NBA Preview: Pacific Division

If you’re reading this, chances are that you know basketball season is almost upon us.  The scenery has changed and so have the rosters, let’s take a closer look at how some of the off-season transactions have changed the shape and direction of NBA teams everywhere.  HMJ’s headquarters is located in Los Angeles, so I thought it would only be fitting if I began with the Pacific division.

Lakers – Last year was a bust for the Lake show as they failed to produce wins or even make it out of the first round with a more than stellar roster.  A combination of an overall lack of motivation, and an intergalactic gravitational force known as Kobe Bryant ultimately led to their downfall.  This year, Steve Nash is still in the mix so they’ve got a chance to flourish as a team, however given that there is only one ball in this game, and the Lakers still have Kobe…  He’ll surely use his powers as a black hole to try and make sure that he takes a disproportional amount of shots.  I don’t see this team making the playoffs, but crazier things have happened.

Clippers – With new coach Doc Rivers at the helm, all the familiar faces are back (except Grant Hill and Eric Bledsoe), but they’ve added Jared Dudley, Darren Collison, and Antwan Jamison for a run at a ring before Chris Paul can contemplate moving on.  Look for them to assert themselves as an elite team in the West because of their basketball savvy and athleticism.  Be wary however, as they will likely struggle to put up three pointers with any accuracy.  Also, if Doc’s previous team is any indication of his work and dedication to the defensive side of the ball, this Clippers team will lock down their opponents with top notch defense (which seemed to be their missing piece of the puzzle last year in the playoffs).  They’ll dominate games and make it to at least the West finals.

Suns – Of all of the moves that the Suns made this off-season, by far the best one was severing all ties with Michael Beasley.  Now that they’ve trimmed the fat (and coincidentally one of my favorite players), they can move onto rebuilding for the future.  Newbies, Shannon Brown and Eric Bledsoe will man one of the most athletic and skill competent point guard duos of all time, and the Morris brothers have been reunited once again (which should prove to be quite entertaining).  While rookie head coach Jeff Hornaceck must prove his worth with a mediocre team (at best), which is unfortunate for him because NBA head coach is not a very forgiving job.  This team will take loads of double-digit beatings on their way to a losing record.

Warriors – Last year was a breakout year for Stephen Curry and his Warriors.  This off-season they’ve added some firepower to their already lethal arsenal.  Aside from uniting Stephen with his brother Seth, they added seasoned veteran all-star, Andre Iguodala.  With Mark Jackson on the sideline, Steph Curry reminding fans of Reggie Miller with his shooting touch, and the Warriors young, skilled, athletic, and cohesive core…  Expect them to be a top-tier NBA team, a true force to be reckoned with.  They aren’t made for the playoffs, but they should make it past the first round.

Kings – These days it’s hard to come by a franchise involved in as much drama as the Sacramento Kings.  Any one of these days they might relocate, but today they’re staying put.  They seem like a jigsaw puzzle that you purchase for half off because the box has been opened and tampered with.  You think you’ve just gotten a steal, but when you open it you realize that it has 11 corner pieces and is full of hot dog buns, Viking helmets, broken playstation remotes, and other miscellaneous items that aren’t jigsaw pieces.  Last year was an abomination for the Kings, and this year smells like a logjam and potential chemistry problems.  They’ve added Luc Mbah A Mute, Travis Outlaw, Grevis Vasquez, and others that won’t make a significant impact unless something goes catastrophically wrong for a team that is already a train wreck.  Look for them to struggle to win any games, look for players to be frustrated with playing time (or lack thereof), with losing, and a general lack of extraordinary talent that is pivotal in today’s NBA.  God save the Kings.

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Author: Ian Sallee

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