West rankings: Can Harden, Rockets rise?

Sam Amico

The first Western Conference power rankings of 2017-18. Plenty more to follow before the start of the season. In case you missed it, here's the East.

1. Golden State Warriors: Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and the rest implementing a brand of unselfish offense and determined defense? Yeah, everyone else is still playing for second.

2. Houston Rockets: It will be interesting to see if Chris Paul and James Harden can mesh to form a frightening backcourt. Will be more interesting if Carmelo Anthony eventually joins.

3. San Antonio Spurs: Clearly, this is Kawhi Leonard's team now. The system will wok just fine, but how much do Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have left?

4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Remember when Russell Westbrook had a major star to help? Thunder went to West finals. We're about to find out how good Paul George really is.

5. Memphis Grizzlies: As usual, so much depends on the health of Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons. If they stay on floor, Grizz will keep grinding.

6. Portland Trail Blazers:Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are good enough alone to get Blazers to playoffs. How far they go, though, will be up to the others.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves: With Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, Wolves are this year's true sleeper. Should make the playoffs, could get a higher seed, could win a round.

8. Los Angeles Clippers: This team has suddenly become Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Danilo Gallinari and a bunch of guys who should be coming off the bench.

9. New Orleans Pelicans: Scariest frontcourt in basketball with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. But is there enough around them to get back to the postseason? Maybe.

10. Denver Nuggets: Another team that is right there, waiting to break into the top eight. Adding Paul Millsap to Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray may do the trick.

11. Utah Jazz: Sometimes, losing your best player can mean the rest of the team rallying around each other to prove everyone wrong. The Jazz will need big years from Rudy Gobert, Rodney Hood and Ricky Rubio to make it happen, though.

12. Los Angeles Lakers: If Lonzo Ball is as great as everyone thinks he could be, LA could rise quickly. More likely, this will be another season of a young team continuing to come together.

13. Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki is on his last legs and backcourt players Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry are still proving themselves. Read: Mavs could land just about anywhere.

14. Sacramento Kings: With additions of rookies of De'Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles, and veterans Zach Randolph, Vince Carter and George Hill, Kings should be tons of fun to watch. They may have to wait on the wins, though.

15. Phoenix Suns: Should've pulled a deal for Kyrie Irving. Devin Booker and Josh Jackson could offer hope for the future, but this team otherwise has tons of holes.

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