Texas rules the West this year

Updated: October 25, 2004, 4:31 PM ET
By Chad Ford | NBA Insider
The West fell back to Earth this summer. Will it pick itself up? For the first time this millennium, everyone is penciling in an Eastern Conference team – Pistons or Pacers – to win it all.

Out West, one dynasty has crumbled (Lakers). A couple of more standards are on shaky ground, and a number of young upstarts are looking to end a stranglehold on the top four spots in the conference.

Parity is the name of the game out West. Top to bottom, it's tough to remember a time when the conference has been stronger. Every team in the West – even the Warriors, Clippers and Sonics – would be in the hunt for the playoffs in the East this season were they to switch conferences.

Picking the top eight playoff seeds is still impossible at this early juncture.

The Spurs and Timberwolves clearly have the best shot. But as many as 12 teams probably deserve a playoff seed this year.

NBA training camps opened Monday. Over the course of the next few weeks, some of our assumptions here will have to be changed, but if you want a sneak peak into who, on paper at least, looks good and who doesn't going into camp, Insider provides a primer.

Also see: Eastern Conference pre-season preview

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer