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California Love: Pacific Division Preview

Posted By Warren Shaw On Oct 27 2012 @ 11:07 am In NBA | 5 Comments

Four teams from California and the Phoenix Suns comprise the Pacific Division of the NBA.

Most see this as a battle for L.A. with the Lakers and Clippers head and shoulders above anybody else in the division. But how far are the Lakers and Clippers away from each other?

How far are they away from the Oklahoma City Thunder? We pontificate and articulate our thoughts in our final division preview.

The #NBAonPSB experts present the Pacific Division preview:

Warren Shaw Picks @Shawsports [1]

1.L.A. Lakers

59-23

2. L.A. Clippers

53-29

3. Golden State Warriors

41-41

4. Sacramento Kings

36-46

5. Phoenix Suns

33-49

The Lakers shocked the world when they somehow acquired Steve Nash from Phoenix and then used their powers of persuasion to fleece Dwight Howard away from the Magic. There starters are so intimidating that Howard has already dubbed them “The Avengers”. I suspect there will be lulls in their play to begin with but by the end of the season not many teams will even stand a Loki-like chance against them.

The Clippers are fine with their counterparts stealing the headlines in L.A. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul have a chemistry that is natural both on and off the court. What impresses me most about this team is their 2nd unit which is probably the best in the league. Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom, Ryan Hollins and Rony Turiaf give this team depth, scoring and versatility. This is a good team that hopes to become elite this season.  Hopefully Vinny Del Negro doesn’t mess it up.

Golden State has amassed a solid but fragile roster. Stephen Curry with his ankle woes and Andrew Bogut with every type of woe imaginable have cost their teams millions in treatment and rehab. Still when healthy they are talented. Bogut is an unselfish big who can score with either hand and block shots. His return is key. GSW has Curry “insurance” in the form of Jarret Jack but hopefully he won’t be needed for 30 plus minutes/night. I like their draft selection of Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson may be the next great shooter in the NBA. Look for a solid season from GSW finishing close to 500 (barring injuries).

The Kings I dare say will surprise teams this year but it all hinges on the maturity of DeMarcus Cousins. He is a walking double-double but is also a walking time bomb. Tyreke Evans is playing for a contract extension and has the dynamite scorer Marcus Thornton peeking over his shoulder. Isiah Thomas was a nice surprise at point guard last season while Jimmer Fredette has been a disappointment. Thomas Robinson may come off the bench to start the season but depending how things go could be starting alongside Cousins at season’s end. A high powered offensive attack, good coach, decent bench with an ole style of defense will have the cowbells ringing in Sacramento all season long.

The Suns attempt to adjust to life without Steve Nash by replacing him with Goran Dragic. The quick tempo will remain the same and the roster is full of guys teams gave up on. Michael Beasley leads the list followed by Luis Scola, and Wesley Johnson. I still can’t believe how disappointing Johnson has been. In any event, Beasley has been a model citizen who Coach Gentry says he wants to shoot more. Go figure. Scola should have a great year spreading the floor with his reliable jumper which will open up the paint for the ever improving Marcin Gortat. In short the Suns aren’t bad they just aren’t very good either.

Logan Williams Picks @LoganWill17 [2]

1.L.A. Lakers

60-22

2. L.A. Clippers

54-28

3. Sacramento Kings

43-39

4. Golden State Warriors

37-45

5. Phoenix Suns

30-52

The Lakers made the most noise this offseason with two main additions. Dwight Howard and Steve Nash make this team the favorite to win the West, to most, and a legitimate threat to the Heat’s reign as NBA championship. Kobe Bryant gets some much needed help with Howard replacing the immature and oft injured Andrew Bynum and Steve Nash filling a void at the point guard position that at times plagued the Lakers last year with poor play. It will take a few weeks for the new teammates to gel but once they do watch out for this team.

Next up is the Clippers and the second year with Chris Paul at the helm of the offense and another year of maturity for Blake Griffin and this team gets a few nice additions with Grant Hill, Lamar Odom, and Jamal Crawford to help create such a potent offense that they will need to take down the top teams. The return of Billups from an achilles injury in late November to early December will also provide this team with a veteran presence as a leader and an experienced playoff vet. Sacramento has a nice core of young players and this is the year I see Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins become a top-tier tandem and assert themselves as two of the best young players and rising-stars in the game.

The Warriors are heading into their second year under coach Mark Jackson and he will help lead this team to an improved, but not yet winning record. This is a young team who with good teaching and patience can impose a threat in the West for years to come, but give it a few more years.

Now for the Suns who look to be best suited to rebuild and hope to contend in a few years, they added Luis Scola but with he loss of Steve Nash and Grant Hill this team should try and make a youth movement with their young players. They were able to land Michael Beasley who is still just 23 years old and they added Kendall Marshall in the draft to pair with Markieff Morris and Shannon Brown who are both still young. The Suns are not going to be contenders in the playoffs this year and thus their younger players should all get a chance to show what they can do.

Steven Jones Picks @Stevenjo5 [3]

1.L.A. Lakers

57-36

2. L.A. Clippers

45-37

3. Phoenix Suns

33-49

4. Golden State Warriors

30-52

5. Sacramento Kings

24-58

The Lake Show will reclaim the title of Most Compelling Team, but might be built better for the playoffs than the 82-game grind. The bench is mediocre at best and Metta World Peace could combust at any time. The big guns can play heavier minutes in the postseason, though, which gives the rest of the league plenty of reason to worry.

An unresolved coaching/front office situation combined with a wait-and-see mindset from CP3 should lead to the Clips moving sideways or slightly backward. Their offseason moves look good on paper, but the pieces don’t fit well enough for the team to be more than a fringe playoff participant.

