The season is only a few days away, catch up with a preview of the Pacific Division.
Golden State Warriors
Is there really anything to say? The West has gotten better with a couple more teams looking like real contenders, however just about anyone would say that barring any extreme case, the Warriors should come out on top in the West.
The Warriors saw the departure of Ian Clark and the addition of Nick Young over the summer. Young can be an effective addition off the bench, as he can easily fit in the shooting barrage style of play. The Warriors drafted Jordan Bell over the summer. Bell showed great hustle at both ends of the court through the preseason and remarkably may be able to bring a new dimension to this team.
The core Curry, Thompson, Green and Durant should all be back better than ever, while guys like JaVale McGee, Zaza, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala will be there to provide the grit and support.
The Warriors have one goal in mind this season but might have a bit more competition along the way to the finals than they did last year.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers parted ways with Chris Paul but recovered by adding the relentless Patrick Beverley at the point. They also parted ways with Luc Mbah a Moute but recovered from that by adding Danilo Gallinari. J.J. Redick moved on as well but new additions Milos Teodosic, a great passing PG from Europe, and Lou Williams,the ultimate sixth man, should be able to more than pick up the slack.
The Clippers starting five will look something like: Beverley, Austin Rivers/Teodosic, Gallinari, Griffin and Jordan. Remarkably, after losing point-god Chris Paul, the Clippers may have actually improved. They also got some depth in the Paul trade, with Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell.
Wesley Johnson is still with the team and really could be the x-factor for them this season. Johnson is versatile on the wing and has a good three-point shot.
The Clippers managed a drastic change very well, but may find themselves once again in that familiar 5th -7th place in the West.
The Kings began a major overhaul midway through last season when they let go of DeMarcus Cousins in favor of building around then rookie, Buddy Hield.
The Kings went to work in the summer picking up veterans George Hill, Zach Randolph and Vince Carter. They also got some gems in the draft, including De’Aaron Fox, Frank Mason and Justin Jackson. These ballers will join the young core of Garret Temple, Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis.
With this new arsenal, the Kings are all of a sudden a fast-paced team led by elite PGs George Hill and De’Aaron Fox, with good scoring options like Buddy, Garret Temple and Justin Jackson, as well as capable big men, Z-Bo, WCS, Papagiannis, Skal and Kosta Koufos.
The Kings are deep, with a lot of young talent and few wily vets. It will be very hard for them to navigate into the top third of the conference, but at this point they can certainly hope to battle for a playoff spot.
Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers second overall pick Lonzo Ball has been painted as the magical savior to lead the way for LA. He certainly has tons of potential, the question is how long will it take.
Nonetheless, the Lakers did a good job this summer by adding Brook Lopez, Andrew Bogut and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Lopez and Bogut provide excellent experience and presence down low, while Caldwell-Pope gives a good scoring option.
The returning core of Julius Randle, Ivica Zubac, Brandon Ingram and Jordan Clarkson all have another opportunity to prove themselves by taking their game to the next level.
To many people’s surprise, rookies Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso have shown amazing flashes during summer league and preseason and could be great contributors going forward.
The Lakers will need a miracle to make the playoffs.
The Suns got one of the gems of the draft when they selected Josh Jackson fourth overall. Jackson is a confident scoring wing, who also plays hard on defense. He will join young sensation Devin Booker, as well as the core of Marquese Chriss, Brandon Knight, T.J. Warren, Dragan Bender, Eric Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler and Alex Len.
The Suns shutdown Eric Bledsoe early last season but he should be ready to return in full force to lead this team as far as they can go. He was bordering on triple-double numbers a few times last season, and could start out hot again.
T.J. Warren is coming off a bit of a breakout season and is another guy that will need to bring his A-game in order to help this young group stay afloat.
The Suns are young and definitely have something in the works, but this season should be focused on building an identity and continuity in the organization.
The playoffs are a long shot.