5. Golden State Warriors: The Warriors did lose a couple of key bench pieces in Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry to bring in Andre Iguodala, but if David Lee and Andrew Bogut can return healthy and stay that way, this team can be scary good. Iguodala is the blue-collar type of player that can take Mark Jackson’s team deep into the postseason.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Until Russell Westbrook returns, it’s hard to rank the Thunder as high as they will probably be once the season rolls around. But Kevin Durant is in mid-season form already, 12 assists against the Sixers on Tuesday night and shooting 50 percent from the field in two games. Oklahoma City had a solid draft, but typically their rookies don’t make an impact in year one, if they see the floor at all. The one question the Thunder must answer is how they will replace Martin’s scoring off the bench.
3. Houston Rockets: Add Dwight Howard to a core that already features James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin, and Kevin McHale’s team poses a serious threat to the entire Western Conference. It could take some time though for them to gel as a team, but I certainly like their future.
2. San Antonio Spurs: After a second consecutive heartbreaking exit from the postseason, there is some uncertainty on how the Spurs will respond to another long grind of a season. But I learned a long time ago not to write off this team and I’m not doing it now.
1. Los Angeles Clippers: No team had a better offseason than the Clippers, adding Doc Rivers as head coach, plus bringing in the likes of: Jared Dudley, J.J. Redick, Darren Collison, Byron Mullens and Antawn Jamison. Throw in the likes of an MVP candidate in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and this Clippers team has a chance to do something big in 2014.
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