Scouts Takes: Favorite to win the West

December, 6, 2013
12/06/13
4:23
PM ET

Western Conference scout on trying to pinpoint a favorite in the West:


"All the top teams in the West are flawed. Everybody has something wrong with them. But I'm still going with Oklahoma City. I've said it before and I'll say it again: No one has two guys who can close games out like their two guys.

"And they're at a point where they like doing it ... where they thrive on it. Whatever you want to talk about when it comes to the playoffs last year, just make sure you keep in the back of your mind that [Kevin] Durant was on his own because [Russell] Westbrook wasn't there. And he's that good. He made a lot of teams' seasons by not playing.

"I'm not there every day in practice. I'm sure there are people who know a lot more than me. But from what I've seen, Westbrook looks good. He's recovered well [from knee surgery].

"And I seem to be in the minority, but I really like Reggie Jackson. Maybe he's not well known, but if he's not, he will be, because he's really improved. He's a threat. He's not a closer, but he's a very confident player. He's not a classic point guard, he's not a classic distributor, but the playoff experience made him better, and he's not afraid to battle with anybody. Maybe it's not quite a Chris Paul/Eric Bledsoe situation, but there's a lot of teams that would like to have him. Especially when you remember where he was picked in the draft (No. 24 overall).

"Jeremy Lamb is quietly making strides, too. I don't know what the ceiling is, but he's inching along. And the wild card is Steven Adams. They could have eight or nine legit guys by the time we get to the playoffs."

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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