2018/19 NBA Team Analysis – Western Conference’s Pacific Division
Published on October 10, 2018
There might be six divisions scattered across the two conferences in the NBA, but I can promise you this.
No division will be watched, talked about, and scrutinized more than the Pacific Division out West.
Having the Golden State Warriors leading the way was already enough “front page material,” but LeBron James signing with the Los Angeles Lakers takes the cake.
The microscope will be shining down on Magic Johnson’s team all season, and it likely won’t be long until the questions start coming.
Is Luke Walton the right man for this job? Does ’Bron have enough help with the current supporting cast that the Lakers are equipped with?
Only time will tell for these questions to be answered, but something tells me you will be one of the many NBA fans glued to the action all year long, making sure you’re among the first to find out!
I want to break down each team in the Pacific Division separately. That way, I leave no stones unturned when examining how this thing plays out.
It’s only fair that we start with the two-time defending NBA champs.
Here we have the unequivocal defending NBA champs, and ready to hear what they did over the offseason?
They got rid of JaVale McGee and Zaza Pachulia and brought in Boogie Cousins, a dude who was averaging 25 and 13 last year before he got hurt.
So now they’ll insert DeMarcus Cousins into a lineup that includes Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green?
Is this an NBA team we’re discussing or the Western Conference All-Stars?
Barring a significant injury to one of their key pieces, pencil this team in to be playing through May and into June. Steve Kerr has the luxury of having 5 legitimate playmakers on the floor at all times- something that other NBA teams can only dream of.
The writing is on the wall as evidenced by being a remarkable -160 favorite to win the title before the season even starts.
Obviously, anything short of a third consecutive ring will be considered a failure, but we haven’t found many who are willing to wager against them.
The Clippers underwent a dramatic changeover last season when they swapped Blake Griffin for Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris (plus picks), and the roster turnover continued during the offseason.
DeAndre Jordan is gone, as is the coach’s son, Austin Rivers.
The exciting part is that their first pick from the draft, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, is ultra-explosive and has what it takes to be a difference-maker. Their next pick, Jerome Robinson, is a superb shooter who can score buckets in a hurry.
Marcin Gortat will help alleviate some of the pain of losing DeAndre, but overall, the Clippers could be taking a step back and fall below .500.
Unfortunately for owner Steve Ballmer, the Clips are in the process of rebuilding and finding an identity, while others in the West are already built to contend this season.
The Western Conference is just so tough that the Clippers could struggle to get to 40 wins with no trouble at all. Whether or not Doc Rivers can get his squad to “buy in” will be an interesting storyline to follow because things could go south in a hurry if these young players don’t perform favorably.
The King has arrived.
LA Lakers fans can finally be excited about basketball again because LaVar Ball will no longer be the center of all the attention in Hollywood.
LeBron James comes over to the Western Conference for the first time in his career in hopes that he can rebuild the Lakers franchise into a contender again. He’ll have plenty of help, as Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma look like they’re the real deal.
Rajon Rondo was brought in to help curb the inconsistent play from Lonzo Ball, and JaVale McGee should provide a nice shot-blocking presence.
Should Mo Wagner turn out to be a legit 4-man, don’t put it past LeBron to take this team really far and perhaps even all the way.
Just how far can LeBron take the Luke Walton-coached team in Los Angeles?
Betting against LeBron is never a wise thing, but this team is severely under-matched against the likes of Golden State. However, a trip to the Western Conference Finals is honestly probably the likely scenario.
He’s that good, folks.
While it was a severely disappointing season for basketball fans in Phoenix last season, the Suns appear to be on the verge of relevancy again thanks to a bevy of offseason acquisitions.
Starting with drafting Deandre Ayton with the first pick and keeping the mammoth-sized center in state,the Suns should have a premier 7-footer locked into their starting lineup for the foreseeable future.
Now add in that Phoenix swapped Zhaire Smith for Mikal Bridges and snagged French point guard ElieOkobo, and you are talking about a team seriously on the move.
Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza both left Houston and found new homes in the Grand Canyon State, giving new head coach Igor Kokoskov a more than adequate roster to play with.
When you win just 21 games in an NBA season, it’s hard to imagine being a playoff team the following year. So while I don’t expect the Suns to completely take the NBA by storm, they should be one of the teams making a big improvement from last year’s debacle.
However, they’ll need their superstar, Devin Booker, to start taking defending his opponents seriously. Otherwise, this team will wind up near the cellar of the Western Conference once again.
The Sacramento Kings are trying.
They are desperately trying to be relevant again in the Western Conference, although it’s been quite a few years since that has actually been a reality.
After drafting guys like Willie Cauley-Stein, Justin Jackson, and De’Aaron Fox over the past few years, it was clear that this was going to be a project in the works. Adding North Carolina big man Marvin Bagley III into the fray this summer gives this team even more hope and promise moving forward.
With that being said, expect the youth and inexperience to show vividly, as this year will be all about growth for Sacramento’s basketball team.
Accumulating just 27 wins last year was somewhat expected, but the fans in Sac-Town will want to see at least see some gains in the win department this upcoming season. Perhaps 35 wins would be a decent goal to shoot for because the competition the Kings will face on a nightly basis will be fierce and hungry.
Don’t bother wondering who is going to win this division, because that is all but decided. I know the regular season is yet to begin, but there is just no denying what the Golden State Warriors have in their locker room.
How DeMarcus Cousins meshes with the personalities in the Bay Area remains to be seen, but it’s hard to envision a scenario where it doesn’t work out.
Perhaps Boogie might not keep up his outstanding numbers from last season, but he made it clear when he signed his deal that winning a ring was the ultimate goal.
And what’s funny is that no matter how amazing the Warriors play, all eyes will still be glued to whatever King James and the Lakers are up to in Hollywood.
If James can take this current roster and turn it into one of the upper-echelon teams in the West, it will have been quite the accomplishment. If he takes them to the Finals, then you can stop with the whole “MJ-LeBron comparison,” because LeBron will have completely separated himself.
I know that’s a bold statement, but that’s how I see it. To find out what I think about the Southwest Division, just come back here tomorrow when I break it down from top to bottom!