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Forecast: 2016-17 West standings

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Barkley: Durant doesn't improve Warriors in all areas (1:46)

Charles Barkley says that while the Warriors are a better offensive team with Kevin Durant, Golden State still has the same weaknesses as last season. Despite this, Barkley believes the Warriors are the favorites to win next season. (1:46)

On Monday, we kicked off our ninth annual Summer Forecast by sizing up the Eastern Conference in 2016-17.

On Tuesday, we revealed our projected Western Conference standings.

Over the next couple of weeks, we'll also share our early predictions for rookie of the year, MVP, best newcomers, NBA champion and much more.

For our results, we surveyed our ESPN Forecast panel on each topic.

On to the West ...

Western Conference projections


1. Golden State Warriors
Projected record: 67-15
Last season: 73-9

The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to finish a season with the league's best record and then add a former MVP still under the age of 30 in the following offseason. Despite the addition of Kevin Durant, our forecast projects the record-breaking Warriors will come back down to earth -- slightly -- to the tune of 67 wins. The folks in Las Vegas have placed Golden State's over/under win total at 68.5. You can also get +500 odds for the Dubs to win 74 or more games.


2. San Antonio Spurs
Proj. record: 57-25
Last season: 67-15

For the first time since 1996-97, the Spurs will open a season without Tim Duncan, who retired this summer after 19 seasons. While losing Duncan is certainly the headliner, San Antonio's frontcourt must also replace the production of David West, Boris Diaw and fan favorite Boban Marjanovic. The main addition is Pau Gasol, who made the All-Star team in each of the past two seasons and is one of three players to average at least 15 points and 10 rebounds per game in each of the past two seasons. The others? Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.


3. Los Angeles Clippers
Proj. record: 52-30
Last season: 53-29

Our panel sees a similar regular season for the Clippers, whose promising postseason ended with injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. It's mostly the same roster, with Doc Rivers re-signing Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Wesley Johnson, while adding Raymond Felton, Brandon Bass and Marreese Speights. This could be the group's last run together, as both Paul and Griffin can become unrestricted free agents after this season.


4. Portland Trail Blazers
Proj. record: 46-36
Last season: 44-38

As last season's surprise, our panel sees further progress for a Portland team that spent serious dough this summer to keep its roster intact. The Blazers spent just north of $290 million dollars this offseason on new deals for C.J. McCollum, Allen Crabbe, Meyers Leonard and Evan Turner. And with Damian Lillard's five-year, $139.9 million contract kicking in this season, Portland is going all-in to return to contention in the West.


5. Utah Jazz
Proj. record: 45-37
Last season: 40-42

With veterans George Hill, Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw joining a young and promising nucleus led by Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert, our forecast has Utah leaping from the lottery to the No. 5 seed. In addition to the stable of veteran support, Dante Exum -- the No. 5 overall pick in 2014 -- is set to return after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. A methodical squad, the Jazz ranked third in defensive efficiency after the All-Star break, while playing at the league's slowest pace.


6. Oklahoma City Thunder
Proj. record: 44-38
Last season: 55-27

Despite OKC's losing Kevin Durant and trading away Serge Ibaka for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and Domantas Sabonis, our panel still likes the Thunder's chances of making the playoffs. Over the past two seasons, Russell Westbrook played 48 games without Durant; he averaged 30.5 points, 9.2 assists and 7.6 rebounds, and he registered 11 triple-doubles. Oklahoma City went 25-23 in those 48 games, which would equate to 43 wins, just barely south of where our forecast places the Thunder in 2016-17.


7. Memphis Grizzlies
Proj. record: 43-39
Last season: 42-40

A total of 28 players saw action for the Grizzlies last season, an NBA single-season record, so why does our panel project an improvement of only one win, despite the Grizzlies adding Chandler Parsons and re-signing Mike Conley? Age and health are factors. Zach Randolph turned 35 in July and saw declines in scoring and rebounding last season. And Marc Gasol, who will be 32 by season's end, is recovering from a broken foot and has missed 20 or more games in two of the past three seasons.


