It's officially 7 days from the first tip-off of the NBA's 2015-16 regular season - and things couldn't get more exciting. Whether you're an avid fan with a memory for Steph Curry's exact shooting percentage, or if you don't even know what shape a basketball is, this is all you need to know leading in to the new season. We write up a cheeky power rankings for the Western conference (because they're the better conference lets be honest) - up the Warriors.
Golden State Warriors
2014-15 Reg. Season: 1st (67-15)
Playoffs: NBA Champions
Key Player(s): Stephen Curry (MVP), Klay Thompson, Draymond Green
Its always hard to bounce off a championship to come back again and repeat it – but with only minor changes to the lineup, there might not be much that can stop the championship force of the small ball brand of basketball that the Warriors bring to the floor. Curry will be the key to leading his team to another MVP championship season. Expect the splash brothers to keep going nuts from beyond the arc, but we will need to see if they can retain the same luck they had last year as far as injuries go. Still, they’re one of the best teams we’ve seen this decade. I’m excited.
Key Question: Injuries, Curry bringing the same form he had last year
San Antonio Spurs
2014-15 Reg. Season: 6th (55-27)
Playoffs: Lost in first round to Clippers 3-4
Key Player(s): Tim Duncan, Kawhai Leonard, LeMarcus Aldridge
The spurs had a pretty disappointing season last year, and no doubt Coach Poppovich will be raring to get further than the first round in this seasons playoffs. The big question will be to see if Duncan and Parker, the two veterans on the team, can lead the likes of Defensive Player of the Year, Leonard, and young addition Aldridge through to another great year. No doubt the Spurs are THE model NBA franchise – they have a great system in place, many are putting them at number 2 to challenge the Warriors.
Key question: how well will Aldridge fit in? With the Duncan/Parker era on the way out, how will the impending Leonard/Aldridge era transition in?
2014-15 Reg. Season: 2nd (56-26)
Playoffs: Lost in conference finals to Warriors 1-4
Key Player(s): James Harden, Dwight Howard
The Rockets had an amazing year last year, finishing 2nd with James Harden – arguably the runner-up for MVP – dominating all opponents. With losses of role player Josh Smith but the addition of Ty Lawson, we will see how the rockets fare in terms of adjusting their roster and playing accordingly. Expect another great shooting season from Harden, and if Howard remains fit, theres no telling how far they could go.
Key Question: Can Howard stay healthy? How will Ty Lawson fit into the lineup?
Los Angeles Clippers
2014-15 Reg. Season: 3rd (56-26)
Playoffs: Lost in conference semi-finals to Rockets 3-4
Key Player(s): Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin
For me, this is the greatest squad in the league. So much depth, so much talent, Paul at the point, take your pick between JJ Redick or Lance Stephenson at the two guard, Paul Pierce adding serious veteran talent to the roster, plus the big two Griffin and Jordan as forwards. This is a formidable side, question being can Coach Doc Rivers haul this huge team together and utilize a deeper bench than last year, in order to complete the Los Angeles turnaround (no hate to the Lakers). Key additions like Stephenson and Smith add much needed depth, im also excited for this.
Key question: can they overcome the Lakers curse and complete the turnaround in terms of L.A dominance.
Oklahoma City Thunder
2014-15 Reg. Season: 9th (45-37)
Key Player(s): Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook
OKC struggled big time with injuries last year, and unfortunately fell out of the playoffs because of it. They will be firing to go in KD’s last contract year and I’m expecting a championship drive from them. The question remains as to whether or not Durant’s injury holds out. Shout-out to homegrown Steven Adams.
Key Question: Can they avoid the injury plague they suffered last season? Can KD lead them to a playoff berth?
2014-15 Reg. Season: 5th (55-27)
Playoffs: Lost in conference semis to Warriors 2-4
Key Player(s): Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Zac Randolph
A team like the Grizzlies only demonstrates how big the gap is between East and West. These guys lost to the champions last year but could put it up over any of the Eastern teams (maybe excluding the Cavs). With Gasol re-signing over the off-season the team will be firing on all cylinders. With additions like Matt Barnes to push the team to more of a small ball approach – it will be interesting to see what they produce this season.
Key question: Is it time for Mike Conley to step up for his first All Star season? Can Gasol continue to be arguably the best centre in the league and prove his worth on a max contract?
New Orleans Pelicans
2014-15 Reg. Season: 8th (45-37)
Playoffs: Lost in first round to Warriors 0-4
Key Player(s): Anthony Davis
With a team centered around the biggest prospect to come out of the draft since LeBron (big call I know), the Pelicans will look to back him up with good performances out of Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans. Hopefully with improved defense, and some better perimeter offence, the Pelicans can pull up to a better playoff seed.
Key question: can the big man go on to another All star season and propel the Pelicans to another playoff berth?
2014-15 Reg. Season: 7th (50-32)
Playoffs: Lost in first round to Rockets 1-4
Key Player(s): Big Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews
These guys got absolutely f***ed over by DeAndre Jordan in the off-season. Basically DeAndre promised to sign for them, really shaping them up as one of the best teams in the league, but he pulled out at the last minute to re-sign with the Clippers. They scrambled to bring in point guard Deron Williams who had an awesome playoffs run while it lasted, were yet to see how they will go defensively. Fingers crossed for Mavs fans ill say that much.
Key question: will the DeAndre Joran scandal effect them that badly? How can Nowitzki last on his last legs
Teams to watch out for:
These guys are going to struggle to challenge some of the bigger dogs in this league, but if I was a Wolves fan I would be excited to see how three consecutive number one picks will shape up to play together. Karl Anthony-Towns (2015), Andrew Wiggins (2014), and Anthony Bennett (2013) (lol) might shape up to work well and Slam Dunk Champ Zac LaVine might be able to work some magic, but it might be one more year of struggles until the Timberwolves bring themselves out of the bottom of the conference.
I am a huge fan of Emmanuel Mudiay. There are a few teams that might really regret not picking him. He is NBA ready and an awesome replacement for Ty Lawson who moved on from the Nuggets this summer. However, Chandler, Gallinari and faried aren’t the best forward team, and we will have to see how Coach Michael Malone can bring the team together.