Pacific Division NBA Preview 2020-21
We conclude our NBA Division previews with a glimpse at the Pacific Division of the Western Conference!
Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are a very different team. Klay Thompson is out for the season. Kevin Durant is gone. What remains is some new pieces and some young faces that could change the face of the Warriors, while still remaining plenty competitive. Starting alongside Curry this year will be Andrew Wiggins at 2-guard and Kelly Oubre Jr at the 3-spot. Draymond Green remains at the 4, though Eric Paschall will see plenty of playing time there, as well. Rookie James Wiseman will likely not start the season as a starter, but as it wears on Kevon Looney will lose more and more minutes to the Warriors’ top rookie. Once Thompson returns next season, the Warriors should be able to mold the new-look team again into something of a contender with fair ease.
Projected Record: 39-33
The Los Angeles Clippers suffer some key losses from last year’s outstanding team. Montrezl Harrell left to join LeBron James across town, and the Clippers move on to Serge Ibaka at center now. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are the cornerstones, but George performed horribly in the 2020 postseason, citing a variety of excuses related to the “bubble” play. That said, the Clips hardly can be counted out with two of the best two-way swingmen in the league accented by the defensive pest work of Pat Beverley at the point guard position. Lou Williams is timeless as a Sixth Man, providing the Clippers with one of the best pure bench scoring threats in the Association. That said, for all the Clips have in talent, they still seem to be the stepchild of Los Angeles.
Projected Record: 41-31
The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers only got better. And with the way Talen Horton Tucker is playing this preseason, the Lakers may have more threats on this roster than we ever suspected. While Tucker’s role is debatable, what is not is that the talents of Anthony Davis and LeBron James are among two of the best four or five players in the entire league, and stacked on the same roster. Marc Gasol should add some good passing and Harrell will be a dynamite fit with James’ passing. Dennis Schroeder comes in to play the guard spot next to James, which means to cover the opposing point guard while LBJ runs the show. The Lakers could be every bit as good as last year’s iteration… but it probably will be even better really.
Projected Record: 56-16
For many seasons, the Phoenix Suns have underachieved, and most of it has to do with the team’s lack of awareness and covering for one another on the defensive end. The Suns needed a culture shift, and it is betting that a 35-year-old Chris Paul has plenty left in the tank to make that happen. It could revolutionize and even revitalize Devin Booker, whose brilliance has went without being maximized on a team with so many plaguing issues that nothing has really resolved yet. The Suns will start Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder at the 3-4 spots, both of whom make defense their calling cards. DeAndre Ayton can protect the rim, to be sure. Moving Dario Saric to the bench only helps the initiative of improving team defense, and Cameron Johnson should be a good second unit scorer with Saric. The Suns either take steps forward and Chris Paul leads this team in the right path, or Paul could suffer more injuries. It is a bit of a gamble.
Projected Record: 34-38
The Sacramento Kings round out the Pacific Division with one more team that cannot seem to achieve its “paper potential” on the court. DeAaron Fox is a superstar and Buddy Hield is cut out to be a chucker alongside him, but the pair now adds Tyrese Haliburton, a rookie whose promise should be a good third guard in this rotation. Harrison Barnes has been improving under the radar, and Marvin Bagley looks a lot like Jermaine O’Neal when healthy. Richaun Holmes assumes the starting center role after a breakout season. His bounce and efficiency should get the starting nod over Hassan Whiteside, though the two could form something of a timeshare by the end of the season.
Projected Record: 30-42