NBA Preview: Pacific Division

Posted: November 4, 2013 in N.B.A, Uncategorized
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  1. NBA Pacific Division Preview

     

    Over the past year, after some major injuries, offseason trades, and free agency signings, the Pacific Division has solidified itself as an interesting division. With a couple of legitimate contenders, and a couple more interesting teams with very exciting cores that’ll compete in the very near future, this division will be fun to watch.

    With that in mind, let’s check out projections for this coming season.

     

    1. LA Clippers – Staples Center may be home to both the Lakers and the Clippers, but there’s no confusion about who’s the team in LA. Chris Paul is coming off a dominant 17 and 10 season, Blake Griffin is one of the premiere power forwards in the league, and DeAndre Jordan continues to be a force down low on both sides of the ball. The team acquired Jared Dudley, the versatile forward and elite defender, in the offseason for Eric Bledsoe, the athletic backup guard whom had no room to play. New coach Doc Rivers will prove to be a fantastic addition, as he’ll bring championship experience and a strong track record for developing players. Jamaal Crawford, JJ Reddick and the rest of the bench provide depth and versatility that will be key in their push towards the playoffs and beyond.  RECORD: 58-24
    2. Golden State Warriors – I’d put this team in the more 1A category than the 2 in this division. Steph Curry has mounted himself into the conversation of best guard in the NBA. He amazingly continues to develop into a better and more advanced scorer and facilitator. Klay Thompson had one of the most memorable playoffs in recent memory as he’s become a premiere shooter in this league. He and Curry pair to make the most exciting young backcourt in the NBA, with only room to grow. David Lee is perennially one of the most underrated big men in the NBA, capable of putting up 20 and 10 any given night. In July, the Warriors signed one of the premier free agents available, SF Andre Iguodala to a 4 year $48M deal. Paired with Curry, Thompson, Lee, and C Andrew Bogut, the Warriors have one of the strongest starting 5 in the NBA, and expect so see them deep into the upcoming playoffs. RECORD 57-25
    3. LA Lakers – With Kobe Bryant out indefinitely while recovering from a torn Achilles suffered in last years playoffs, the Lakers will struggle to find an identity this season. With an aging roster made up of Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, and other older veterans, the Lakers are left with a team that’s on the downturn. Gasol and Nash may not have much left, plus with Kobe out, the team is left with little to work with. While the team is strong enough to maybe compete for an 8th seed to sneak into the playoffs once the mamba returns, there isn’t enough on this roster to do much else. Look for the lakers to try and dump some of those big contracts by the deadline. Gasol could prove to be a big piece in a contender’s immediate future. But he isn’t in the cards for the Lakers much longer. RECORD: 40-42
    4. Sacramento Kings – The Kings may not compete this year, but they have a very exciting core to build around for the near future. They signed Demarcus Cousins to a 4 year extension just last month. Although he has some character concerns, his talent and impact on the game are undeniable. And at just 23 years old, he’s the type of guy to build your team around. Additionally, I think SG Ben McLemore, the 1st round pick out of Kansas this year was a fantastic get. No one expected him to fall to #7 so the Kings got a steal. He’s a big athletic guard, who at 6”5 can drive and finish in traffic, but has such a pure shot that he has drawn comparisons to Ray Allen. Although its early to jump to conclusions, the Kings are no doubt on the right track. RECORD 32-50
    5. Phoenix Suns – Although the Suns will not compete for a title this year, they’ve made some smart moves to set themselves up for success in the coming years. They acquired Eric Bledsoe, the athletic young guard from the Clippers in a trade this offseason. New GM Ryan McDonough, who came over from the Celtics this past year, pegged Bledsoe as his point guard of the future. McDonough also wheeled and dealed this offseason, trading established veterans and an ability to win at a mediocre level now, for expiring contracts, draft picks, and the chance to win later. By some miracle the Suns turned Hakeem Warrick and Robin Lopez into a top-13 1st round pick from the Timberwolves, meaning Phoenix will receive the pick this year as long as Minnesota doesn’t fall to the bottom 13 of the league, in which case they’d receive it the next year that the Wolves don’t fall into the bottom 13. The Suns also traded Luis Scola to the Pacers for their unprotected 1st round pick. And lastly, they traded C Marcin Gortat to the Wizards for a top-12 protected 1st round pick. The Suns were smart to go all in for this coming draft, as it is the most heralded draft in the past decade, with stars like OSU’s Marcus Smart, and expected one-and-done’s Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, and Jabari Parker. The Suns will look terrible this year after trading nearly all of their established talent for young athletes and draft picks, but with Eric Bledsoe, 1st round pick C Alex Len, out of Maryland who’s big frame and physical style of play will translate well to the NBA, and all those draft picks, the Suns are built for sustained success. Just wait 2 or 3 years before buying your playoff tickets.  RECORD: 17-65
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