1. Golden State Warriors
Golden State kept the team together while losing some spare parts on the defensive end, but the additions of Jamychal Green and Donte DiVicenzo should help. Moody and Kuminga are a year better with playoff experience and James Wiseman is finally healthy.
2. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks are a deeper team despite the loss of Jalen Brunson with the additions of Christian Wood and JaVale McGee along with the return of Tim Hardaway Jr. With Luka back at the PG spot, he is a prime MVP candidate surrounded by two-way players with 3 and D capabilities.
3. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets have been carried by MVP seasons by Nikola Jokic, but the return of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter should move them up the standings and into contention. The additions of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Bruce Brown, and Ish Smith should offset their losses.
4. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers could have ranked higher but Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will likely miss a few games to be fresh for the playoffs, however they have good depth and coaching as seen last season. The addition of a motivated John Wall should only be a positive.
5. Phoenix Suns
Bringing back DeAndre Ayton keeps the Suns intact allowing them to stay near the top Chris Paul pending, but they added depth at guard and the return of Dario Saric should help. Devin Booker should have a chance at a MVP this season.
6. Memphis Grizzlies
Despite the loss of Jaren Jackson to injury to start the year, the Grizzlies still have Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, and Dillon Brooks to lead the way. Despite the defensive losses, they have young players ready to step up.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
The T’Wolves may have some chemistry issues on the offensive end with no pure shooters and two big men in the lineup with addition of Rudy Gobert, but the defense should improve especially with the addition of Kyle Anderson. Anthony Edwards is expected to take the next step.
8. New Orleans Pelicans
The return of Zion Williamson gives the Pelicans a big 3 with C.J. McCollum and Brandon Ingram and completes a solid lineup. The team will take some time to gain chemistry and the question is always how many games will Zion last which could make them underrated on this list.
9. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers loaded up with younger athletic players this season and have decided to stick it out with Russell Westbrook which both will create chemistry issues under new coach Darvin Ham. The team is still led by Lebron and Anthony Davis so the health of both players will be key.
10. Portland Blazers
While the Blazers added veteran Jerami Grant to make a solid starting lineup, they are still a young team in a deep Western Conference. I believe the return of a healthy Damian Lillard can get this team into the play in tournament.
11. Sacramento Kings
The Kings added shooting in Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk while rookie Keegan Murray looked good in the Summer League. With veterans De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and Harrison Barnes, I believe they fall short of the playoffs under new coach Mike Brown.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder are built around their big 3 of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, and Lu Dort who haven’t had much time on the court together. The Thunder have a lot of young players to see who can fit around these three, but they lack depth inside with the loss of rookie Chet Holmgren.
13. Utah Jazz
The Jazz went into rebuild mode after trading Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Bojan Bogdanovic, but they have a collection of young players to go with Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson. I believe Conley and/or Clarkson could be traded at some point this season.
14. Houston Rockets
The Rockets are built around Kevin Porter and Jalen Green along with the addition of rookie Jabari Smith Jr. who should play big minutes on a young growing team. Big man Alparen Sengun is expected to take the next step with Christian Wood leaving, but wins will be hard to come by in the West.
15. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs went into full rebuild mode after the trade of Dejounte Murray leaving the team in the hands of Keldon Johnson who does have Team USA experience under his belt. This young roster will play hard under coach Pop but may not win many games.