October 25, 2012
By Israel Chandler
In continuing Pro Basketball Draft's NBA preview, this time PBD will take a look at the Pacific Conference. The big news this off-season was Dwight Howard finding a new home and Steve Nash tagging along with him. The Lakers figure to be atop the Pacific but the Clippers will put up a fight for not only the division but for LA. The Warriors, Kings and Suns all figure to be trending upwards with their youth but will have some rough patches along the way. For a full preview of the division, here's what to expect.
Golden State Warriors
Owner: Peter Guber and Joe Lacob
General Manager: Bob Myers
Head Coach: Mark Jackson
Projected Roster: Harrison Barnes, Kent Bazemore, Andris Biedrins, Andrew Bogut, Stephen Curry, Festus Ezeli, Draymond Green, Jarrett Jack, Richard Jefferson, Charles Jenkins, Carl Landry, David Lee, Brandon Rush, Klay Thompson, and Jeremy Tyler
Projected Starters: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, David Lee, and Andrew Bogut
Additions: Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Jarrett Jack, and Carl Landry
Losses: Dorell Wright, Ekpe Udoh, Dominic McGuire, and Nate Robinson
Where they were: Last season was not good for the Warriors. The Warriors finished the season 23-43 which was 4th best in the Pacific Division and at the bottom of the Western Conference. The Warriors had high hopes for the team leaning on the shoulders on Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. With Stephen Curry battling ankle injuries for most of the season and the Warriors trading away Monta Ellis at the trade deadline, the team was going downhill fast.
Where they’re at: This off-season was big for the Warriors. With the seventh pick in the NBA draft the Warriors selected Harrison Barnes. Barnes is a 6’8” wing that can bring explosiveness and scoring at his position. With the departure of Ellis through trade the Warriors received Andrew Bogut in return who is a threat in the low post. Also to help the team they brought in some veterans in Jarrett Jack a solid point guard and Carl Landry, who led the 4th quarter in scoring a year ago. Last the main goal in the off-season was to get Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut back to the season at 100 percent.
Where they’re going: The Warriors should be a totally different team this season. With the addition of Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes to the lineup they should be able to get more wins and compete in the Pacific Division. Also with Jarrett Jack he will be able to play the point and have Curry play off the ball as well. Their main concerns are who will replace Ellis scoring, how will Bogut return from injury, and will they be able to keep Curry healthy the whole season. The Warriors should fight in the division but with the team young and with new additions they will still fight to finish 3rd at best.
Los Angeles Clippers
Owner: Donald Sterling
General Manager: Gary Sacks
Head Coach: Vinny Del Negro
Projected Roster: Matt Barnes, Chauncey Billups, Eric Bledsoe, Caron Butler, Jamal Crawford, Willie Green, Blake Griffin, Grant Hill, Ryan Hollins, DeAndre Jordan, Travis Leslie, Lamar Odom, Chris Paul, Trey Thompkins, and Ronny Turiaf
Projected Starters: Chris Paul, Caron Butler, Willie Green, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan
Additions: Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford, Willie Green, Grant Hill, Ryan Hollins, Lamar Odom
Losses: Mo Williams, Randy Foye, Reggie Evans, Kenyon Martin, Ryan Gomes, and Nick Young
Where they were: Last season the Clippers surprised a lot of teams and showed the world that there is another team in L.A. besides the Lakers. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin took control of the reigns and carried the team last year. It was either Chris Paul hitting late baskets for the win, throwing alley-oops for highlights every night, or Blake Griffin posterizing people any given night. The Clippers finished the season 40-26 second in the division and the 5th seed going into the playoffs. They defeated the Grizzlies in 7 games before being swept by the Spurs in the second round.
Where they’re at: The off-season goal for the Clippers was to bring in more scorers that could compliment and play off of Paul and Griffin. With the departures of Mo Williams and Randy Foye in the backcourt the Clippers went out in free agency and brought in Jamal Crawford, a great scorer and one on one player, and Matt Barnes a perimeter shooter and an excellent defender. Also they went out and got Grant Hill and Lamar Odom, two veterans that were looking to go to championship caliber teams.
Where they’re going: The Clippers built there team to win now and to knock off the Lakers and take control of the Pacific Division. The Clippers are Chris Paul's team and they feed off him in order to play well. With the additions of Crawford, Hill, and Odom the second unit should be just as strong as the first team. The only concerns are how healthy will Chauncey Billups be when he returns to action; are there too many superstars on one team; and which Odom will show up, to L.A. the one from Dallas or the sixth man of the year from the Lakers. PBD has the Clippers competing for the top spot in the division and also for the best record overall in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles Lakers
Owner: Jerry Buss
General Manager: Mitch Kupchak
Head Coach: Mike Brown
Projected Roster: Steve Blake, Kobe Bryant, Earl Clark, Chris Duhon, Devin Ebanks, Pau Gasol, Andrew Goudelock, Jordan Hill, Dwight Howard, Antawn Jamison, Jodie Meeks, Darius Morris, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre, and Metta World Peace
Projected Starters: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard
Additions: Chris Duhon, Dwight Howard, Antawn Jamison, Jodie Meeks, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre
Losses: Andrew Bynum, Jason Kapono, Ramon Sessions, Josh McRoberts, and Troy Murphy
Where they were: Last season ended in a disappointment for the Lakers. The Lakers finished the season 41-25 for 1st in the division and 3rd overall in the Western Conference. Kobe Bryant played stellar all season, as usual, and tried to carry to the team but couldn’t in the long run. The Lakers tried to make a push for a championship by trading at the deadline and bringing in Ramon Session. The Lakers were able to get by the Denver Nuggets in 7 games but lost in the second round to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 5 games.
