NBA season preview: Teams to watch

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San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) drives up against Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh (1) during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Spurs 97-94. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) drives up against Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh (1) during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Spurs 97-94. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The 2015–2016 NBA season tipped off Tuesday, with the season continuing until June.

Many of the NBA’s prominent contenders belong to the Western Conference. Last season, three teams in the East achieved 50-plus wins, while seven teams in the West did. The top teams from 2014–2015 have reloaded in hopes of claiming the title in June.

The defending-champion Golden State Warriors are led by a high-scoring offense with sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who are expected to post similar results to their 67-win performance in 2014–2015. Retaining defensive weapons Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala makes Golden State dangerous on both sides of the ball.

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Stephen Curry
23.8 PPG
7.7 APG2
2.0 SPG
.443 3PT%

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LaMarcus Aldridge
23.4 PPG
10.2 RPG
0.845 FT%

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Kawhi Leonard
16.5 PPG
7.2 RPG

2.3 SPG (league best)

 

Top: Winslow Townson | Associated Press Bottom: Daren Abate | Associated Press

The San Antonio Spurs faced a first-round exit in 2015, but the 2014 NBA champions won free agency when All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge decided to join Gregg Popovich’s system in San Antonio. The Spurs’ reloaded roster features veterans Tim Duncan and Tony Parker and a budding star in Kawhi Leonard, the NBA’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year.

The Cleveland Cavaliers were the champions of the Eastern Conference, but they were without All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in the NBA Finals. Four-time MVP LeBron James looks to lead the Cavs to their first-ever championship.


Ron Schwane | Associated Press

The Houston Rockets reached the Western Conference Finals last season, but were handily beaten by the Warriors. James Harden, the only player to score 2000 points in 2014–2015, runs the Rockets’ three-point oriented offense. A Finals appearance in a stacked conference may be a challenge, but the addition of point guard Ty Lawson makes this offense a force to be reckoned with.

Ben Margot | Associated Press

These contenders are the primary teams to watch this season, and the NBA champion will likely be one of these four. However, factors such as injuries and breakout players may come into play to alter the balance of power.

The 2015–2016 tipoff is here — ­basketball is finally back.

Interactives by Tom Li