Pacific Division Predictions:
1) Los Angeles Clippers
PG: Chris Paul/Darren Collison
SG: J.J. Redick/Jamal Crawford
SF: Jared Dudley/Matt Barnes/Reggie Bullock
PF: Blake Griffin/Bryon Mullens/Antawn Jamison
C: DeAndre Jordan
The missing pieces to this Clippers team last year was shooting and coaching, and they answered them this offseason. J.J. Redick was born to shoot and has never played on a team this good that will get him open looks. Chris Paul is the best pure point guard in the league and I think he will flourish under Doc Rivers. New Clippers coach Doc Rivers brings team defense and toughness with him, which Blake Griffin can improve on greatly. This team started off hot last year and then cooled off. Doc Rivers is a top 3 coach in this league and I think he can lead this team to a Conference Final.
2) Golden State Warriors
PG: Steph Curry
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Andre Iguodola/Harrison Barnes
PF: David Lee
C: Andrew Bogut/Jermaine O’Neal
There’s no doubt that the Warriors will be one of, if not the most, fun team this watch this season. It’s pretty impossible not to love watching Steph Curry play basketball and put on a show. He’s one of those players where you text your friends and say ‘Are you watching Curry right now?!” Mark Jackson has one hell of a team around Curry and it starts with David Lee, one of the best and underrated players in the league.
Bogut is the rock they need down low, and the Warriors have to hope he stays healthy since they just inked him to a contract extension. Klay Thompson is a great shooter but needs to be consistent if the Warriors want to be taken seriously. Lastly, the duo of Andre Iguodola and Harrison Barnes is the best small forward combination in the league and I wouldn’t be surprised if both were in during crunch time. It will be an exciting year for the Warriors, but Curry’s glass ankle has to stay healthy.
3) Los Angeles Lakers
PG: Steve Nash/Steve Blake
SG: Kobe Bryant/Jodie Meeks
SF: Nick Young/Wesley Johnson
PF: Pau Gasol
C: Chris Kaman/Jordan Hill
Do I love Kobe Bryant? Yes. Will I never accept that his time is almost up and the Lakers are in trouble? Probably not. I don’t think Kobe is going out like this, and I believe will carry the Lakers like he tried to do last season. No more Dwight Howard means the post now belongs to Pau Gasol, where he has made his name. He might be the butt of some jokes, but we all know Pau was the final piece of the Lakers championship runs, and Kobe won’t let you forget that.
Steve Nash hopefully has one more push in him and can stay on the court because if he does, there’s no questioning his basketball IQ and court vision. Nick Young and Wesley Johnson are trying to make names for themselves as they might develop greatly in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. The pink elephant in the room is Kobe Bryant’s Achilles and his age. Don’t tell Kobe that is a problem, but many people think it is and will keep the Lakers from making the playoffs. The Black Mamba is extra motivated this season, after ESPN predicted his Lakers to finish 12th in the West and ranking him the 25th best player in the NBA. Watch out.
4) Sacramento Kings
PG: Greivis Vasquez/ Isaiah Thomas/Jimmer Fredette
SG: Ben McLemore/Marcus Thornton
SF: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute/John Salmons/Travis Outlaw
PF: Jason Thompson/Carl Landry/Patrick Patterson
C: DeMarcus Cousins
I feel like this is the Minnesota Timberwolves 2.0. Cousins is an excellent young player who was just made the franchise player. Vasquez had a breakout year and showed he can handle being a NBA starting point guard. The PF position is clustered, and I think all three have the ability to start. Ben McLemore was rated the best prospect in the draft by many and fell into the Kings lap. They need him to now start off slowly and give the franchise some hope. They have nice talent on paper, but at the end of the day, it’s still the Sacramento Kings and they lack the talent needed to make any impact on the tough Western Conference.
5) Phoenix Suns
PG: Goran Dragic/Kendall Marshall
SG: Eric Bledsoe/Gerald Green/Shannon Brown
SF: P.J. Tucker
PF: Morris Brothers
C: Emeka Okafor/Alex Len/Miles Plumee
I talked about the Utah Jazz being the worst team in the West, well the Phoenix Suns are right behind them. Eric Bledsoe is a great talent, but can he be the vocal point and main scorer on a team? I really don’t think so; he wasn’t like James Harden who had amazing talent but had two other scoring superstars holding him back. The Morris brothers are nice, but are no lethal duo. This team isn’t very good and I expect them to be a bottom feeder in the West all season. Can anyone say, “Andrew Wiggins?”