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What to make of Western Conf.?

A week after the now-infamous Matt Barnes-Serge Ibaka scuffle and aftermath, the Oklahoma City Thunder exacted revenge against the Los Angeles Clippers. Thanks to Kevin Durant's 28 points and Ibaka's 17 (on 8-of-10 shooting), OKC beat the Chris Paul-led Clippers 105-91. This leaves the Clippers (8-5) closer to the ninth spot in the Western Conference than the first, while keeping the Thunder (8-3) in third, two games back of the soaring San Antonio Spurs. In second? The surprising Portland Trail Blazers (10-2). What do we make of the early developments out West?

What do you make of the Clippers being only 8-5 through 13 games?

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  • How many playoff series will the Clippers win this postseason?

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  • How far will the Thunder go this season?

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  • Will Kevin Durant win the MVP award this season?

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  • Where will Chris Paul land among the best point guards ever when he retires?

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  • How will the Blazers fare this season?

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  • Which Western Conference team outside playoff position is most likely to qualify?

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  • Which team currently in playoff position is most likely to miss?

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  • Which team will win the Western Conference?

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Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images

Will Clippers win post-'Lob City'?

"Lob City" is dead. Long live ... "Doc City"? Whatever you call it, it the Los Angeles Clippers need a new nickname, as Blake Griffin said new coach Doc Rivers is putting an end to the beloved (and short-lived) moniker. Not that Clips fans will be too distressed; with a championship-winning coach replacing Vinny Del Negro -- and a shored-up bench offering a new dynamic to a team that won 56 games a season ago but exited in the first round of the playoffs -- things are looking brighter than ever on the "other" side of Staples Center.

  • Blake Griffin says Lob City "doesn't exist anymore" under Doc Rivers. How much will the new coach change the Clippers' offense?

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  • If they make the playoffs, how will the Clippers fare in 2013-14?

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  • Where will the Clippers finish in the Western Conference regular-season standings?

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  • The Clippers went 4-0 versus the Lakers in 2012-13. Will they sweep the Lakers this season?

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  • Which is the NBA's best backcourt-frontcourt combo?

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  • Will the Clippers win a championship with a core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and coach Doc Rivers?

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The Houston Rockets won the Dwight Howard rally this offseason. Now, according to Bradford Doolittle's WARP-based calculations, the James Harden-led team also wins the title of best backcourt in the NBA. These rankings aren't without controversy, though; the Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson Golden State Warriors didn't crack the top 10. Do you agree with the analytics? Click on the images below to set your rankings!

Best NBA backcourts

Clippers

Clippers

Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford

Heat

Heat

Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen

Lakers

Lakers

Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Jodie Meeks

Mavericks

Mavericks

Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Devin Harris

Nets

Nets

Deron Williams, Jason Terry, Joe Johnson

Nuggets

Nuggets

Ty Lawson, Nate Robinson, Evan Fournier

Pacers

Pacers

Paul George, George Hill, C.J. Watson

Rockets

Rockets

James Harden, Patrick Beverly, Jeremy Lin

Spurs

Spurs

Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green

Thunder

Thunder

Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Reggie Jackson

Timberwolves

Timberwolves

Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Jose Juan Barea

Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Mo Williams

Warriors

Warriors

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Toney Douglas

Wizards

Wizards

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Glen Rice Jr.

Your Rankings

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LeBron James has won four of the past five NBA Most Valuable Player awards -- Kevin Durant has placed second in three of those four years. Will this be the season Durant finally takes the crown as the league's best player, or is LeBron the favorite to become just the fourth player in NBA history to win three consecutive MVP awards? Where does the reigning scoring champion Carmelo Anthony fit in? Is young Kyrie Irving on your radar?

The NBA ESPN Forecast panel had their say, and now it's time for SportsNation to weigh in. Set your rankings below, then head to Twitter to join the discussion via #ESPNForecast.

NBA MVP candidates

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony

Knicks, F
2012-13: 28.7 PPG, 2.6 APG, 6.9 RPG

Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry

Warriors, G
2012-13: 22.9 PPG, 6.9 APG, 4.0 RPG

Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan

Spurs, F
2012-13: 17.8 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.7 BPG

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Thunder, F
2012-13: 28.1 PPG, 4.6 APG, 7.9 RPG

Paul George

Paul George

Pacers, F
2012-13: 17.4 PPG, 4.1 APG, 7.6 RPG

James Harden

James Harden

Rockets, G
2012-13: 25.9 PPG, 5.8 APG, 4.9 RPG

Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard

Rockets, C
2012-13: 17.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 2.4 BPG

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving

Cavaliers, G
2012-13: 22.5 PPG, 5.9 APG, 3.7 RPG

LeBron James

LeBron James

Heat, F
2012-13: 26.8 PPG, 7.3 APG, 8.0 RPG

Tony Parker

Tony Parker

Spurs, G
2012-13: 20.3 PPG, 7.6 APG, 3.0 RPG

Chris Paul

Chris Paul

Clippers, G
2012-13: 16.9 PPG, 9.7 APG, 3.7 RPG

Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose

Bulls, G
2011-12: 21.8 PPG, 7.9 APG, 3.4 RPG

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Clippers' hopes rest on ... Griffin?

The Clippers traded for Chris Paul in December of 2011 with hopes that he and Blake Griffin will help the team become championship contenders. They took one step closer to their ultimate goal with playoff runs in the past two seasons, but have failed to make it past the second round. Paul now believes the key to the franchise's title hopes lies with Griffin, as the team "definitely goes as Blake goes." Will the Clippers ever win a NBA championship with Paul and Griffin as their main players?

  • Chris Paul said that Blake Griffin is the key to the Clippers' future. Will the Clippers ever win a championship with a core of Paul and Griffin?

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  • Who is the best point guard in the NBA?

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  • Where does Blake Griffin rank among the NBA's best power forwards?

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  • Which team will win the Western Conference this season?

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