The Pacific Division was highly competitive this season. Before the year, there were two teams projected to enter the playoffs — Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. While only two teams did qualify, there were plenty of surprises and potential with the rest of the division.
Each team could point to a specific player that steered their season. Every team in the Pacific Division potentially listed an All-Star.
Los Angeles Clippers
It would be easy to point out Chris Paul. Paul created the most points by assists per 48 minutes (for players that played over 15 games) at 33.3. And he was the leader by points created by assists per game. But, he played only 62 games. Blake Griffin emerged as an MVP candidate and lived up to the hype, but that was expected. The true MVP of the Clippers should be DeAndre Jordan. He ranked top-3 in total blocks and blocks per game, led the NBA in rebounding, and was the only true defensive option in the paint for the Clippers. His 82 games played should also be noted. Jordan took the biggest step out of any Clipper and was in plenty seasonal award discussions.
Golden State Warriors
This could be summed up with two words: Stephen Curry. The absolute engine of the team. With him, they’re the Warriors, without him, they’re the Philadelphia 76ers.
This was the surprise of the NBA, not just the Pacific Division. The team needed a leader and a great player and got one with Goran Dragic. Affectionately nicknamed “The Dragon,” he was an All-Star without the reward. Dragic ran the team, with and without Eric Bledsoe, and put up career-best numbers. He ranked in the top-20 in PER (Player efficiency ranking) and shot a robust 50.5 percent from the field and 40.8 from three. His shooting and scoring average (20.3 points) made him only the 15th player to achieve those statistics in a single season. That, and he was the NBA’s Most Improved Player for the 2014 season.
It would be a shame to not mention Isaiah Thomas‘ great season. He’s one of the best man-to-man point guard defenders and proved this season why he’s one of the next best point guards in the league. But, the honor should go to DeMarcus Cousins. His career year should be the start of many more. A 22.7 point, 11.7 rebound season is tough enough, but when coupled with a good 49.6 field goal percentage, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game, Cousins was a complete player. He usually received headlines for his bad behavior, but this year, he should receive it for great basketball. This is the next best center in the league.
Los Angeles Lakers
Jodie Meeks. When Kobe Bryant was hurt again, it was Meeks that took complete offensive responsibility. The statistics did not mimic the Hall-of-Fame guard, but his efficiency was amazing. He averaged a career-high 15.7 points while shooting 46.3 percent from the field, 40.1 percent from three, 85.7 percent from the free-throw line, and only 1.4 turnovers. Meeks proved he belonged to any team’s starting lineup.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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