some time.
Oklahoma City is a team centered around one of the most energizing players in the game, Russell Westbrook. After aquiring Victor Oladipo and skilled big man Domantas Sabonis via trade on draft night, the Thunder could have one of the most athletic backcourts in the NBA. However, losing Durant and Serge Ibaka, (Oladipo trade,) could leave the Thunder looking to fight for a lower end playoff spot.