Among the teams expected to be leaders in the West are both revamped L.A. rosters, the Houston Rockets, and the Golden State Warriors. The list does not include the Sacramento Kings, who (by all accounts) still have much to improve on before being on that level.
At least, that's what most people think. If you ask team minority owner Shaquille O'Neal, he'll tell you that the Kings are actually in the same air as both the Clippers and the Lakers.
With Marvin Begley III, De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and others, the Kings certainly have a bright future ahead of them. Last season, they were firmly in the playoff race to the very end and earned some impressive wins in the process.
But to say they are better than the two Championship favorites this season might be jumping the gun. It will take time for Sacramento to develop their young guys and fuse their roster together. Shaq likely knows his Kings have no real shot -- but credit must be given for his admirable display of loyalty and support for his guys.
It will be interesting, though, to see just how well that in the 2019-20 campaign.