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NBA Preview: Western Conference Capsules

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Listed in predicted order of finish, along with predicted finish in division, last season's record and head coach.

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1st Pacific | 57-25 | Phil Jackson

Unable to mesh in a front line with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom may have to serve as the sixth man. Odom has been an enigma much of his career, but the motivation of a contract year may finally lead to some consistent, inspired play.


1st Southwest | 52-26 | Byron Scott

By winning championships in two of the past three seasons -- with Miami and Boston -- James Posey has earned a reputation for being the final piece for a contender: Robert Horry 2.0. He adds leadership, defense and timely three-point shooting.


2nd Southwest | 55-27 | Rick Adelman

His career has been controversial, but Ron Artest's intensity is rarely questioned. He brings a rugged, physical presence to the Rockets. Reunited with his favorite coach and in a contract year, Artest should be on his best behavior.


1st Northwest | 54-28 | Jerry Sloan

Mehmet Okur's off year was lost in Deron Williams's ascension, Carlos Boozer's progression and the Andrei Kirilenko soap opera. But with Okur able to opt out of his deal next summer, it seems likely that he will push for another all-star campaign.


3rd Southwest | 56-26 | Gregg Popovich

While Manu GinĂ³bili recovers from an ankle injury, Roger Mason Jr. likely will get most of his minutes. With Tim Duncan down low and Tony Parker driving, Mason may get more open looks than he's seen in his career. The Spurs need his young(er) legs.


4th Southwest | 51-31 | Rick Carlisle

Josh Howard has been a public relations nightmare this year -- he admitted smoking marijuana in the offseason, was ticketed for drag racing and trashed the national anthem. Howard could put it all in his rearview mirror with another all-star campaign.


2nd Pacific | 55-27 | Terry Porter

With Steve Nash, Shaquille O'Neal and Grant Hill getting older, the Suns are becoming Amare Stoudemire's team. Stoudemire exploded when he moved to power forward last season, but he will have to develop a more defensive mind-set under Porter.


2nd Northwest | 41-41 | Nate McMillan

All-star Brandon Roy established himself as the team's anchor last season. Roy's leadership and playmaking will be instrumental for the Trail Blazers to make the playoffs for the first time since 2003.


3rd Northwest | 50-32 | George Karl

It's becoming clear that Allen Iverson will not win a title in Denver, but the question now is how much longer he'll play with Carmelo Anthony. Iverson will be a free agent next summer, and could be traded with the Nuggets focused on rebuilding.


3rd Pacific | 23-59 | Mike Dunleavy

Although Elton Brand bolted, Baron Davis is elated about returning home. The Clippers will be pleased if the two-time all-star is healthy and motivated. Davis already has lost 19 pounds on the Jenny Craig diet.


4th Pacific | 48-34 | Don Nelson

Baron Davis left town, Gilbert Arenas turned them down and Monta Ellis went down riding a moped. So what do Warriors fans have to be excited about? Corey Maggette? At least Maggette will be happy firing away in Nelson's freewheeling system.


5th Pacific | 38-44 | Reggie Theus

Kevin Martin is the Kings' efficient leading scorer, but he cannot do it alone. With Ron Artest in Houston and Mike Bibby in Atlanta, John Salmons will get the scoring and playmaking opportunities he has long desired.


4th Northwest | 22-60 | Randy Wittman

Al Jefferson did his best Kevin Garnett impersonation last season, posting big numbers on a lousy team. Now Minnesota actually has another Kevin. Kevin Love's pick-and-pop game and deft passing should free up Jefferson to do more damage inside.


5th Northwest | 20-62 | P.J. Carlesimo

The nomadic basketball career of Kevin Durant takes him to his fifth city in the past five years. The former Seattle SuperSonics have settled in Oklahoma City. Unfortunately, the Thunder is still bad.


5th Southwest | 22-60 | Marc Iavaroni

Rudy Gay soared after Pau Gasol was shipped to the Lakers and nearly won the league's most improved player award. Gay will be the go-to-guy from the start and Iavaroni will give him more freedom and a greater leadership role on a really young club.

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