HoopsVibe Season Preview: Pacific Division
With the NBA season getting ready to start up, we thought we should take a brief glimpse at the league, division by division, just so you guys have an idea of what to expect this year. However, we will not stand by any of these predictions come season’s end. Unless we’ve actually managed to get them right.
And finally. we have the Pacific Division. My initial impression of the division was that these teams could be better than expected. Then you start doing the math, and realize that there are only so many wins to go around. Most of those wins will be had by one team.
That one team is the Lakers. Phil Jackson, blah blah blah, Kobe, blah blah blah, Andrew Bynum, yada yada, trade Lamar Odom, blah blah. It’s the same stuff you’ve been hearing since last year. The Lakers aren’t going anywhere. I have my doubts about whether things will work out as perfectly as they did last year, but it’s the Lakers’ conference to lose.
The Golden State Warriors made the wrong kind of history last year when they missed the playoffs with 46 wins. This season’s forecast is considerably less favorable for the team. While they bring back a team with as much offense as any in the league, they don’t have a proven point guard to lead it, since Monta Ellis will miss a large chunk of the season after his mo-ped issues and Baron Davis has changed jerseys. The Ws will come less often than last year, probably much less often.
The Warriors’ loss is the Clippers’ gain. Davis will run the show there, and there is plenty to run. Al Thornton and Eric Gordon represent the youth who should contribute right away. Ricky Davis, Chris Kaman, Marcus Camby and Tim Thomas will try to keep things going as veterans. Call me crazy, but I think the Clippers might have a shot at the playoffs. Maybe. Losing Elton Brand hurts, but Mike Dunleavy could have this team playing as well as it did back in 2006.
The Kings are an intriguing team. They finished last year only three games under .500 and traded away Ron Artest. I’m not convinced that this is a bad thing. I’d like to bump them up a few wins, but it would be really hard to do so in a stack Western Conference. Still, I like what Reggie Theus brings as a coach and Kevin Martin could be the best King, scoring wise anyway, since Mitch Richmond. Like Richmond, he may have to head east before he gets a shot at the playoffs.
And the Suns are definitely setting. It’s hard to knock any roster that has Shaquille O’Neal and Steve Nash anchoring the front and backcourt and Amare Stoudemire dropping 25 and 10 on the opposition, but that team was built for running, which they will be doing much less of, and depth could become an issue. And you wonder if Terry Porter is ready to handle another coach’s roster. They’re still a playoff team just based on talent alone, but they probably don’t have enough to do any real damage this year. That’s an interesting concept, since this team is clearly not built for the future.
PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH:
1. LA Lakers
3. LA Clippers
5. Golden State
What do you predict? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.