NBA Power Rankings: West's top dog after Kawhi Leonard to Clippers
15. Memphis Grizzlies
The rebuild is on in Grind City.
After trading Mike Conley and drafting Murray State point guard Ja Morant with the No. 2 overall pick, the Grizzlies will go into the 2019-20 season looking to build toward a future centered around Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. They also acquired 2017 No. 4 overall pick Josh Jackson in a trade with the Phoenix Suns, and acquired former Duke standout Grayson Allen, who showed flashes during his rookie season. The Grizz will be young and exciting, but won't win a lot of games.
14. Phoenix Suns
You can't convince me you have any idea what the Suns' plan is, or even that they have a plan.
They traded T.J. Warren to the Pacers. Then traded for Dario Saric and moved down to draft Cameron Johnson 10 spots higher than he should have gone. Then, they signed Ricky Rubio and shipped Josh Jackson off to Memphis. Oh, and they also acquired Aron Baynes.
The Suns won 19 games last season and they probably won't win much more than that this year.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves really, really wanted to find a way to get D'Angelo Russell (and probably dump Andrew Wiggins).
Well, that didn't happen. Instead, they drafted Jarrett Culver and signed Jordan Bell to give them an athletic front line. The T'Wolves don't appear to have much going for them apart from Karl-Anthony Towns.
12. Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are two amazing young pieces to build around.
Unfortuately for the Mavericks, they struck out on Kemba Walker, Al Horford and Danny Green. The Mavs will be frisky but still are a piece or two away.
11. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs' impressive playoff streak (22 years) might be coming to an end.
LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan formed a solid duo during their first year together, but were unable to get past the Nuggets in Round 1. The return of Dejounte Murray should give them a boost, but the West got stronger and the Spurs did little to move with the pack.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder
Paul George's trade request put the Thunder in a tough place.
Their championship window officially is slammed shut and they must figure out if they want to do a full tear down or reboot on the fly around Russell Westbrook.
The 2016-17 NBA MVP might average 36, 13 and 13 this season, but it won't be enough to get OKC back into the dance. Or, Westbrook might be calling another place home by the time the season begins.
9. New Orleans Pelicans
OK, this might be a little bullish, but David Griffin has something brewing in NOLA.
After getting a haul from the Lakers for Anthony Davis, drafting Zion Williamson and agreeing to terms with veteran sharpshooter J.J. Redick and forward Derrick Favors, the Pelicans have a nice mix of young, high-celing talent and veteran leadership. Don't be shocked if the Pelicans drastically exceed expectations this season.
8. Sacramento Kings
The Kings took a nice leap last season, but ultimately fell short of their goal of reaching the playoffs.
They made some quality moves this offseason when they agreed to sign Dewayne Dedmon, Cory Joseph and Trevor Ariza at the opening bell of free agency. They also retained Harrison Barnes to cement a solid young core of Barnes, De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles that might have enough to bring them back to the playoffs.
7. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets are one of the best young teams in the NBA, so this shows you just how deep the West is.
Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris are a solid trio, but Denver needs Murray to take a leap in order to move up in the Western Conference pecking order. If draft gambles Michael Porter Jr. and Bol Bol can get healthy, the Nuggets will have some assets to play with to potentially add the star wing they need (i.e. Bradley Beal).
6. Golden State Warriors
The king has been knocked down a peg.
Kevin Durant is gone. Klay Thompson is rehabbing from a torn ACL. But the Warriors did well to retool their roster with young players, including All-Star D'Angelo Russell. Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Russell are enough for the Warriors to tread water until Thompson's return near the back half of the regular season.
5. Houston Rockets
The Rockets might have missed their window.
While they were busy fighting amongst themselves and trying to knock off the Warriors, the rest of the West made moves and Houston no longer can be seen as the clear second best team in the conference.
The James Harden-Chris Paul tandem might only have one year left to truly be effective, but is it enough for them to win the West?
4. Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers shook up their roster after getting swept out of the Western Conference finals.
Al-Farouq Aminu, Mo Harkless, Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard, Seth Curry, Jake Layman and Enes Kanter are gone. Kent Bazemore, Hassan Whiteside, Anthony Tolliver and Mario Hezonja are in.
Portland will expect a lot out of second-year forward Anfernee Simons, who the Blazers drafted in the first round last year. Expect the Blazers to be a major factor next season.
3 Los Angeles Lakers
Rob Pelinka asked the NBA gods for a superteam and Kawhi Leonard told him no.
Still, the Lakers have LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They've filled out the roster with a mix of capable veterans (Danny Green, Quinn Cook and Jared Dudley) and meme-team staples (JaVale McGee and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope).
If James and Davis are healthy, the Lakers are a threat to win the West.
2. Utah Jazz
Welcome to the bright lights, Utah.
After acquiring Mike Conley and signing Bojan Bogdanovic, the Jazz have catapulted themselves into the Western Conference title picture. A starting five of Conley, Bogdanovic, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert is one of the best in the NBA.
Will they have the bench bodies to win multiple grueling playoff series?
1. Los Angeles Clippers
The eight seed that pushed the healthy Warriors to six games added arguably the best player in the league in Kawhi Leonard and an MVP finalist in Paul George. The Clippers no longer are LA's ugly stepchild.
For now, the West is the Clips' to lose.