Lakers last in West pecking order

Could Los Angeles Clippers Blake Griffin and Chris Paul emerge as MVP sleeper picks? Juan Ocampo/NBAE/Getty Images

Eastern Conference | Western Conference

Today we finish off my NBAPET forecast for the coming season with the Western Conference.

As I wrote yesterday -- where I explained how the projections below are created -- this exercise is actually the punctuation mark for my summer position rankings. That is, I've taken the methodology introduced in that series, and pulled it together in a model to estimate team performance. We did the Eastern Conference yesterday.

1. Los Angeles Clippers (Wins: 61.2)

If LeBron James doesn't turn out to be the clear-cut MVP front-runner, Chris Paul could emerge to fill the void that may have opened because of Kevin Durant's bad foot. And if it's not him, it could be Blake Griffin, who is still young enough to see some growth in his game.

The big difference on the Clips is new backup center Spencer Hawes, who not only fills the biggest hole on the L.A. roster, he adds some much-needed floor spacing. Hawes serves as a tipping point for a talented roster that has been on the verge of moving from really good to great.