Terry Foster's Western Conference preview

Terry Foster
The Detroit News

Terry Foster of The Detroit News breaks down the teams in the Western Conference, in predicted order of division finish.​


Oklahoma City

Projected record: 53-29

Additions: Cameron Payne and Dakari Johnson

Losses: Perry Jones III

Kevin Durant is back, which means the Thunder goes from a team that missed the playoffs to one that can challenge the Warriors. But there is speculation the Durant-Bryant Westbrook duo could be breaking up after this season. The downside is this is not a good enough defensive team to win a title.


Projected record: 45-37

Additions: Gerald Henderson, Al-Farouq Aminu, Noah Vonleh, Mason Plumlee

Losses: LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Arron Afflalo

The Trail Blazers lost a lot of talent — LaMarcus Aldridge being the biggest. Without Nicolas Batum and Arron Afflalo, this becomes the Damian Lillard show. Look for C.J. McCollum to launch threes (48 percent).


Projected record: 45-37

Additions: Emmanuel Mudiay, Kostas Papanikolaou

Losses: Ty Lawson

Ty Lawson and his toxic alcoholic binges are gone, along with coach Brian Shaw. The team can build around Emmanuel Mudiay. The Nuggets should be a bad defensive team despite Jusuf Nurkic’s defense.


Projected record: 34-48

Additions: Trey Lyles

Losses: None

Big man Rudy Gobert is a terrific and strong talent who could help any team. He is flanked by Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, who are on an upward swing. The three together makes the Jazz dangerous at home.


Projected record: 18-64

Additions: Karl Anthony-Towns, Tyus Jones, Kevin Garnett

Losses: Chase Budinger, Gary Neal, Arinze Onuaku

Veteran Kevin Garnett comes in as mentor, baby sitter and future team owner. But Andrew Wiggins and Anthony-Towns must learn. And is PG Ricky Rubio all flash? It seems that way.


San Antonio

Projected record: 57-25

Additions: LaMarcus Aldridge, Ray McCallum, David West

Losses: Jeff Ayres, Aron Baynes, Marco Belinelli, and Tiago Splitter

The Spurs are aging but have enough youth and talent in LaMarcus Aldridge to make one more run. Throw in Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw, and the Spurs are cooking.


Projected record: 53-29

Additions: Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Ty Lawson, Marcus Thornton

Losses: Nick Johnson, Kostas Papanikolaou, Pablo Prigioni, Josh Smith

James Harden is an MVP, Dwight Howard is talented but can’t stay healthy. The Rockets are taking a chance on Ty Lawson. He can push the ball, but will he be in the lineup enough to do it with his past drinking problems?


Projected record: 49-33

Additions: Matt Barnes, Brandan Wright

Losses: Kosta Koufos

The Grizzlies are steady but unspectacular. They have more muscle inside with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, G Mike Conlin is steady outside, and Matt Barnes provides grit. They need more outside shooting to contend.

New Orleans

Projected record: 49-33

Additions: Brandon Dawson, Kendrick Perkins

Losses: Toney Douglas

Most general managers will tell you they want F Anthony Davis to build a team around. He is unstoppable many nights and is an underrated defender. But the Pelicans also have a solid backcourt in Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday. This team is dangerous.


Projected record: 44-38

Additions: Wesley Matthews, JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Deron Williams

Losses: Rajon Rondo, Richard Jefferson, Tyson Chandler, Al-Farouq Aminu, Monta Ellis, Amare Stoudemire

Dreams of adding DeAndre Jordan lasted a few hours as the Clippers got him back. There is a collection of players that can handle the load for Dirk Nowitzki, who picks his spots to turn up the heat.


Golden State

Projected record: 58-24

Additions: Kevon Looney, Chris Babb

Losses: David Lee

Gs Klay Thompson and Steph Curry are one of the best backcourts in history. Throw in glue guy Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut, and it is easy to see why this team won.

L.A. Clippers

Projected record: 53-29

Additions: Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce

Losses: Matt Barnes, Spencer Hawes

The Clippers have tough guys in DeAndre Jordon and Blake Griffin, but the rest of the league continues to throw sand in their faces.


Projected record: 41-41

Additions: Tyson Chandler, Mirza Teletovic, Devin Booker

Losses: Marcus Morris

The Suns struck out in the LaMarcus Aldridge sweepstakes and traded half their team. Markieff Morris can be a third cog in the Suns’ two-guard, uptempo, spread-the-ball attack.

L.A. Lakers

Projected record: 33-49

Additions: Brandon Bass, Roy Hibbert, Jonathan Holmes, D’Angelo Russell

Losses: Carlos Boozer, Ed Davis, Wesley Johnson, Jeremy Lin

Kobe Bryant is old and stumbling a bit, but plays as if he were 24 years old again. This should be the final year of Bryant in Los Angeles.


Projected record: 26-56

Additions: Marco Belinelli, Willie Cauley-Stein, Rajon Rondo

Losses: Jason Thompson, Nik Stauskas, Derrick Williams

The last time they played meaningful games, Chris Webber was on the squad. The Kings will suffer their 10th consecutive losing season.