Last Season: 58-24, 2nd(3rdoverall).
Expected Starters: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Jordan Bell.
It’s difficult to look past Golden State becoming the third team to win 4 titles in a 5 year span. After holding off the Houston Rockets in the playoffs and dominating Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, the current champions have strengthened their side this summer by signing All Star centre Demarcus Cousins to join on a one-year deal. The offense of the Warriors has been devastating in recent years, last season they averaged 113.5 points per game and held the highest statistics for field goal % (50.3), free throw % (81.5) and 3 point field goal % (39.1). The team have avaeraged 67 wins in the regular season the past 4 years and it looks likely they will hit the same again this season, they may even top their record of 73 wins set in 2015/16.
Last Season: 65-17, 1st(1stoverall).
Western Conference Finalists.
Expected Starters: Chris Paul, James Harden, P.J Tucker, Carmelo Anthony, Clint Capela.
Houston had a record breaking season last time out setting their franchise record for regular season wins and breaking the league record for 3-pointers made with 1,184. They had a great run and were dubbed to make the NBA Finals before Chris Paul picked up an injury in Game 5 and was ruled out of the series defining games against Golden State. In the regular season the Rockets averaged 112 points per game and have been given a boost with the signing of Carmelo Anthony; after a poor season with Oklahoma City Thunder he will be eager to have a fresh start in Houston. Replacing Trevor Ariza in the starting lineup means Carmelo will have to replace the defensive abilities Ariza holds, Houston will have another great season if Anthony can stay strong alongside Clint Capela during the regular season.
Los Angeles Lakers
Last Season: 35-47, 11thin conference (21stoverall).
Last reached playoffs in 2012/13
Expected Starters: LeBron James, Brandon Ingram. Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac.
The Lakers had a poor season last time out but Coach Walton and Magic Johnson have worked their magic together in the offseason bringing in big names such as LeBron James, Rajan Rondo, Javale McGee & Lance Stephenson. LeBron faces the tougher task of trying to become the King of the West, he dominated the East with Cleveland to become a regular feature in the NBA Finals. This new Lakers roster is full of talent both offensively and defensively and posses a strong set of starters and replacements for each position on the court. As long as the veterans in the squad can help the likes of Ball, Ingram and Kuzma, the Lakers will no doubt improve on last season to reach their first playoffs in 5 years. How far they go once they get there is a question for the future.
Last Season: 48-34, 5th(11thoverall).
Western Conference Semi Finalist
Expected Starters: Rickie Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert.
Jazz shocked the league making it to the Western Conference Semi Finals last season after knocking off Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round. They head into the new season with minimal changes, the only notable addition is the addition of Grayson Allen. Donovan Mitchell was crucial to Utah’s success in his rookie year last season, with him on the court they had the best defensive rating in the league and the 15thbest offensive rating (5thand 24thoff without him). Many thought he should have been named Rookie of the Year ahead of Ben Simmons but his game is still to be improved, keeping him fit and on the court will be key for the Jazz to maintain a strong playoff run. They look to be the strongest in the Northwest Division this season with Oklahoma losing Carmelo Anthony and the future of Jimmy Butler at the Timberwolves still undecided which is why I think they can hold off their competitiors.
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