Where they’re at: This off-season was huge for the Lakers. They went out and made a trade for the number one person that every team was trying to get at by bringing in Dwight Howard. They had to part ways with their young big man in Andrew Bynum but they didn’t mind because they got Howard in return. Howard will bring tenacity, a low post presence, and his defensive player of the year abilities to the team. Also during free agency the Lakers were able to get Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison, Chris Duhon, and Jodie Meeks. Each player will bring something different to the table but Nash, Howard, and Jamison will bring veteran leadership and experience.
Where they’re going: This season will be fun and very interesting for the Lakers. They went out and brought in a lot of key pieces that the team, ownership, and fans say they needed. They went out and got Nash the point guard they needed to run a team and he can also fill it up when needed. Now they should have a better bench with Duhon, Jamison, and Meeks. These guys should help get the Lakers back over the hump and making it back to the finals. PBD has the Lakers battling for the top spot in the division with the Clippers and also battling with the West to have the best record.
Owner: Robert Sarver
General Manager: Lance Blanks
Head Coach: Alvin Gentry
Projected Roster: Michael Beasley, Shannon Brown, Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye, Marcin Gortat, Wesley Johnson, Solomon Jones, Kendall Marshall, P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris, Jermaine O’Neal, Luis Scola, and Sebastian Telfair
Projected Starters: Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, and Marcin Gorta
Additions: Michael Beasley, Goran Dragic, Wesley Johnson, Kendall Marshall, P.J. Tucker, Jermaine O’Neal, and Luis Scola
Losses: Hakim Warrick, Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Robin Lopez, Josh Childress, and Michael Redd
Where they were: Last season the Suns battled but missed the playoffs. The Suns finished the season 33-33 3rd in the division and 10th in the west and missed the playoffs by 2 games. Nash which is the center piece for the Suns averaged 12 points and 10 assists on the season. Gortat and Dudley also tried to carry the team into the playoffs but just couldn’t. The team had high hopes of making it but crashed at the end by losing there last 3 games and going 4-6 in there last 10 games.
Where they’re at: This off-season was a major transformation for the Suns. The Suns lost a lot of there main pieces in Nash, Hill, and Lopez. In return they got some nice pieces also from free agency that should help there team out as well. Michael Beasley who had a down year in Minnesota should have a great upcoming year; Luis Scola is an underrated power forward who averages around 17 points and 8 rebounds a year; and Goran Dragic who is a crafty point guard that can shoot and create for his teammates. Also with the 13th pick in the draft the Suns selected Kendall Marshall, a pure point guard, that will compete with Dragic for playing position.
Where they’re going: This upcoming season PBD has the Suns flying under the radar and having a good season. Even though the team lost some key pieces they also brought in some players that should step in right away and fill those voids. Luis Scola and Michael Beasley should have breakout years with the up-tempo style that Alvin Gentry likes to play. PBD could see the Suns battling for 3rd in the division and for the last final playoff spot. But if the Suns hit a rough patch they could end up farther down in the division than they would want to be.
Owner: Joe and Gavin Maloof
General Manager: Geoff Petrie
Head Coach: Keith Smart
Projected Roster: Aaron Brooks, DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette, Francisco Garcia, Chuck Hayes, Tyler Honeycutt, James Johnson, Travis Outlaw, Thomas Robinson, John Salmons, Isaiah Thomas, Jason Thompson, and Marcus Thornton
Projected Starters: Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, Jason Thompson, and DeMarcus Cousins
Additions: Aaron Brooks, James Johnson, and Thomas Robinson
Losses: Donte Green and Terrance Williams
Where they were: Last season was a work in progress for the Kings. The Kings finished the season 22-44 which was last in the Pacific Division and at the bottom of the Western Conference. The Kings 2 stars had rough seasons. Tyreke Evans the leader and the facilitator on the team had lows in every category since joining the NBA. DeMarcus Cousins. a young minded but extremely great player, had a great season but his on the court issues with his coach hindered his progress. Overall the Kings are a young team that is still a work in progress.
Where they’re at: During the off-season the Kings didn’t do that much with their team, besides trying to find a new city to play in. They didn’t lose any big names or scoring production but they brought in talent to help there frontcourt and backcourt. With the 5th pick in the draft the Kings selected Thomas Robinson a young athletic post that should help them with inside play. Also through free agency the Kings picked up Aaron Brooks a crafty point guard that can score, distribute to his teammates, and the backup point guard they were missing last year.
Where they’re going: The Sacramento Kings are a young team and will be hungry for wins this year. The Kings will potentially be a good team in about 2 or 3 years. Their young nucleus hasn't gelled yet and they don’t have that one person or veteran on the team that everyone looks up to. The Kings will go as far as Evans and Cousins take them but they are still looking for someone else to help them. PBD has the Kings finishing at the bottom again of the division just because this division is very competitive and one of the best in the league.