Will Warriors finish ahead of Minnesota, Phoenix?

853739.jpg

Will Warriors finish ahead of Minnesota, Phoenix?

This is part 2 of a three-part series in which NBA Insider Matt Steinmetz takes a look at the six Western Conference teams the Warriors will be competing with for the final two spots in the playoffs.

Keep in mind that Steinmetz is assuming Oklahoma City, L.A. Lakers, L.A. Clippers, Memphis, San Antonio, and Denver will hold down the top six spots in the Western Conference, and that the Warriors will definitely finish ahead of Sacramento and New Orleans.

Part 1 compared the Warriors to the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets.

Part 3 will pit the Warriors against Portland and Utah (coming Tuesday morning).

Minnesota TimberwolvesWhile the Timberwolves roster is intriguing, its also a little bit unknown. Their best player, Kevin Love, can stuff the boxscore with stats but he is still working on making teammates better.Many wonder whether a team with Love as its best player can be successful.Love had a terrific season in 2011-12, but his effectiveness and efficiency went down when point guard Ricky Rubio got hurt. Rubio wont be ready by the start of the regular season, and thats a factor for a team thats going to need a lot to go right to make the postseason.The hope is Rubio will be back around December and for the T-Wolves sake he better be. The T-Wolves were 21-19 when Rubio went down with injury; they finished the season 26-40.Minnesota also needs Brandon Roy to resemble the player he once was and for Andrei Kirilenko to do the same.Can the T-Wolves make the playoffs? Yes, but its not going to be easy. What do you think?Phoenix SunsReports of the Suns demise have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, they lost Steve Nash and thats going to hurt, but Phoenixs roster has no shortage of legitimate players.Goran Dragic is no Nash, but hes not bad, either. And having rookie Kendall Marshall backing him up is a nice little combination. What the Suns also have is size on the interior in Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola, a notorious Warriors killer. And if Jermaine ONeal can give the Suns anything, it will be a bonus.What the Suns did do this offseason is overpay for Michael Beasley, giving him a three-year, 18 million deal. But when you throw Beasley alongside Jared Dudley, Shannon Brown, Markieff Morris and Wes Johnson, you realize that the Suns didnt drop off the map.Phoenix went 33-33 a season ago, and its not out of the realm of possibility they could hover around .500 this upcoming season. But the question is: Do they have enough to make the playoffs?

Rockets GM: Chris Paul trade 'gives us a real shot' vs NBA juggernauts

Rockets GM: Chris Paul trade 'gives us a real shot' vs NBA juggernauts

The NBA took a massive power shift Wednesday with the Clippers trading point guard Chris Paul to the Rockets for seven players, a 2018 first-round pick (protected Nos. 1-3) and $661,000. 

Houston GM Daryl Morey is going all in on a mission to compete with the Warriors and he believes the Rockets are now there with the pairing of Paul and MVP runner-up James Harden. 

"You know, it's a guards-based league. It's a weapons race in the NBA and you're either in the weapons race or on the sidelines," Morey said at the team's press conference, as captured by Mark Berman of Houston's FOX 26. "With James Harden in his prime and Chris Paul in his prime, this gives us a real shot to chase the juggernaut teams in this league." 

Paul, who turned 32 in May, is a nine-time All-Star. He spent his last six seasons with the Clippers and averaged 18.1 points, 9.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game during the 2016-17 season in 61 games played. 

This past season, Harden became a primary point guard for the first time under Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced offense and the bearded lefty excelled in his new position. Harden led the NBA with 11.2 assists per game while putting up 29.1 points per game. 

Houston received guards Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, forwards Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell, plus the non-guaranteed deals of DeAndre Liggins, Darrun Hilliard and Kyle Wiltjer from Los Angeles. 

The Rockets went 55-27 last season, four games ahead of the Clippers, but were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs to the Spurs. 

GM Bob Myers reiterates Warriors' stance on signing Steph Curry long term

GM Bob Myers reiterates Warriors' stance on signing Steph Curry long term

DANVILLE -- Everything the Warriors have said and done, as well as everything Stephen Curry has said, indicates there is no chance of a divorce, even though Curry becomes an unrestricted free agent at 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning.

Curry has pointed out numerous times that he plans to sign with the Warriors, implying that it would be pointless for other teams to pursue him on the open market.

And on Wednesday afternoon, Warriors president and general manager Bob Myers reiterated the team’s stance regarding the two-time MVP by expressing Curry would be a top priority.

“He’s got to be,” Myers said at Monte Vista High School, where he and Warriors forward Draymond Green was subjects of a news conference/pep rally in the wake of Myers being named Executive of the Year and Green being named Defensive Player of the Year.

Myers was careful not to slight other players the Warriors expect to re-sign, such as Kevin Durant, and those the team hopes to retain, notably Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

“Actually, we’ve got a lot of priorities,” Myers said. “But, certainly, touching all of them and making sure we do our job and make sure they know we want them is important,” Myers said. “But he knows how we feel. I think he’s happy. But he’s a huge priority.”

The Warriors are allowed to pay Curry about $200 million over the next five seasons, and CEO Joe Lacob has said he’s ready to do whatever it takes.