Will Blazers be better than advertised?

For the second year in a row, the playoff picture out West is expected to be quite crowded. On paper, at least. The ESPN Forecast panel predicts the top six seeds to look like this: Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio, Houston, Memphis and Golden State. That's not all that surprising, given how last season played out and the likelihood that Denver takes a step backwards in 2013-14 with the key losses of George Karl and Andre Iguodala.

The battle for the No. 7 and 8 seeds could again be fierce, with the ESPN Forecast predicting that it will be the Nuggets and Minnesota ended up with them. Dallas, the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans all could be in the playoff picture as well, and one team that shouldn't be overlooked is Portland.