There is no doubt that the Golden State Warriors won free agency this July. They added the best
available free agent in Kevin Durant.
The ability to add a player of Durant’s stature without giving up any crucial pieces from the team
that was a game away from claiming the last two NBA championships.
The bench has been thinned out by the loss of players like Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, and
Leandro Barbosa. But, the foursome of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and
Kevin Durant is more than just frightening for other contenders out west.
Championships are not won on paper and we still have a season to play and playoffs to get
through before we can crown the Warriors. Here are the four best bets to challenge Golden State
for the opportunity to face the Eastern Conference champion in the finals:
#4) Houston Rockets
Houston brings back James Harden and a bevy of scoring threats. The offense will undoubtably
be bolstered by Mike D’Antoni and the additions of both Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson.
The Beard brought the offensive fireworks with him from the day that he arrived in H-Town.
Dwight Howard went home to Atlanta and his absence will be felt on defence.
D’Antoni has never been known for the ability to craft effective schemes to protect the basket.
Clutch City will have to outscore their opponents to stay afloat against the high-powered Western
The Warriors and other teams will look to take advantage of Harden in pick and rolls. Can the
Rockets score enough that none of that will matter?
#3 Portland Trailblazers
Damian Lillard is no stranger to big games and heroics on the big stage of the playoffs. The
Blazers are bringing back most of their surprisingly effective core.
The team overachieved last season after LaMarcus Aldridge departed in free agency. Portland
ended the 2016 campaign with 44 wins and 38 losses.
Lillard and his teammates advanced to the second round last playoff. They also managed to give
the defending western conference champion quite a scare in that series.
The youth and speed of players like C.J. McCollum and Myers Leonard match up surprisingly well with the rest of the field. But, Big Game Dame is going to need some serious help to top Curry’s squad.
#2) Los Angeles Clippers
The Clipperbs looked prime for a deep postseason run when Stephen Curry went down with a
knee injury in the playoffs.
Then, as is common, L.A. had a spot of bad luck.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin went down with season-ending injuries in the same game. The Clip
Show could have easily challenged Golden State with a full roster.
The second team in the Staples Center needs to have a change in luck to compliment their recent rebranding if they are going to capture the west.
DeAndre Jordan is with Team USA right now improving with every game. Griffin will be back and
fully healthy next season.
Can the Clippers finally make it over the hump?
#1) The San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs will always be the constant force of stability in the NBA.
This franchise has been consistently excellent since Tim Duncan was drafted in 1997. The
problem is that The Big Fundemental is now a thing of the past.
Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge must now lead the new era of San Antonio basketball. Old mainstays like Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli are back to ease the transition along with new
veterans like Pau Gasol.
The Spurs will have the wins but will they have a crack at the Warriors without their anchor. The
identity of the franchise was crafted after Duncan but will that be enough?