As the NBA is coming around the corner, 2018/19 looks to be an intriguing year. I will preview each division in the Western Conference and how each team will do. The divisions are Pacific, Northwest and Southwest. With all that settled, here is a preview of the Pacific division.
2018/19 NBA Western Conference Preview: Pacific Division
Golden State Warriors
As everyone should know by now, the Warriors are the best team in the NBA. They won their second straight title over LeBron James’ Cavaliers which means that it’s their third in four years. Dub Nation is a historic dynasty that still dominates the rest of the league. They have so many great players like Curry, Durant, Green and Thompson.
In a stunning move, Cousins decided to join Golden State and that made everybody lose their minds. He will also miss a portion of the season while recovering from his achilles injury. Their bench has been suspect but the all-star starting five will negate the weaknesses. What’s crazy is that Cousins could choose to not play the whole season and they still will be dominant. Barring any surprises, this team will be on the top of the mountain for the third straight year in June.
Los Angeles Lakers
It was an earth-shattering move for the purple and gold as LeBron James decided to take his talents to Laker Nation. It’s something that the Lakers have been searching for since the great Kobe Bryant retired. It’s the genius of former Laker great Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka that made it happen.
LA made progress last season going 35-47 with the young core of Ingram, Kuzma, Ball, Caldwell-Pope and Hart looking to progress more as players. They added Wagner and Svi Mykhailiuk in the draft to add more shooting. With the acquisition of James and his high standards, their developments will be sped up. Also, Rondo, Stephenson, McGee and Beasley were brought in for veteran guidance. For the first time in a long time, there is optimism for Laker Nation to bring another title back to the City of Angels.
Los Angeles Clippers
The greatest run in the history of the Clippers franchise from 2012-2017 is over. The core pieces of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick are officially history. Last season, they finished 42-40 despite all the injuries but missed the playoffs.
The lone bright spot for them was Williams. He had a career year as he led the team in scoring at 22.6 and 5.3 assists while coming off the bench. Williams scored a career-high 50 points in a blowout victory over the Warriors. He would win his second Sixth Man of the Year award because of his performance. He’ll be asked to carry a big load as the Clippers will go through another rebuilding season. In the draft, they added Gilgeous-Alexander and Robinson to the team.
The Suns finished with a 21-61 record to finish 2018, which was the worst in the league. They have been the laughingstock of the league with their bad decision making and poor play. With that, they were compensated with the number-one pick and selected talented big man DeAndre Ayton from nearby Arizona. He has a long wingspan can score in the post, shoot from the outside and can rebound. They also got Bridges to go along Jackson for offensive versatility and perimeter defence.
Ayton is a perfect complementary star to Booker. Booker is a rising star in this league that can score and shoot the ball at will. He won the three-point shootout during All-Star Weekend last season. In being the team’s best player, he was awarded with a five year(s)/$158 million contract extension. Booker and Ayton could be the next Kobe-Shaq duo if it works out.
For the 12th straight season, the Kings did not qualify for the postseason. They now have the longest current playoff drought in the NBA. With the Kings having one of the worst records in the league, they would select big man Marvin Bagley III out of Duke. Bagley was the ACC Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American. He averaged 21 points, 11.1 rebounds and shot 61.4% from the field.
Bagley will come to a team led by fellow ex-rookies Fox, Jackson and Bogdanović. Fox had an up and down rookie season as he adapted to the league but, he has the speed, quickness and shooting ability to be a John Wall type of point guard. With an all-around big man in Bagley, the Kings will be an exciting team to watch because of their youth. The franchise may not be winning a lot of games anytime soon but they’re more focused on developing the young core.
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