The Pacific Division hosts the league’s reigning champion Golden State Warriors, and beyond that? Not a lot else. Golden State is joined by four teams all in various stages of a rebuild, with the best of those clubs being a now Chris Paul-less Clippers club.
While the Clippers are certainly intriguing, contenders they are not, nor is any of the rest of the Pacific Division outside of the powerhouse in the Bay.
Odds/Projections c/o Bovada.lv
Golden State Warriors
Regular Season Wins: Over/under 67.5
Over (-125); Under (-105)
The Golden State Warriors just completed the most-dominant three-season stretch in NBA history. It secured the NBA title in two of those seasons, including last year’s dominant 4-1 Finals win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. As impressive as all of that is, the team should be only better this season with continued chemistry between its two MVPs Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, not to mention hopefully a better year from sharpshooter Klay Thompson and jack-of-all-trades forward Draymond Green.
Beyond that, the Warriors return all its key role players plus shot chucker Nick Young, who could have a career revitalization on a team that should highlight his best skill (shooting, if anyone was wondering still).
The Warriors also have some young talent that could see larger roles this year, in Patrick McCaw, Jordan Bell and Kevon Looney. Omri Casspi has more talent than most realize, and he will probably breakout in Golden State. The Warriors have become something of a talent-enhancing factory in the way that the San Antonio Spurs have been, and it is no secret that the team’s acumen to share the basketball and its success is what has led to such a display of classically awesome basketball.
The Dubs remade the league’s philosophy and left 29 teams in its wake trying to play catchup. The bad news for the rest of the Association, is it probably will not catch up, and that the Dubs are still in the midst of one of the league’s most pronounced dynasties.
While the team certainly would be setting the bar high to best its own 73-win record, we see them eclipsing the 67.5 win mark set by oddsmakers with 68 or 69 wins in another amazing season by Steve Kerr and his troops. OVER.
Regular Season Wins: Over/under 43.5
Over (-135); Under (+105)
The Los Angeles Clippers never secured a title with Chris Paul as its point guard. It is a pity, because they were not even close, and CP3’s undying loyalty was ultimately rewarded with a trade to the Houston Rockets where he will team up with James Harden to form one of the league’s most explosive backcourts. Where does that leave the Clippers? Well, it leaves them in the hands of Blake Griffin, who for better or worse, now assumes the largest role of his NBA career.
The Clippers have been remarkably average with Griffin as its star, evidenced by the stretches it played without Paul in the last two seasons. While Griffin posts absolutely dominant numbers as the team’s playmaker and No. 1 option, doubts remain as to whether his talents alone are enough to carry the Clippers in the league’s stacked Western Conference. Moreover, what becomes of DeAndre Jordan, whose career and scoring was almost entirely dictated by the table-setting of Chris Paul?
The Clippers will be a good and competitive team, but to think it loses a top-five all-time point guard and improves in the process is sheer lunacy, as is the notion that the Clippers could somehow again be a 50-win team with Patrick Beverley and Austin Rivers starting where Paul and sharpshooter J.J. Redick once did.
While new addition Danilo Gallinari thinks the Clips have one of the league’s best frontcourts, that may even be true, but what will it all equate to with the assemblage of mediocre backcourt players? Even with all that said, we are liking the OVER, as the Clippers manage to secure 45-wins while scarcely resembling an actual threat to the true contenders of the conference.
Regular Season Wins: Over/under 33.5
Over (-125); Under (-105)
The Los Angeles Lakers will be on national television 44 times this season. That is more than any team except the Golden State Warriors, and without much to substantiate that hype, well, outside of No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball. Ball’s loudmouth father LaVar has basically set the bar so high that he has no chance to do anything but fail, but the Lakers could be an outstanding success story, even if Ball is not the entire reason why.
For all the excitement surrounding the UCLA point guard, it could be that less heralded players like Larry Nance Jr. and Kyle Kuzma make the Lakers well worth watching. It is certainly a talented collection of youngsters, and Brandon Ingram is still just barely scratching the surface of the immense potential that made him a No. 2 overall pick in 2016 coming out of Duke.
Beyond Ingram, Ball and the role players, however, the Lakers need to improve what was the league’s worst defense last year. And part of that is getting the undersized Julius Randle to defend at a level that renders him the better option between he and backup Nance Jr, who is an excellent defender and energy player.
The Lakers parted with D’Angelo Russell, and in doing so added one of the league’s best post threats in Brook Lopez, but seeing how Lopez fits in with what should be a high-octane offense is a little tricker. There probably is not a more exciting team on paper than the Lakers, but it is going to take more than some highlights to garner the respect of the elite teams in the West. With so much uncertainty and so much hype, do not blame us here for calling a PUSH on the over/under of 33.5 wins.
Regular Season Wins: Over/under 29
Over (-105); Under (-125)
The Phoenix Suns are still an odd collection of talent. It is a team saturated with backcourt talent, but largely a collection of guards whose best talents is not really shooting the ball. Devin Booker is an elite scorer and a good shooter, but his percentages fall far shy of that which could be called “great,” and Eric Bledsoe has always been something of a forward trapped in a guard’s body. The pair is great together, but it has not resulted in much success for the young Suns, who are still waiting to see just what can become of three frontcourt talents in Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and Alex Len.
The three youngsters all have star potential, with Chriss perhaps exhibiting the most of that quality thus far, and T.J. Warren is a consummate 3-man who should start for at least halt the year while the team grooms lottery pick Josh Jackson of Kansas. There is just so much young talent, even down to backups like Alan Williams (who will be injured to start the season) and Tyler Ulis, but the Suns lack veteran leadership outside of Tyson Chandler, and none of the major issues from last season (poor defense and perimeter shooting) were really remedied this offseason.
For those reasons, we expect the Suns improvement to be largely mitigated by the same factors that made it the worst team in the West last year. We are going to go hesitantly with the OVER, but only expecting a win total of 30. It is a precarious wager, but it is largely based on the fact that Booker finds a way to take it to the next level, and that is not just because of his 70-point outing—after all, that came in a loss.
Regular Season Wins: Over/under 27.5
Over (-130); Under (EVEN)
The Sacramento Kings moved away from DeMarcus Cousins, but rather than it vastly improving the team, it merely altered the look of its “bad.” Buddy Hield may or may not become the next Steph Curry, as Vivek Randavive said he would be, but Sacto has a history of putting a lot of young talent together only to finish near the cellar of the Western Conference. Is there anything to suggest that changes this year? No, not really, there is not. The Kings did add a quality point guard in George Hill, and Zach Randolph will bring some much needed veteran leadership—but that is only if Randolph even plays.
Is there anything to suggest that changes this year? No, not really, there is not. The Kings did add a quality point guard in George Hill, and Zach Randolph will bring some much needed veteran leadership—but that is only if Randolph even plays.
A looming marijuana trafficking charge now endangers the remainder of what has been a pretty good NBA career for Z-Bo. Fair or not, it is the type of “luck” that follows any player that joins this disastrous franchise, which has now seen 11-years pass since it has made the NBA’s postseason. While 27.5 wins
While 27.5 wins may not seem like a very high bar to set, Sacramento is the one team that can put talent together and get nothing from it to fail in such spectacular fashion, and we embrace the UNDER for that reason alone.