While the Golden States Warriors will once again be favourites to win the NBA Western Conference, LeBron James' arrival with the Los Angeles Lakers suggests a new champion could be on the horizon.
That new champion may not emerge this season as James is surrounded by young players along with several journeymen, but if the four-time MVP can get a player like Kawhi Leonard to join him next season, there could be a power shift coming in the West.
That being said, until a team proves it can beat the Warriors, this is Golden State's conference.
We take a look at the Western Conference in 2018-19.
Team rising: Los Angeles Lakers
With the addition of LeBron, Los Angeles are projected by bookmakers to win 13 more games than they did last season (48.5). While that may be a little bit optimistic considering the depth of the West, the Lakers are bound to get much better simply with the addition of 'The King'.
Team falling: Minnesota Timberwolves
After acquiring former Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler during the offseason in 2017, the Timberwolves went from 14th in the West with 31 wins to eighth with 47. Now Butler wants out, and until Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins prove they can lead this team to greener pastures, it would be far too optimistic to say they will win more than 40 games. Minnesota was 10-13 without Butler in their line-up last season.
Under-the-radar team: Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks may not make the playoffs, but with the addition of DeAndre Jordan, a second year for Dennis Smith Jr., a stud rookie in Luka Doncic and added talent around Harrison Barnes, it is not unrealistic to say Dallas, 24-58 in 2017-18, could win another 10 games this season and possibly even more than that.
Under-the-radar player: New Orleans Pelicans G Jrue Holiday
The New Orleans guard had a coming-out party of sorts in the first round of the playoffs, when the Pelicans swept the Portland Trail Blazers. Holiday averaged 23.9 points, 6.3 assists and 5.7 rebounds in the postseason and 19 points per game in the regular season. He dominated Portland's backcourt defensively and he may now have the attention to earn a second All-Star selection.
Northwest: Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC struggled all last season to incorporate Carmelo Anthony into their offense and it cost the team wins throughout the season. Now it is the Russell Westbrook and Paul George show and with an entire season focusing on that, the Thunder should win the Northwest.
Pacific: Golden State Warriors
This is perhaps the most clear-cut division in the NBA.
Southwest: Houston Rockets
Houston lost two big defensive pieces in Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, but their biggest threat in the division, the Pelicans, lost DeMarcus Cousins, a huge reason for New Orleans' success against the Rockets. Add that to a division with the Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies and a recently injury-riddled San Antonio Spurs team, and Houston should win the Southwest again.
1. Golden State Warriors
2. Houston Rockets
3. Los Angeles Lakers
4. New Orleans Pelicans
5. Oklahoma City Thunder
6. Utah Jazz
7. Portland Trail Blazers
8. Denver Nuggets
Conference champions: Golden State Warriors
Golden State are the four-time defending champions in the Western Conference and the two-time reigning NBA champions, and they added one of the best centers in the game in Cousins. They also lost virtually nothing from their core.
The Warriors still have Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. They lost JaVale McGee and Nick Young, and are still trying to figure out Patrick McCaw's contract, but Quinn Cook, Jordan Bell and Kevon Looney all got valuable postseason experience last season. And Shaun Livingston is back too.
This team is stacked and might be even better than they were last year.
18 de noviembre 2018
|Rogic, Kruse to miss Socceroos´ Lebanon friendly|
|Joerger has Kings´ ´full support´, says GM Divac|
|England seal series win over Sri Lanka|
|Butler´s heroics spoil Walker´s 60-point game as 76ers beat Hornets|
|He´s an honest guy – Djokovic defends Zverev after Finals controversy|
|Bonucci boos a ´mistake´ by fans, says Mancini|
|Ronaldo still part of Portugal squad – Santos|
|Santos satisfied as Portugal reach Nations League Finals|
|Howell holds onto RSM Classic lead|
|McLeish optimistic as Scotland zero in on Nations League promotion|
|Luis Enrique rejects criticism of Spain star De Gea|
|Schmidt dismisses Hansen´s Ireland World Cup favourites claim as ´banter´|
|There are always imbeciles – Bonucci hits back at fans after frosty San Siro reception|
17 de noviembre 2018
|Portugal draw ´a step forward´ despite poor finishing – Mancini|
|Ireland were just too good - Read|
|Thomas at the double as France end losing streak|
|Albania 0 Scotland 4: Forrest double sets up promotion showdown|
|Italy 0 Portugal 0: European champions outplayed but secure Finals spot|
|Sensational Djokovic marches into final|
|Stander lauds Ireland´s ´unreal´ defence as All Blacks are thwarted|
|Dazzling Ireland claim historic All Blacks scalp in Dublin|
|Federer unimpressed with Zverev boos|
|Let´s get it on! Cheika relishing England clash|
|Croatia coach Dalic to speak with Lovren over Ramos remarks|
|Xhaka puts improved form down to ´freak´ Emery|
|De Gea not lacking confidence, says Spain´s Saul|
|Jordan goalkeeper scores from own penalty area in friendly against India|
|Pollard leads Springboks to Murrayfield victory|
|Fired-up Japan taught England a great lesson - Jones|
|Sarries leave it late to down Sale, Bath and Saints win|
|O´Shea fumes at disallowed Italy try|
|Southgate welcomes England selection quandary|
|Reaching Rooney´s England goals record ´definitely possible´ – Kane|
|Debut try for Cokanasiga as England rally to avoid Japan upset|
|Wembley will galvanise ´tired´ Croatia, insists Dalic|
|Zverev apologises for tie-break controversy amid O2 Arena heckles|
|Marquez happy with fifth after damaging shoulder in Valencia|
|Wales crush Tonga in Cardiff|
|Germany should keep faith in old guard - Bierhoff|
|Injured Lukaku to miss Belgium´s Nations League decider|
|Zverev knocks out Federer to reach maiden ATP Finals showpiece|
|Koroibete double maintains Australia´s 100 per cent record against Italy|
|Juventus´ Khedira sprains ankle in training|
|Van Dijk: Ramos is not my type of defender|
|Vinales grabs Valencia pole as Marquez crashes|
|I don´t deserve Ballon d´Or, Mbappe does – Hazard|
|Reed and Willett share lead in Dubai|
|Romagnoli joins long AC Milan injury list|
|Williamson steadies Black Caps after Boult heroics|
|Griezmann targets swift French response against Uruguay|
|Havertz´s future lies with Bayer Leverkusen – sporting director Boldt|
|Socceroos boss Arnold excited for future|
|South Africa triumph on Gold Coast in truncated T20 clash|
|Germany without Draxler for Netherlands game|
|Barcelona confirm Rakitic hamstring injury|
|Rain halts England´s post-tea flourish|
|Australia 1 South Korea 1: Luongo seals late draw for Socceroos|
|Irving thrives on ´peace´ of being in the zone|
|Lloris admits France could have lost by more|
|Dybala impressed by Argentina´s improved spirit|
|Arsenal chief confirms Super League talks|
|Hooker knocks out Saucedo to retain WBO strap|
|NBA wrap: Kyrie Irving sizzles as Celtics beat Raptors in overtime|
|Jimmy Butler aims dig at Timberwolves following 76ers home debut|
|Koeman surprised by dominant Netherlands|
|Southgate rallies England ahead of Nations League decider|
|Chile 2 Costa Rica 3: Waston brace sinks La Roja|
|Tite inspired by Guardiola´s City|
|Argentina 2 Mexico 0: Funes Mori´s header helps to sink El Tri|
|Lovren ready for ´fiery´ England clash|