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Warriors biggest threat in West is debatable

The Golden State Warriors are the best team that the NBA has ever seen. With all due respect to the Boston Celtics from the 1960s, the Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers of the ’80s and the Chicago Bulls of the ’90s, the Warriors are something the league and its fans have never seen before.

If there was any doubt, that point should have hammered home multiple times over when Golden State didn’t lose a game in the Western Conference playoffs this spring. Now, the offseason has brought a legitimate shakeup to the West, leaving a real question: who is the biggest threat to the Warriors in 2018?

The San Antonio Spurs were the only team this year with a real chance to cause the Warriors any problems, so let’s start there. San Antonio still has the league’s best coach with Gregg Popovich and a true superstar in Kawhi Leonard. Leonard has some help as well, with LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol on the interior, along with Patty Mills and Danny Green on the perimeter.

Elsewhere, the Houston Rockets got better. Houston traded defensive standout Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams over to the Los Angeles Clippers for Chris Paul, giving the Rockets a tremendous backcourt. There are still real questions about the frontcourt, but Mike D’Antoni has a team that can play his style. Houston should be a contender for 55 wins and a nice playoff run.

The Utah Jazz are an uncertainty because we aren’t sure what is going to happen with Gordon Hayward. Utah won 51 games last year and still has a very good roster, one made better by acquiring Ricky Rubio from the Minnesota Timberwolves for a first round pick. Should Hayward return, there is a nice core that includes Rudy Gobert, Joe Johnson, Derrick Favors and Rubio.

Speaking of the Timberwolves, they now enter the conversation. Although Rubio was moved, the oft-injured guard was replaced by Jeff Teague. Teague will have plenty of options to garner assists with Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns at his disposal. Minnesota isn’t good enough to battle with the elites yet, but this is a team to watch moving forward.

Finally, we have the Oklahoma City Thunder. Oklahoma City already has the MVP in Russell Westbrook and a pair of quality big men in Enes Kanter and Steven Adams. On Friday, general manager Sam Presti went all-in and acquired Paul George from the Indiana Pacers for Victor Oladipo and a spare part. George and Westbrook are a dominant pair, and should have the Thunder vying for a run toward the conference finals.

San Antonio still has the deepest team and best roster outside of Golden State, but the Thunder have a pair of top-10 players. Minnesota isn’t there yet and Utah is a sleeper (if Hayward returns), while the Rockets are an enigma. Can two ball-dominant guards work?

The West is loaded, and should be a ton of fun this upcoming season.

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