WESTERN CONFERENCE

1. Golden State

 

Barring a major injury or two, is there really any reason for the other 29 to roll out the balls? The big question could be: Will they win 70?

 

2. Houston

 

Acquiring Chris Paul was the Rockets’ signature summer move, but don’t overlook adding unsung defenders P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute.

 

3. San Antonio

 

Go ahead, keep waiting for the Spurs to age and fade. That will happen only if Kawhi Leonard’s season-starting injury lingers. And don’t forget the name Dejounte Murray.

 

4. Oklahoma City

 

Sam Presti should be a lock for Executive of the Year for his summertime moves, but will the Paul George/Carmelo Anthony experiment really work?

 

5. Timberwolves

 

You can’t miss out on the playoffs forever, right? Right? This time, the veteran additions starting with Jimmy Butler will make the difference.

 

6. L.A. Clippers

 

They did well remaking themselves after Chris Paul forced a trade, but it won’t be enough if Blake Griffin can’t stay healthy.

 

7. Denver

 

Something good is growing in Denver with gifted Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap’s free-agent signing.

 

8. Utah

 

The Jazz will build around Quin Snyder’s defense and big Rudy Gobert now that Gordon Hayward left, but can it score enough?

 

9. Memphis

 

Zach Randolph, Vince Carter and Tony Allen are gone, but the Grizzlies will roll on awhile longer with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol as their core.

 

10. New Orleans

 

Like the Wolves, the Pelicans have two of the NBA’s best 15 players. It’s time for Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins to prove it.

 

11. Portland

 

Blazers’ Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum backcourt is clutch, but more than one deserving team in the West won’t make playoffs.

 

12. L.A. Lakers

 

They’ll be a poor man’s Showtime if only because of the big-top show surrounding rookie point guard Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram.

 

13. Phoenix

 

The Suns continue to collect lottery picks, and rookie Josh Jackson should be a dandy for a team all in behind young star Devin Booker.

 

14. Dallas

 

Start saying a long goodbye to the great Dirk Nowitzki while you say hello to Dennis Smith Jr., the draft’s No. 9 pick who’ll challenge for Rookie of the Year.

 

15. Sacramento

 

Really young and talented, the Kings’ time isn’t now once again, but rookie De’Aaron Fox might be worth the wait.