Doug Collins breaks down the Western Conference

In a conference call for TNT publicizing the start of the NBA season, analyst Doug Collins broke down the Western Conference.

Los Angeles Lakers: “I think they are absolutely loaded. If Kobe (Bryant) stays healthy, coming off the brilliant season he had last year. They get Andrew Bynum back. I’m looking forward to seeing Bynum and (Pau) Gasol together. Imagine a team that is able to bring Lamar Odom off the bench, a bench that I think is the best in the NBA. They are my favorites to win the Pacific (Division).”

Phoenix Suns: “(The Suns) are going to be very interesting with a new style. How many games will Steve Nash miss, they are talking about him playing in 70 games. Instead of cutting his minutes, have him miss some games along the way. How many games will Shaq (O’Neal) miss? This is an older team with a new coach and a new style. They are going to very interesting to watch.”

Los Angeles Clippers: “One of the teams that I think could be a surprise is the Clippers. They have a lot of talent with Baron Davis and Marcus Camby. If that group can stay healthy, (rookie) Eric Gordon is a young player that can score along with Al Thornton. The big thing (with the Clippers) is how are the pieces going to fit? Can they get it up-tempo and get out and play?”

Golden State Warriors: “The Warriors are going to suffer losing Baron Davis (to the Clippers) and with Monta Ellis’ injury.”

Sacramento Kings: “The Kings are still very young. I think they are still a team in transition who have re-loaded with some young, talented players.”

New Orleans Hornets: “(The Hornets have) Chris Paul and they added James Posey (from the Celtics) to go along with David West, Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler. They are very, very talented. I think they are going to learn from their experience last year in the seventh game (of the playoffs) when they lost at home to San Antonio (Spurs).”

Houston Rockets: “The Houston Rockets get (forward) Ron Artest (from the Kings) and anytime you bring him to your team, you never question his talent. Chemistry is the word that is always at the forefront (with Artest). If the team is healthy with Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Shane Battier and Luis Scola, they can be one of the most talented teams in the NBA.”

San Antonio Spurs: “The Spurs still have their core of three stars (Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili) but they’ve lost Manu Ginobili to an injury. How long will he be out? I worry about their energy and production coming off the bench. (Head coach) Greg Popovich has always done a great job of managing his star players’ minutes and having them ready for the playoffs”

Dallas Mavericks: “The Mavericks will be interesting. (New head coach) Rick Carlisle is taking his tremendous coaching ability to Dallas. Jason Kidd will be there for the long haul. They are going to have a change in style and it looks like they will play up-tempo with Jason Kidd. With the core of Jason Terry and Josh Howard, that group of players is a very potent team. They are going to be wrestling with some playoff demons. The last three years, they looked like they were going to win the championship and (lost in the playoffs).”

Memphis Grizzlies: “The Grizzlies are rebuilding.”

Utah Jazz: “I like the Jazz. Their core is back led by (head coach) Jerry Sloan.”

Denver Nuggets: “(The Nuggets) lost their best defensive player in Marcus Camby (to the Clippers) and Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson can give the team 50 points (a night) but their frontline is going to have to come up big. Nene is going to have to stay healthy as well as Kenyon Martin.”

Portland Trail Blazers: “Can the Blazers take the next step? Greg Oden and Rudy Fernandez are two tremendous talents who were added to the team. Can they find a way to make it into the playoffs?”

Minnesota Timberwolves: “(The Minnesota Timberwolves) are young and improving. They have a great nucleus with Al Jefferson, who’s a great, young forward (along with) Kevin Love and Mike Miller, so they are moving in the right direction.”

Oklahoma Thunder: “Oklahoma (Thunder) has a new home (moving from Seattle) and I think they are heading in the right direction but they are too young to make a dent in the very difficult West (Conference).”

“The Grizzlies are rebuilding.” Wow, only four words on the Grizzlies, Doug? You don’t want to mention the young nucleus of Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo and Mike Conley?

Other than the Memphis bit, it’s hard to argue with anything that Collins says here. He did a nice job of zeroing in on the one or two issues that each team is facing.

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