July 11, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Team USA players from left, guard Kevin Durant, guard Russell Westbrook and guard James Harden during practice at the UNLV Mendenhall Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Kevin Durant, James Harden say OKC Thunder are still Western Conference favorites

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The news dominating the NBA right now is the Los Angeles Lakers and their trade to acquire All-Star center Dwight Howard.

The Lakers made the two biggest moves of the summer now, trading for Howard after trading for Steve Nash earlier. They now have a starting five that suddenly looks like it might be the best in the NBA including Howard, Nash, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant.

“That’s what the Lakers do,” Kevin Durant said. “They have great management and ownership to make those moves come to life.”

The defending Western Conference champs still say they are the team to beat in the conference though.


Harden is right on with this. We’re always so quick to crown teams before they’ve even stepped on the floor together as is the case with the new-look Lakers.

The Thunder may not be making drastic changes to their roster for next season but that’s because they don’t have to. They’ll gladly take the lessons learned from an NBA Finals loss to the Miami Heat and experience of their four best players playing in the Olympic gold medal game tomorrow into next season without shaking up their roster at all.

It’s no doubt however that the Lakers have improved their roster and done so dramatically. They’ll be better next year but the Thunder will too. And the Lakers have a lot of ground to make up on the Thunder.

The only thing that is for sure is that NBA fans will be robbed if somehow the Thunder and Lakers don’t meet in the Western Conference Finals.

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Tags: Dwight Howard James Harden Kevin Durant Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers Oklahoma City Thunder Pau Gasol Steve Nash

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