Not too many divisions’ power rankings changed this past offseason, but the Pacific Division is one that should be evaluated.
One constant thing for the division is a Los Angeles team stands tall in the first position. The other teams and factors, however, are a free-for-all.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
Remember when the Clippers were one of the “worst-run sports’ franchises” of all-time? Well, these Clippers are first in the power rankings in the Pacific Division and perhaps even a top-3 team in the entire league. The new winning philosophy and the “buyer” mentality have the Clippers in prime position to be a force in the Western Conference. With head coach, Doc Rivers and his reputation, and record, of winning, the star-power starts from the top. Next, a plethora of shooting options from Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick, and Jared Dudley compliment the duo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in the post. This, of course, is all anchored by the leadership of Chris Paul.
2. Golden State Warriors
If last season was any indication, these Warriors are coming out to play. Mark Jackson‘s boys were the best attraction for the majority of the playoffs. The surprise is gone this season, but who cares? The Warriors boast one of the best young cores in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Harrison Barnes. The acquisitions of Andre Iguodala and Jermaine O’Neal won’t offset the offensive contributions of play-calling of Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, but it will work with Jackson’s philosophy of defense-first. Let’s not forget the most underrated power forward in the game, David Lee. These Warriors are exciting and should not be slept on as the new killers of the West.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
This was a close race with the Sacramento Kings and it’s not 2003. The Lakers did not choose to tank for the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes and opted for a chance to be mediocre and fall into an eighth seed. That is, if Kobe “Bean” Bryant can play at all this season. Another year of Steve Nash and Pau Gasol should provide wins by itself as both players are Hall-worthy players. The acquisitions from the Lakers were less than inspiring: Wes Johnson, Chris Kaman, Nick Young, Jordan Farmar. The one upside to this batch of Lakers is that it works with head coach Mike D’Antoni‘s philosophy of youth and athleticism. Perhaps these Lakers won’t lift a championship trophy, but these guys may just be exciting enough to watch on national television.
4. Sacramento Kings
The core is good: DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton, and Greivis Vásquez. They should be exciting to watch and not like the sideshow that the Maloofs ran last season. That, alone, is worth the price of admission. If the Kings can figure a consistent rotation and give the touches to the players they want to develop (Ben McLemore, Isaiah Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins), there may be something to look forward to in the next season.
5. Phoenix Suns
Not much to say, the Suns are still “rebuilding.” The fan base’s patience may run its course before the big picture is clear. These Suns are confusing. They went out and clouded the guard position again by acquiring super-athletic Eric Bledsoe from the Clippers despite having Goran Dragic already as the point; both Dragic and Bledsoe cannot shoot like a typical shooting guard. Of course, like many young teams, there are still potential prospects that may develop: Gerald Green, Archie Goodwin, and Alex Len. But, this team has no direction with players like Michael Beasley and Channing Frye clogging the arteries of the rotation. Maybe the Suns can unload talented center, Marcin Gortat to a contender for more parts. The lack of a true “franchise” player must be discouraging.
Photo Credit: Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports
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