The Pacific Division will definitely be one of the more interesting divisions to watch this upcoming season. There are many storylines to follow, including: When will Kobe come back? Will he be the same? What does Andre Iguodala do for the Warriors? How bad will the Suns be? How many guards will the Kings have at the end of the season? How will Doc Rivers impact the Clippers’ postseason success, if at all? These are all important questions to ask. The Pacific Division will provide much excitement, especially as the postseason comes around.
Los Angeles Clippers (Last Season 56-26):
The Los Angeles Clippers have almost always been second to the Lakers, but last year might have been the start of a new trend. As the Lakers were mired in controversy and turmoil, the Clippers, led by Chris Paul, took Los Angeles by force with the installation of the moniker, “Lob City.” This off-season, the team decided not to resign Vinny Del Negro, and instead went out to “acquire” Doc Rivers for one first round pick. They also acquired J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley, giving Paul a plethora of option on the offensive end. The acquisition of Doc Rivers might be the most important, as he will bring an authoritative figure to the locker room, and will likely get the most out of Griffin and Paul. The biggest concern will come on the defensive end. The lack of depth at power forward and center positions will make it difficult to compete with teams that feature height, a la the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies.
Additions: SF Jared Dudley, SG J.J. Redick, PG Daren Collison, PF/C Byron Mullens, Head CoachDoc Rivers
Subtractions: PG Eric Bledsoe, SF Caron Butler, PG Chauncey Billups
Biggest Question: Can Deandre Jordan and Blake Griffin improve their free throw shooting so they are not liabilities at the end of games?
Season Prediction: 1st seed out of 8 seeds in the Western Conference
Golden State Warriors (Last Season: 47-35)
The Golden State Warriors were a fan favorite of many, due to their exciting style of play and the energy, especially when playing at home. The key off-season move for the Warriors was the signing of Andre Iguodala. Iguodala gives them a legitimate wing scorer and defender, as well as a veteran presence on a still very young team. Combined with the hot shooting of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and big man Andrew Bogut, the only thing that will keep the Warriors from making deep run is the health of Bogut. Bogut was instrumental during last season’s playoff run. However, he did not play much until the backend of the season, so one can only wonder how his body will hold up throughout the season. The additional year of experience will prove huge for this team, and they are primed for another potentially deep run.
Additions: SF Andre Iguodala, PF Jermaine O’Neal
Subtractions: PG Jarett Jack, PF Carl Landry, SF Richard Jefferson
Biggest Question: How will this young team handle the success they had last season?
Season Prediction: 4th seed out of 8 seeds in the Western Conference
Los Angeles Lakers (Last Season: 45-37)
Oh the Los Angeles Lakers… Last season, the acquisitions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, combined with Kobe and Pau Gasol, had many penciling them in for a finals appearance. However, whatever that could go wrong for the Lakers did go wrong. First Gasol went down with injury, then Nash. Even the ever-bionic Kobe Bryant eventually succumbed to mortality. In addition, Dwight Howard played most, if not all of the season, with a torn labrum. This season, the team will send out a starting lineup of Nash, Steve Blake, Shawne Williams, Nick Young, and Gasol (yes, you read that correctly). An interesting lineup, to say the least, and it foreshadows a season of struggle and mediocrity. If Kobe plays, he will not allow the team to sink too low and will carry them for the large part of the season. Either that or Nick Young does… but please no.
Additions: C Chris Kaman, SG/SF Nick Young, SF Wesley Johnson, PGJordan Farmar
Subtractions: C Dwight Howard, PF Antawn Jamison, PF Earl Clark, PG Chris Duhon, PG Andrew Goudelock, SF Metta World Peace
Biggest Question: Will Kobe be back this season? When will he be back? What will he be like when he comes back?
Season Prediction: 9th in the Western Conference
Sacramento Kings (Last Season: 28-54)
The highlight of the Kings’ off-season had nothing to do with basketball: the toxic Maloof Brothers sold their majority interest to Vivek Randive, who plans to keep the team in Sacramento and not relocate them to Seattle. The Kings don’t have a clear-cut strategy to get back into contention. They are bad, but not bad enough to secure a high lottery pick. Their biggest on the court acquisition was seventh overall pick Ben McLemore. The roster for the Kings is also quite confusing, as it seems they have an excess of guards: Jimmer Fredette, Isiah Thomas, Greivis Vasquez, McLemore, and Ray McCallum. The Kings’ new management group needs to make a decisive plan for the franchise and then build from there. Until then, they will be just bad, but not terrible.
Additions: Majority Owner Vivek Randive, SG Ben McLemore, PF Carl Landry
Subtractions: SF Tyreke Evans, PG Toney Douglas
Biggest Question: Can Demarcus Cousins continue to mature and develop into a franchise player?
Season Prediction: 10th in the Western Conference
Phoenix Suns (Last Season: 25-57)
The Suns are in full-blown tank mode and will “challenge” the Philadelphia 76ers for the title of the worst team in the NBA. They are well on their way to a high draft pick. Through various trades, they have to the potential to have four first-round picks in a draft that features some of the best prospects in recent memory. On the court, however, new Head Coach Jeff Hornacek will have a difficult job coaxing as many wins out of this young group without hurting their chances at the No. 1 overall pick.
Additions: PG Eric Bledsoe, SF Gerald Green, PF Alex Len, PG Archie Goodwin, picks, picks, and more picks.
Subtractions: C Marcin Gortat, SF Jared Dudley, PF Luis Scola, PF Jermaine O’Neal, SF Michael Beasley, SF Wesley Johnson
Biggest Question Mark: Is there a fast forward button to the NBA Draft?
Season Prediction: 15th in the Western Conference
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