NBA

Porterville Recorder - - SPORTS -

reg­u­lar-sea­son record a year ago and has reign­ing MVP James Harden. Utah has a bud­ding su­per­star in Dono­van Mitchell, and cer­tainly got the league’s at­ten­tion with its play­off run last sea­son.

But in the West, un­til fur­ther no­tice, it’s still the War­riors and then ev­ery­body else.

“It’s a marathon,” War­riors guard Stephen Curry said. “There’s a lot of time be­tween now and April and May and June, but if we go about it the right way to start the sea­son, it can feed on it­self in terms of the ex­pec­ta­tion we have night in, night out.”

A look at the West, in pre­dicted or­der of fin­ish:

PLAY­OFF BOUND 1. GOLDEN STATE — War­riors aim­ing for their third con­sec­u­tive NBA cham­pi­onship, some­thing only the Lak­ers, Celtics and Bulls fran­chises have done.

2. UTAH — Dono­van Mitchell is a le­git­i­mate star, coach Quin Sny­der has been un­der­rated for far too long, and the Jazz went 29-6 to fin­ish last sea­son.

3. HOUS­TON — The Rock­ets have the MVP in James Harden, a leader in Chris Paul and added Carmelo An­thony, but ex­pect­ing an­other 67-15 sea­son is a lot.

4. L.A. LAK­ERS — Lebron James is still the best player in the game and shows no signs of slow­ing down, so doubt­ing his chances seems less than bril­liant.

5. OK­LA­HOMA

CITY — This is a sign of how loaded the West re­mains: The Thun­der are re­ally good, and that won’t as­sure them home-court for Round 1.

6. DEN­VER — Los­ing Game 82 last sea­son to Min­nesota and miss­ing the play­offs be­cause of that out­come should serve as a mas­sive mo­ti­va­tor for Den­ver.

7. NEW OR­LEANS

— De­mar­cus Cousins is gone, Ra­jon Rondo is gone, but An­thony Davis is still there and that should be enough for a Pel­i­cans play­off run.

8. SAN AN­TO­NIO

— De­jounte Mur­ray’s ACL tear is a dis­as­ter, but any team with Lamar­cus Aldridge, Demar Derozan and Gregg Popovich still has a lot.

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