8. Houston Rockets
Proj. record: 41-41
Last season: 41-41

We know a bit about how Houston will play. The already 3-oriented offense should get a boost with new coach Mike D'Antoni arriving in town and the additions of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, who both averaged 15 points and two 3-pointers per game last season in New Orleans. But the departure of Dwight Howard cost Houston a strong interior presence on defense. Our panel expects the Rockets to hover around .500 once again.


9. Dallas Mavericks
Proj. record: 40-42
Last season: 42-40

The Mavericks added Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut and a player named Curry (Steph's brother, Seth) this offseason, but don't expect this team to become the Dallas Warriors. Our panel projects the Mavericks to see a decrease in wins this season. Age is a big issue here: Dirk Nowitzki is 38; Deron Williams is 32; Wesley Matthews will be 30 in October; and Bogut will be 32 in November.


10. Minnesota Timberwolves
Proj. record: 39-43
Last season: 29-53

One of the biggest projected win increases next season belongs to the Timberwolves, and it's not hard to see why. Look at the young talent new coach Tom Thibodeau has on hand. Karl-Anthony Towns averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per game in his rookie season; the last five rookies to do that before him were Blake Griffin, Elton Brand, Tim Duncan, Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O'Neal. The 2014 No. 1 overall pick, Andrew Wiggins, averaged 20 points per game last season. Kris Dunn, whom the Wolves took fifth overall in June's draft, looks like the next young star in line.


11. New Orleans Pelicans
Proj. record: 35-47
Last season: 30-52

After winning 45 games and making the playoffs in 2014-15, the Pelicans fell well below expectations with a 30-win effort last season. Anthony Davis missed 21 games and posted the worst shooting percentage of his career as the Pelicans finished 12th in the West. Our panel is expecting a rebound of sorts for New Orleans this season, but until Davis proves he can play a full season (he has missed at least 14 games every year), the Pelicans' ceiling might go only so high.


12. Denver Nuggets
Proj. record: 34-48
Last season: 33-49

The Nuggets' youth movement continued this offseason, as the franchise had three first-round picks. Jamal Murray (19 years old), Malik Beasley (19) and Juan Hernangomez (20) will join the likes of Emmanuel Mudiay (20), Nikola Jokic (21) and Jusuf Nurkic (21). Our panel doesn't project the Nuggets' showing much immediate improvement, but it depends on how quickly the young pieces come together.


13. Sacramento Kings
Proj. record: 30-52
Last season: 33-49

Last season, the Kings won their most games (33) since the 2007-08 season, but our projections have the team regressing once again. DeMarcus Cousins set a career high in scoring last season with 26.9 points per game, but the disgruntled superstar was once again unhappy with the Kings' draft after the team took Greek big man Georgios Papagiannis (via trade) and drafted another Kentucky big in Skal Labissiere.


14. Phoenix Suns
Proj. record: 26-56
Last season: 23-59

The Suns walked away from the 2016 NBA draft with two of the top eight picks in power forwards Dragan Bender (fourth overall) and Marquese Chriss (eighth overall). Throw in the 13th overall pick from 2015 in Devin Booker and the Suns have a trio of players who will be no older than 20 by season's end. The youthful talent is intriguing, and our panel expects improvement from Phoenix, but it also knows that inexperience doesn't lead to wins in the NBA.


15. Los Angeles Lakers
Proj. record: 25-57
Last season: 17-65

The 2016-17 season will be the first since 1995-96 without Kobe Bryant in a Lakers uniform. Kobe's retirement might not help ticket sales, but it will give D'Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram a chance to shine in L.A.'s spotlight. That should allow the Lakers a chance to improve on a franchise-worst 17 wins last season.

*Notes from John McTigue of ESPN Stats & Information.