While the Golden States Warriors will once again be favourites to win the NBA Western Conference, LeBron James' arrival with the Los Angeles Lakers suggests a new champion could be on the horizon.
That new champion may not emerge this season as James is surrounded by young players along with several journeymen, but if the four-time MVP can get a player like Kawhi Leonard to join him next season, there could be a power shift coming in the West.
That being said, until a team proves it can beat the Warriors, this is Golden State's conference.
We take a look at the Western Conference in 2018-19.
Team rising: Los Angeles Lakers
With the addition of LeBron, Los Angeles are projected by bookmakers to win 13 more games than they did last season (48.5). While that may be a little bit optimistic considering the depth of the West, the Lakers are bound to get much better simply with the addition of 'The King'.
Team falling: Minnesota Timberwolves
After acquiring former Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler during the offseason in 2017, the Timberwolves went from 14th in the West with 31 wins to eighth with 47. Now Butler wants out, and until Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins prove they can lead this team to greener pastures, it would be far too optimistic to say they will win more than 40 games. Minnesota was 10-13 without Butler in their line-up last season.
Under-the-radar team: Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks may not make the playoffs, but with the addition of DeAndre Jordan, a second year for Dennis Smith Jr., a stud rookie in Luka Doncic and added talent around Harrison Barnes, it is not unrealistic to say Dallas, 24-58 in 2017-18, could win another 10 games this season and possibly even more than that.
Under-the-radar player: New Orleans Pelicans G Jrue Holiday
The New Orleans guard had a coming-out party of sorts in the first round of the playoffs, when the Pelicans swept the Portland Trail Blazers. Holiday averaged 23.9 points, 6.3 assists and 5.7 rebounds in the postseason and 19 points per game in the regular season. He dominated Portland's backcourt defensively and he may now have the attention to earn a second All-Star selection.
Northwest: Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC struggled all last season to incorporate Carmelo Anthony into their offense and it cost the team wins throughout the season. Now it is the Russell Westbrook and Paul George show and with an entire season focusing on that, the Thunder should win the Northwest.
Pacific: Golden State Warriors
This is perhaps the most clear-cut division in the NBA.
Southwest: Houston Rockets
Houston lost two big defensive pieces in Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, but their biggest threat in the division, the Pelicans, lost DeMarcus Cousins, a huge reason for New Orleans' success against the Rockets. Add that to a division with the Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies and a recently injury-riddled San Antonio Spurs team, and Houston should win the Southwest again.
1. Golden State Warriors
2. Houston Rockets
3. Los Angeles Lakers
4. New Orleans Pelicans
5. Oklahoma City Thunder
6. Utah Jazz
7. Portland Trail Blazers
8. Denver Nuggets
Conference champions: Golden State Warriors
Golden State are the four-time defending champions in the Western Conference and the two-time reigning NBA champions, and they added one of the best centers in the game in Cousins. They also lost virtually nothing from their core.
The Warriors still have Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. They lost JaVale McGee and Nick Young, and are still trying to figure out Patrick McCaw's contract, but Quinn Cook, Jordan Bell and Kevon Looney all got valuable postseason experience last season. And Shaun Livingston is back too.
This team is stacked and might be even better than they were last year.
|Cricket Australia to maintain Smith, Warner ball tampering bans|
|Brazil´s Tite encouraged by Neymar captaincy|
|Holmes set for NFL switch after Cronulla release|
|Dier encourages English youngsters to follow Sancho´s lead|
|Southgate promises further changes to England squad|
|Jones sceptical over Pocock injury|
|Sane encouraged despite Germany´s ´annoying´ Nations League draw|
|Character got Netherlands through, says Koeman|
|Netherlands´ focus still on Euros - Van Dijk|
|Ireland will be ready for qualifiers, insists O´Neill|
|Smith undergoes successful surgery, Redskins sign Sanchez|
|Germany 2 Netherlands 2: Dramatic five-minute fightback seals Oranje progression|
|Denmark 0 Republic of Ireland 0: Thrills at a premium again in Aarhus|
|O´Brien could return for start of Six Nations|
|Cavani: Neymar and I are ´friends, brothers, team-mates´|
|Pothas named Windies interim head coach|
|LA Galaxy planning for Ibrahimovic stay|
|NFL will return to Mexico City in 2019|
|Broner vows to end Pacquiao´s career in Las Vegas|
|UEFA should punish PSG and Man City, says LaLiga chief|
|Teenage driver Floersch has ´no fear of paralysis´ after operation|
|Mancini bemoans Italy´s misfortune in front of goal|
|Sprint legend Johnson ´pretty much back to normal´ after stroke|
|Bournemouth defender Adam Smith out for three months|
|World champions France out to end 2018 on a high|
|I told him there´s no future in football! A-Rod relieved to be ignored by Mahomes|
|Dembele must focus and be more responsible - Suarez|
|Neymar could return one day – Barca chief|
|Cole backs West Ham to keep Arnautovic|
|Injury rules Bernardo Silva out of Poland clash|
|Lamar Jackson debut start ´spectacular´ - Ravens coach Harbaugh|
|Babar run out the turning point, laments Sarfraz|
|West Ham boost London Stadium capacity to 60,000|
|A great advertisement for Test cricket - Williamson revels in stunning win|
|Van Dijk one of the world´s best - Klaassen|
|Floersch had ´angel on her shoulder´ in horror crash|
|Gascoigne charged with sexual assault|
|I am going to stay at Chelsea and fight, insists Giroud|
|Hansen to make announcement on All Blacks future|
|I have reached the top by joining Chelsea - Sarri|
|Bonucci tells Italy boo boys to ´live with less envy´|
|Dramatic Pakistan collapse gives Stead first New Zealand Test win|
|Button enjoying racing for first time in years|
|Dortmund chief not planning Pulisic sale|
|Theismann: Smith leg break ´heart-wrenching´ to watch|
|Wolves defender Jonny suffers knee injury|
|Holmes to meet with Sharks amid NFL switch talk|
|LeBron made 51 points ´look easy´, says Walton|
|McGuire signs four-year deal with Cowboys|
|Bears beat Vikings to extend NFC North lead|
|Peng overcomes Davis in Houston final|
|Kerr says this has been his toughest stretch as Warriors coach|
|LeBron scores 51 in Lakers´ win, Warriors fall to Spurs|
|Win more than Djokovic? Let´s chill out – Zverev|
|Steelers´ rally highlights wild day of close, last-minute finishes|
|Modric not worried about Ballon d´Or|
|Saints pull away for blowout victory over Eagles, extend winning streak to nine|
|Martinez laments loss of control by Belgium|
|Logano claims first NASCAR Cup championship|
|Luis Enrique delighted with attitude of Spain´s squad|
|Stevens tells Celtics to get ´tougher´|
|Griezmann: Being Messi´s lieutenant played a part in rejecting Barcelona|
|Curry proud of how Warriors handled Green-Durant incident|
|Courtois: Belgium thought Nations League job was done|
|Howell ends 11-year title drought to deny record-breaking Rodgers|
|Robben dismisses Bayern title talk|
|Huge blow for Redskins as QB Smith breaks tibia and fibula|
|Switzerland 5 Belgium 2: Seferovic treble crowns incredible comeback|
|Titans DC Pees taken to hospital during Colts game|
|Spain 1 Bosnia-Herzegovina 0: Debutant Mendez spares Morata´s blushes|