Pacific Division (Part II)
The NBA season has arrived, with games due to tip off Oct 22nd, on Tuesday. Bovada has released odds of divisional crowns for the 30 NBA teams, and we are going to handicap that aspect as well as take a quick glance at each team as it enters the 2019-20 season. There are no over/under for season wins currently available for betting on Bovada, but we are going to predict season win totals for each team in the brief synopses of each of the six divisions in the NBA, moving here into the NBA’s Pacific Division’s three remaining teams after the pair in Los Angeles that was Part 1.
G.S. Warriors (+425)
The Golden State Warriors really lost its grip on the NBA when Kevin Durant departed for Brooklyn and Klay Thompson tore his ACL trying to save the day before that. Now, it heads into the season with two of its big four intact, and Thompson’s production hopefully supplanted by D’Angelo Russell. Can Russell really work with Steph Curry in the backcourt even, though? Both need the ball to be successful, whereas part of what made Thompson work so well was his ability to score without keeping the ball in his hands very long. Draymond Green may need to take on a larger role scoring the ball, but he probably will not. Glenn Robinson III has bounced all over and appears to be the starting small forward on a team that left that position as an afterthought.
All in all, even with Curry going absolutely atomic, it will be difficult for this team to manage an 82 game season with a sheer lack of depth, and with so many guys that are mostly unproven.
Kevon Looney is tough as nails, but is he good? Willie Cauley-Stein hopes to redeem himself behind Looney as perhaps the most inconsistent and frustrating big man in the NBA. Alec Burks is a scorer who has been forgotten, also in search of redemption. While the Dubs are still a playoff team, they are not much more, and that is quite a nadir after dominating the West for the past half-decade.
All good things come to their ends. With so many questions regarding so many crucial aspects, Golden State’s window has slammed closed at last.
The Sacramento Kings have not made the playoffs in 14 years, and that probably will not change this year, despite the team really gearing up and making a ton of major improvements. The West is just that tough. De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Marvin Bagley are about as strong a trio as one could desire for a rebuild, and despite all that promise, it just does not seem to be enough for Sacramento, not yet. Hield also is feeling spurned by the Kings not offering a max deal, so his days in Sacto could be numbered, which has to be troubling for Vivek Randivive who surrendered DeMarcus Cousins to obtain the coveted 2-guard he had wanted to draft in Hield.
Fox has made all the improvements to become a top point guard but is still several years from coming anywhere near his prime. Bagley has a ton of coordination and talent to be a major post presence, and he could even be one as soon as this season. But despite the Kings having all the requisite things to be a playoff contender, it probably still falls short.
Sacto has the depth with Trevor Ariza and Bogdan Bogdanovic on the wings, and while Dewayne Dedmon is nothing special offensively, he is a perfect defensive complement to Bagley. It has to be tough for the Kings to get all of this in place, just to see it amount to another late lottery pick when June comes around, but that is precisely what we expect unfortunately for Kings faithful.
The Phoenix Suns look great and have looked great, but only on paper. This team is abysmal defensively and has nothing close to a defensive identity, which has hurt it immensely as a team with plenty of offensive juice to (presumably) keep fans in the seats. Devin Booker is one of the best offensive 2-guards in the NBA, but his career is almost encapsulated by his 70 point game that resulted in a team loss. He has been tremendous, but the Suns have been nothing but a continual disappointment.
DeAndre Ayton looked great, particularly early on, in his rookie season, and the Suns would ideally like some of the tutelage done by Tyson Chandler to pay off in creating a defensive beast to go with the post presence and passer he already is. Dario Saric makes his third career stop still in search of finding his niche in the NBA, and Kelly Oubre Jr. already appears dozens of times better than he did for his entire time playing with John Wall and Bradley Beal in Washington.
But can this team start to gel defensively, to communicate, to do all the things that have rendered it a cellar dweller? Well, it has not happened yet, and there is no real reason to believe Phoenix makes any sort of massive turnaround while employing the same broken model that has failed it for the past several seasons.