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NBA: 2022/23 Western Conference preview

The Golden State Warriors landed the NBA championship last season after coming through the Western Conference and this year's fight for supremacy in the West looks set to be another intense battle.

The West has been stronger than the East in recent years, producing six of the last nine champions. Going back further, the West has been the strongest conference since the late 1990s with 16 winners to the Eastern Conference's eight since Chicago Bulls completed their second three-peat in 1998.

Golden State have been the dominant force in recent years and last season's 4-2 success over Boston Celtics in the Finals Series saw them win the championship for the fourth time in the last eight years. The Dubs are the 3/1 favourites to win the Western Conference outright, and 6/1 to win the championship, but it won't be straightforward for Steve Kerr's side. 

WhatNBA Season 2022/23
WhereUSA and Canada
When18th October 2022 - June 2023
How to watchSky Sports, NBA Pass, bet365's Sports Live Streaming
OddsGS Warriors 6/1, MIL Bucks 13/2, BOS Celtics 13/2, LA Clippers 13/2, BKN Nets 7/1 

Offseason drama for Golden State 

Golden State have largely kept their team intact going into the new campaign with Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green, who are both likely to be among the reserves, their only significant additions. With younger players like James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and Jordan Poole expected to push on further in the season ahead they look well-placed to mount a serious defence of their title but the offseason has not been without incident. 

Veteran Draymond Green and Poole were involved in an altercation in training earlier this month and the fallout between the two players has dominated the Dubs' headlines since. They have featured together in a preseason game over the last few days and the situation may have been resolved, but it does mean their preparations have not been ideal. 

Suns have a point to prove

Golden State may have won the championship last term but it was Pacific Division rivals Phoenix Suns who dominated in the regular season.

The Suns claimed the top seed in the Western Conference with a league-best 64-18 overall record. The Suns had reached the Finals Series in the previous campaign but they were unable to match that last term, falling short in the playoffs as they went down 4-2 to Dallas Mavericks in the second round.

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Like Golden State, Phoenix have kept their team together going into the 2022/23 campaign and if they can hit form at the right time they will be serious contenders once again. The Suns are 10/1 to win the championship and could claim top seed in the West by posting the best regular season record in the conference. 

Resurgent Clippers bidding for first championship

Los Angeles Clippers spent the entirety of last season without injured star Kawhi Leonard and they were also missing fellow key man Paul George for large periods.

Both are fit ahead of the new campaign and that should propel them straight back into championship contention. The Clippers supporting cast managed to keep them competitive last season, qualifying for the play-in tournament, and the arrival of point guard John Wall makes them look a fearsome proposition.

The Clippers have never managed to win a championship but they have arguably one of the strongest starting lineups in the NBA and have a team packed with plenty of experience - Leonard is a two-time champion and two-time Finals MVP and coach Tyronn Lue won the title with Cleveland in 2016 - so they should be considered among the frontrunners this year and they are 13/2 to win the championship. 

Denver and Dallas in the mix

Like the Clippers, Denver Nuggets had some serious injury concerns to contend with last season but have those players back going into the new season.

Reigning two-time MVP Nikola Jokic shouldered much of the burden last season and helped the Nuggets reach the playoffs. With Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. fit again, Denver are capable of beating any rival over a best-of-seven series.

Dallas Mavericks are perhaps not as balanced a team as the likes of Denver, Golden State, the Clippers and a few others but in Luka Doncic they have one of the best players in the league. The Slovenian is one of the favourites for MVP honours and with Doncic in their team the Mavs will feel they will always have a chance. 

Denver are 8/1 to win the Western Conference outright and Dallas can be backed at 10/1

Outsiders shouldn't be written off

There is quality throughout the West and there are eight or nine teams who will feel they could be crowned champions at the end of the season.

Memphis Grizzlies claimed second seed last season and gave Golden State a real battle in a 4-2 series defeat in the playoffs. Minnesota Timberwolves have made some bold moves in the offseason, capturing three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert from Utah Jazz, and like the Grizzlies have an improving young team.

Los Angeles Lakers have a new coach in place in Darvin Ham, and with LeBron James on their roster shouldn't be written off despite last season's failures. Similarly, Portland Trail Blazers have Damian Lillard and could be in the title conversation, while the return of Zion Williamson from injury makes New Orleans Pelicans a far more dangerous prospect. 

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