Ben Golliver of SI.com identifies five players on Western Conference contenders who'll be "X-factors" for their teams, meaning their performance this season will go a long way in determining whether their teams will be playing in June. Three of the X-factors are offseason acquisitions: Dwight Howard of the Lakers, Andre Iguodala of the Nuggets and Lamar Odom of the Clippers. A fourth, the Thunder's James Harden, is entering the final season of his contract, while the Spurs have their X-factor, Kawhi Leonard, locked up until 2015 and already talking about staying with the team for a lot longer than that. There's more on others from around the West tonight, and we've got it rounded up here.
- While some Kings teammates say Jimmer Fredette has been the best player in camp, the team has other options at guard that could keep Fredette out of the rotation, as Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com notes. Still, Howard-Cooper makes the case that the Kings still need the 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft to play up to his potential.
- Luke Babbitt and Nolan Smith still have multiple seasons left on their rookie-scale contracts, but if the Blazers don't think they'll develop, Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW.com thinks they could trade one or both of them for draft picks and cap space. Such moves could also allow the team to keep Coby Karl and Adam Morrison, both of whom have impressed Jaynes.
- Blazer's Edge checks in with two-pronged preview of the Blazers, as Tom Ziller looks at what's ahead while Mike Prada gives the team a C for its work this past offseason.
- Chris Douglas-Roberts, in camp with the Lakers on a non-guaranteed deal, talks about his teammates, the challenge of making the regular season roster, and what went wrong during his first stint in the NBA as part of a Q&A with Mike Trudell of Lakers.com.
- Free agent signee Jamal Crawford is showing off his ability to score in crunch time for the Clippers, as Eric Patten of Clippers.com observes.