2009-10 NBA Pacific Division Preview
If there’s any doubt in anyone’s mind which club is tops in this division, there shouldn’t be. It is far and above the Los Angeles Lakers. Coming off their 16th NBA Championship and with a roster that includes Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum. In 2005, the Lakers finished fourth in the Pacific. The next year they were third and the following year second. Then in 2008 and 2009, they were first. Look for that most recent trend to continue. The Lakers of LA should also notch first in the Western Conference.
Second-place, as it has the past two seasons, should go to the Phoenix Suns. The Suns could be a first-place team if they had some defense. But they don’t have the bangers in the frontcourt. Although point guard Steve Nash is starting his 14-year in the league, he is still one of the best around. Nash continues to be resilient and dependable. One hope is that GM Steve Kerr finally gets it. His attempt over the past two seasons to redesign the team was disastrous. The other hope is that the Suns can get some of their guys to play “D.”
Don Nelson is at the helm of the Golden State Warriors and where Nelson treads there is always hope. Once he notches 24 wins, he’ll be the winningest coach in NBA history, passing Lenny Wilkens (1,332). Can he get to that magic number this year with a team that only won 29 games all last season? It won’t be easy. Although the Warriors can score points, they are one of the worst teams at stopping opposing offenses.
The Clippers have been consistently at or near the bottom of the division for the past three seasons. Expect more of the same this year. They lack just about everything: scoring, rebounding and defense. However, they do have a decent array of young talent. If coach Mike Dunleavy and company can develop and utilize the LA Clippers’ existing roster and create a team capable of playing together day-in and day-out, they will be in the post-season in a year or two.
The final spot in the Pacific Division goes to the club that has been there the most over the past five years: the Sacramento Kings. The good news for the Kings is that they’ve made some fine moves via the draft and signings to make some progress. With veteran coach Phil Westphal coming in, this club should show improvement immediately but they are a long way from being a contender. If they can show progress over the next few seasons, working with some of the new talent they have on hand, they’ll eventually make the playoffs.
Expect two of the five teams, the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns, to be in the 2010 post-season. In a few years, three or four of the Pacific Division clubs could be playoff bound.
2009-10 NBA Pacific Division Predictions
Projected Order of Finish: Click on team name for individual in-depth team outlook.