The Suns are in for a painful transition from the Seven Seconds or Less era, as Goran Dragic replaces Steve Nash and everyone else finds out what it’s like to create your own shot for a change.

Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut are out for ___ games. That’s not a typo, it’s a sentence that will come to define this Warriors season, as the number changes but the news stays the same.

The Kings have quietly become a West Coast version of the Blatche-McGee Wizards, with combustible, mismatched pieces that have no business playing together. The odds of two Sacto teammates reenacting the Arenas-Crittenton gunplay incident are too high to joke about comfortably.

Sean Eckert Picks  @chefdj409 [4]

1.L.A. Lakers

61-21

2. L.A. Clippers

55-27

3. Golden State Warriors

40-42

4. Sacramento Kings

33-49

5. Phoenix Suns

27-55

Los Angeles is the only city that matters in this division.  The Lakers have made the biggest noise in the offseason with the acquisitions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.  The fact that they were able to get this done without giving up any big names besides Andrew Bynum is surprising.  Everyone seems to think that the Lakers might be unbeatable, but let’s remember that in a similar situation in 2004, they added Karl Malone and Gary Payton and then lost not to a super team like the Heat, but to a team without a superstar, the Detroit Pistons

The Clippers will look to improve on what was one of their best season’s in franchise history.  Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will continue to be the headliners, but guys like Eric Bledsoe, Caron Butler, and Jamal Crawford will be key contributors.  Plus, there are some wildcards out there like a potentially healthy Chauncey Billups and the return of Lamar Odom to Los Angeles.

Golden State looks to complete their transition from an offensive team to a team that relies on defense to win.  Mark Jackson seemed to have his players believing in his system at the end of last season and they have added some nice pieces around Stephen Curry, including 7-footer Andrew Bogut who finished last injured last year.  The Warriors could make a playoff push in the West.

Phoenix and Sacramento are bringing up the rear, and unfortunately, that is where they will find themselves most of the year.  The Suns have to adjust to life without Nash and the Kings might get a little better, but are still a long way from where they need to be.

Cal Lee Picks @CLMECCA75 [5]

1.L.A. Lakers

60-22

2. L.A. Clippers

58-24

3. Golden State Warriors

38-44

4. Phoenix Suns

35-47

5. Sacramento Kings

34-48

We all know the talk of Tinseltown was Kobe Bryant courting Steve Nash to come to LA…no wait. I suppose the real talk was about this 6 ‘ 11″ man child who escaped the clutches of a disillusioned Magic organization , pouting and shouting all the way out to LA. Why go see Iron Man 3 when you can see The Crying Game: starring Dwight Howard. His antics put LA back on page 1 and bought him a one way ticket to Southern California and Shaq’s “Get Off My Jock” List. Not bad for a trailer. Speaking of trailing, the Lakers are stacked top to bottom and when healthy will be a problem for the division and conference. My concern isn’t as much the players as it is the coaching. Mike Brown has no excuse this season. Either they buy in or he’s ‘Cashin Out’.

The last time the Clippers had back to back winning seasons was 1974-1976 when they were called the Buffalo Braves. For a team that has only won 36% of their games in the franchise history, 2012 Clips are shouldering the disdain and disappointment of an organization considered the laughing stock of the NBA for many years.  At first glance you can say they were going to take it out on the Lakers all season long, til Superman2 decided to crash the party. But fret not cause the Clippers are still fully loaded. With Billups healthy, and a refocused Lamar “Shakin Khloe Off” Odom, this team could be deeper than the Lake Show. But can they play focused ball for 48 minutes. Here in lies the age old question. “Are they There Yet?”… No… Not Just Yet

Mama, there goes that man Mark Jackson, trying to lead boys in a grown man’s game. Last year he got all he could from a young, exuberant and often wild Warriors team amassing 23 wins in a shortened season. If Stephen Curry can stay healthy, points will come in bushels from their backcourt who can shoot the lights out. Couple that with David Lee and Andrew Bogut, are solid double-double guys and they may surprise some teams in the West on any given night.

While Phoenix doesn’t look like much this is a great landing spot for a guy like Mike Beasley aka “Heat Check”, who if he’s playing like how he’s shown in the preseason expect big things from him this year. Guys like Gortat, and Dudley are considered the vets and Coach Gentry will rely on Dragic and Brown to lead this relatively young Suns team to some promise, but this will come down to their 2011 draft pick Markeiff Morris. You saw flashes of all-star ability in him last year, but wasn’t consistent enough. Can he speak the NBA language or like a lot of 1st rounders just get Lost in Translation?

I really hate making this team the fall guy, because not since the Webber-Divac-Stojaković days have we seen a solid Kings team hit the court. But Sacramento is going to play little sister to their big brothers in the Lakers and Clippers. There is promise though with Fredette and Evans anchoring the backcourt, and DeMarcus “Big Country” Cousins bullying the paint. Visitors may be playing with house money when they come to a hostile Power Balance Pavilion (16-17 home record) who may be watching their final days of their beloved Kings play in their house.

This wraps up our division previews and we hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as we have enjoyed writing them.

You can check out all of our division previews here. [6] Next we will attempt to predict all of the award winners this season followed by our picks for the NBA Finals.

Please feel free to comment here whether you agree or disagree or by using #NBAonPSB on Twitter for any questions for our panel.

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URLs in this post:

[1] @Shawsports: https://twitter.com/ShawSports

[2] @LoganWill17: https://twitter.com/LoganWill17

[3] @Stevenjo5: https://twitter.com/stevenjo5

[4] @chefdj409: https://twitter.com/chefdj409

[5] @CLMECCA75: https://twitter.com/CLMECCA75

[6] division previews here.: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/author/wshaw/

[7] Subscribe to author's RSS feed: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/author/wshaw/feed/

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