1. Los Angeles Clippers
With Donald Sterling ousted the path is clear for a title run.
2. Golden State Warriors
Some front office bickering could lead to their downfall.
3. Phoenix Suns
They have the best guard rotation in the division.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
Byron Scott is the right and only choice for this team after spurning Phil Jackson.
5. Sacramento Kings
Lots of talent, but is there a direction for this team?
Head Coach: Doc Rivers
Key Position: Small Forward – There were a lot of players that played this spot last year. Doc believes that he has the guy in Matt Barnes who was apart of that rotation last year. Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Douglas-Roberts and even Jamal Crawford will all play at the small forward spot. What the Clippers really need is someone who can play the opponents best player and that falls on Barnes who is the better defender.
Key Rookies: None
Key Acquisitions: G Jordan Farmar (Los Angeles Lakers), C Spencer Hawes (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Starting Lineup: G Chris Paul, G J.J. Redick, F Matt Barnes, F Blake Griffin, C DeAndre Jordan
Head Coach: Steve Kerr (NBA Analyst)
Key Position: Point Guard – This is a big test not just for new head coach Steve Kerr who hasn’t coached anywhere before, but also for the front office who ousted Mark Jackson after some differences of opinion. Kerr has the luxury of coaching two great guards in Curry and Thompson, but none of them are true point guards. This team got one in Shaun Livingston who will see a lot of playing time giving Curry and Thompson a lot of screen and shoot opportunities.
Key Rookies: None
Key Acquisitions: G Shaun Livingston (Brooklyn Nets)
Starting Lineup: G Stephen Curry, G Klay Thompson, F Andre Iguodala, F David Lee, C Andrew Bogut
Head Coach: Jeff Hornacek
Key Position: Shooting Guard – There is going to be a constant rotation between Dragic, Bledsoe and Thomas at both guard spots. Bledsoe will see most of his time at shooting guard, but in order to keep him healthy for a full season, Thomas will get a lot of playing time. This is a big test for Dragic being the odd man out in a contract year with both Bledose and Thomas having big contracts on the books.
Key Rookies: F T.J. Warren, G Tyler Ennis
Key Acquisitions: G Eric Bledsoe (re-signed), G Isaiah Thomas (Sacramento Kings)
Starting Lineup: G Goran Dragic, G Eric Bledsoe, F P.J. Tucker, F Markieff Morris, C Miles Plumlee
Head Coach: Byron Scott (Cleveland Cavaliers – 2013)
Key Position: Shooting Guard – Not a lot is expected of the Lakers this season, but if they win 30-40 games that will be a big improvement. As will seeing Kobe Bryant for most of the season. He and Byron Scott are on the same page and they both will look to prove those doubters wrong. The real test will be building off of that going into next season.
Key Rookies: F Julius Randle
Key Acquisitions: F Carlos Boozer (Chicago Bulls), F Ed Davis (Memphis Grizzlies), G Jeremy Lin (Houston Rockets)
Starting Lineup: G Jeremy Lin, G Kobe Bryant, F Wesley Johnson, F Carlos Boozer, C Jordan Hill
Head Coach: Michael Malone
Key Position: Power Forward – Carl Landry and Derrick Williams will probably play the majority of time at power forward, but this position needs someone to help lessen the workload on DeMarcus Cousins. He can take care of the paint by himself on most nights, but the Kings can’t afford to have him constantly banging inside with no help. Williams isn’t the ideal fit, but Landry is capable.
Key Rookies: G Nik Stauskas
Key Acquisitions: G Darren Collison (Los Angeles Clippers), G Ramon Sessions (Milwaukee Bucks)
Starting Lineup: G Darren Collison, G Ben McLemore, F Rudy Gay, F Jason Thompson, C DeMarcus Cousins