Golden State is set up to dominate in the Pacific again this year, but will another team on the West Coast make some noise this upcoming season? Let’s take a look.
1. Golden State Warriors
16-17 Record: 67-15
Major Additions: Nick Young, Omri Casspi, Jordan Bell
Major Losses: Ian Clark, James Michael McAdoo
The Warriors come into the season possibly better than they were last year. The only rotation player that will be absent from the Bay this year is G, Ian Clark. Clark had a career changing year last year for the Warriors, putting up solid shooting percentages due to the bevy of shooters on the floor with him. Although Clark was certainly an important piece for the team, he rarely saw floor time in the finals, and the Warriors may have found an even better backup for Klay Thompson in Nick Young. Young brings supreme shooting ability, along with length to be able to guard on the perimeter, unlike Clark. F Omri Casspi brings more bench shooting to Oakland, though could see insignificant minutes as he’ll sit behind KD and Iggy at the 3. Golden State replaces McAdoo with rookie Jordan Bell at the power forward position. Bell’s defensive versatility and energy could provide a lift for the champs off the bench. As the core comes into this year with a season under their belt together, I think the Warriors could reach the 70 win mark for the second time in 4 seasons.
17-18 Record Prediction: 70-12
2. Los Angeles Lakers
16-17 Record: 26-56
Major Additions: Brook Lopez, Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Thomas Bryant
Major Losses: D’Angelo Russell, Timofey Mozgov
The Johnson-Pelinka administration has begun in Los Angeles and the Lakers look to be soon on their way back to the postseason. The acquisition of elite offensive center, Brook Lopez, gives them a strong inside rotation of Lopez and Zubac. The Lakers will miss the talent that G, D’Angelo Russell, showcased in the backcourt, but moving him to Brooklyn may have given them a direction to go in. Los Angeles has been stockpiling high draft picks on their roster over the last few years, looking for a star, and have now made moves to attain an identity and find the pieces to get the team back to glory. From what we saw in the summer, the draft seems to have been a win for Magic and the Lakers. Lonzo ball showcased a well-rounded arsenal and an elite ability to lead and distribute in the future. A backcourt of Ball and Caldwell-Pope or Clarkson will also give them size to go up against other guards. The real steal of the 2017 Draft may end up being PF, Kyle Kuzma. The Utah product had a spectacular summer league, winning championship MVP and leading Los Angeles to the title with Ball absent. A forward tandem of Ingram and either Kuzma or Randle could be the future for LA. The playoffs may be a stretch this year, but I predict the Lakers will make huge strides this season under Luke Walton’s offense.
17-18 Record Prediction: 40-42
3. Los Angeles Clippers
16-17 Record: 51-31
Major Additions: Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari, Willie Reed, Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Milos Teodosic
Major Losses: Chris Paul, Luc Mbah a Moute, Raymond Felton, Marreese Speights, J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford
The moves made by the Clipper front office this summer almost make it seem as if they’re in denial about the sad truth that their time for contention is all but over. Despite having one of the best front courts in the Western Conference, the departure of Chris Paul should’ve been the first sign that it was time to get a rebuild going. The roster looks to be one that will struggle to get into the playoffs in a stacked Western Conference, but not be bad enough to get a high lottery pick. The addition of Lou Williams gives them some help in the backcourt, despite losing their entire starting and backup backcourt players this summer. Danilo Gallinari provides size and scoring on the wing, but Los Angeles seems to be lacking of a reliable playmaker they’ve had in abundance in years past. It’s hard to see Milos Teodosic replacing Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, and Raymond Felton’s floor-leading ability. With Griffin’s injury risk and Jordan’s unreliability on the offensive side of the ball, I can’t see Clip City making it to the playoffs for the 7th straight year.
17-18 Record Prediction: 37-45
4. Phoenix Suns
16-17 Record: 24-58
Major Additions: Josh Jackson, Alec Peters
Major Losses: Leandro Barbosa
The Suns come into the season with essentially the same roster it had last year. They lose veteran guard, Leandro Barbosa, who wouldn’t have been a major part of the rotation this year anyway. They do, however, pick up what could be a draft day steal, selecting Josh Jackson with the 4th pick. The Kansas product brings defensive versatility and size on the wing in Phoenix, along with loads of potential to develop into a superstar. If Jackson is able to improve his outside jumper, he could become one of the most dangerous forwards in the league. The biggest statistical problem for the Suns last year was defense, ranking 28th in the entire NBA in defensive efficiency. If star offensive guard, Devin Booker, is able to improve his on-ball D, he could quickly jump into the conversation as a top 3 shooting guard in the league. Except for a few front office moves, Pheonix has had a relatively quiet summer. I predict they’ll rack up a few more wins this season, but won’t be good enough to compete in the stacked Western Conference.
17-18 Record Prediction: 30-52
5. Sacramento Kings
16-17 Record: 32-50
Major Additions: De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Vince Carter, Zach Randolph, Harry Giles, Frank Mason lll, George Hill
Major Losses: Darren Collison, Arron Afflalo, Tyreke Evans, Ben McLemore, Ty Lawson, Rudy Gay, Omri Casspi, Langston Galloway, Anthony Tolliver
The Kings got their man in the 2017 Draft in Kentucky guard, De’Aaron Fox. Fox looks to be the PG for the future in Sac-town as the team continues to shift out of the Demarcus Cousins era. A backcourt consisting of Fox and Hield could turn into one of the best in the West in just a couple years. As for this year, it’s likely George Hill begins the season ahead of Fox on the depth chart. The Kings also bolster their young frontcourt, drafting Duke’s Harry Giles later in the first round. Adding Giles to the combo of Labissiere and Cauley-Stein gives Sacramento more big man potential. Along with Hill, the Kings added veterans Vince Carter and Zach Randolph. These 3 will be role models for the young talents on the team, possibly speeding up their development. The Kings appear to be on the right track after the Boogie trade, but they’ll have to take a backseat in the West this year.
17-18 Record Prediction: 29-53