How will the NBA’s Pacific Division shape up this year? Check out our latest divisional preview.
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The Pacific Division is basically like any other Division. From around 1999-2000 it has always had a powerhouse team (Kings, Lakers, Suns), but with the resurgence of the Clippers and Warriors, those teams have now flip flopped.
USSDU takes a look at each team and how they shape up for the 2013/14 NBA season.
The LA Clippers solidified their position as the top team in both Los Angeles and the Pacific Division, as they re-signed Chris Paul to a five year $107 million deal this offseason.
Caron Butler and Eric Bledsoe were traded to the Phoenix Suns in a three team deal, as the Clips added Jared Dudley and newly inked JJ Redick. Both new additions have three point percentages close to 40 percent for their careers, so space will finally be opened up for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan inside.
Darren Collison, Byron Mullens and Antawn Jamison are three solid offensive minded players in the second unit, and they’ll combine with Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes in allowing new coach Doc Rivers a range of teams he can throw on the floor.
X-Factor: Variety is the spice of life. This Clippers team is like a swiss army knife with so many tools. They can throw out big, small, three point or defensive line-ups, and they match up well with any team in the league which will serve them well in the playoffs.
Predicted Finish: 57-25
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are putting all their eggs in one basket this season, acquiring the perfect defensive ball handling swingman for their frenetic offense, Andre Iguodala.
The addition means Harrison Barnes likely moves to the bench, where he will automatically move into Sixth Man of the Year contention because with his skill-set he’ll still feature heavily in Mark Jackson’s rotation, possibly playing some small-ball power forward.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson form a top three NBA back-court, as they combined to make a ridiculous 483 threes last season — that’s more than FIVE TEAMS made collectively!
Much relies on the health of their front-court, David Lee and Andrew Bogut, as they haven’t exactly played many games together since Bogut arrived in the Monta Ellis trade in 2012.
I fear the bench may be the downfall, as Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry have both moved on after being arguably the best 1-2 reserve combination last year.
X-Factor: That outside shooting is lethal. It’s en masse and accurate, and you can pick your poison between Thompson or Curry, and even to a lesser extent Barnes and newly acquired Toney Douglas.
Predicted Finish: 48-34
Not many things went right for the Lakers last season.
After dodging an injury bullet by dealing away Andrew Bynum, they regressed in winning percentage and playoff success, despite adding Dwight Howard for 2012-13.
Howard bolted after realising that the Lakers will always be Kobe Bryant’s team as long as he’s in town, and to be honest both sides are probably better off for it.
Pau Gasol will again be the main man in the low post, and Mike D’Antoni will need to rely on his old dog Steve Nash to direct traffic until Kobe is back from his Achilles injury.
The new faces in town — Wes Johnson, Chris Kaman, Nick Young, Jordan Farmar — are all decent rotation players, but some will be called on to start, which is something none of them can really brag about having any real success with recently.
X-Factor: Pau Gasol is the most successful power forward to play with Kobe Bryant. Their inside/outside game meshes well and if Pau is healthy — all indications say he is after sitting out Eurobasket 2013 — then he will thrive once again.
Predicted Finish: 46-36
Following any offseason of the Sacramento Kings is like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube with a blindfold on.
They already had three capable power forward options in Jason Thompson, Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson, and another with DeMarcus Cousins being played at center.
So what do they do? They sign Carl Landry — another ‘decent’ but not that good power forward — and certainly not one who will claim the starting spot on talent alone.
They acquired Greivis Vasquez in the Tyreke Evans sign and trade with the Pelicans, and he’ll probably supplant Isiah Thomas as starting point guard, with Thomas better suited to coming off the bench.
Ben McLemore fell into their laps at the number seven pick in the draft, a player with All Star-level potential, but he’ll likely backup Marcus Thornton initially.
The Kings haven’t seemed to have a good small forward since Peja Stojakovic left town, and that hasn’t changed this year either.
X-Factor: Cousins is one of the biggest talents in the game – both physically and on a skill level. He has struggled with immaturity and clashing with coaches, but new coach Mike Malone will want to implement a team first mentality across the roster, which Cousins will have to adopt.
Predicted Finish: 31-51
It’s tough being a Suns fan.
The history of the franchise overall, is very successful. They have the fourth highest winning percentage in NBA history, but unfortunately they also have the longest championship-less tenure in NBA history at 45 seasons, and counting.
Adding Eric Bledsoe and Gerald Green will ease some of the yawns from the last season (check out last season’s top-10 Suns plays…actually don’t, it’s like a WNBA layup drill), and new General Manager Ryan McDonough seems hell bent on building a team from the bottom up and not overpaying for players that don’t fit.
Marcin Gortat returns as the starting center, for now, but he’s probably the first domino to fall in terms of good players on the trading block considering they drafted Alex Len in the lottery this year.
Goran Dragic will start at the other guard spot next to Bledsoe, likely playing more off-ball which should cut his turnovers down and increase his scoring slightly.
The probable starting line-up really is a patch job, with players like Markieff Morris and PJ Tucker far better suited to bench roles than playing 30-35 minutes per night.
It’s going to be a long season for Suns fans, but hopefully the silver lining is a top three draft pick in 2014’s talent rich pool.
X-Factor: Eric Bledsoe might be pound for pound the best athlete in the NBA. He’s a real physical specimen, and as an on-ball defender he has few peers. How he handles consistent starter minutes will dictate which path the Suns choose for their future back-court in terms of he and Dragic co-existing.
Predicted finish: 21-61