Discussing Sports: Past, Present, Future
We continue our Revolving Door NBA previews with the Wild Wild West’s Pacific Division. Over the past two seasons the Clippers and Warriors have been the class of the Pacific, asserting their will on their overmatched division foes. However, things are different this year. The MAMBA returns. The Phoenix Suns are relevant. And Sacramento is, well, Sacramento. If you live on the East Coast and can stay caffeinated enough to make it through these late tip-offs, you won’t regret it. Expect a fun, run and gun style of basketball to be the norm. Who has what it takes to survive the NBA marathon? Let’s take a look.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors enter this season on the heels of back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since the beginning of the 90s. This year they are hoping to make an even bigger postseason “SPLASH!” in the competitive western conference. I’d be remised to begin my analysis outside of the Splash Bros. themselves: Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Without question, these two form the purest shooting backcourt in the league. Together, they are the engine that makes this Golden State machine go, yet their production alone is not enough if they hope to achieve the ultimate glory. The 2015 Warriors are composed of the same players. David Lee, Andre Bogut and Harrison Barnes form a capable frontcourt. Last year injuries to this front line killed any hope of playoff success, it can be a different story if they can stay healthy. Yet, any change in success will come as a result of their only major offseason acquisition: Steve Kerr. A member of the TNT broadcasting crew over the past few seasons, everyone knew it was only a matter of time until Kerr found a head-coaching gig. Opting for quaint Golden State over boisterous NY, the former sharpshooter himself will be expected to win now – his roster does not lack for talent.
Best Case: Team stays healthy all year and they find themselves in the Western Conference Finals.
Worst Case: Steve Kerr is overwhelmed; injuries help the team implode to the 8th seed in the West.
Out with the old, in with the new. We all know what happened last year and it’s not even worth reiterating. The first impact of Steve Ballmer’s ownership came off the court, imposing a ‘Microsoft products only’ rule to the Clippers locker room. The ownership lunacy continues! Nonetheless, Ballmer will bring a new level of unquestioned passion and commitment to his toy, I mean investment. Lucky for him, a “hands-on” approach is not immediately necessary. The Clippers are primed to win now, they boast two of the leagues top 5 players according to ESPN’s top 100 rankings and although those rankings are non-sensical as a whole, Griffin and Paul deserve are among the leagues elite. DeAndre Jordan will continue to be an interior force and J.J Redick has proved he is more than just a shooter. Outside of that, there isn’t much else to say about the 2014-2015 Clippers, the goal is an NBA championship, simple as that. However, in a very competitive West, the execution is substantially tougher than the idea.
Best Case: Meeting one of the Beasts of the East in the NBA Finals for an epic star-studded showdown.
Worst Case: Anything less than the Western Conference Finals
As the saying goes, “This town aint big enough for the two of us.” This cliché has held true throughout the duration of my 21 years on earth. Yet, Lakers fans worldwide are still busy rejecting the notion that Los Angeles is now a Clippers town. The Lakers are staring down the barrel of another disappointing season. A healthy Kobe Bryant should help sell tickets and win games, but it’s hard to imagine anything better than a 7 or 8 seed for this rag tag group of Lakers. A healthy Black Mamba can keep the Lakers just relevant enough to land them on the edge of the Playoffs – also known as the worst destination in the NBA. Carlos Boozer is an effective addition on the front line, but he is not Pau Gasol and barely a shell of his once dominating Jazz self. Boozer can be a good mentor for first-round pick Julius Randle, but the bruising south-paw needs to refine his game a ways before becoming a force in the league. Byron Scott, a lifetime loser on the sideline will try to navigate this ship to some place of contention. If you want to hop on this bandwagon there is plenty of room, but if you’re looking for a Western Conference darling, look elsewhere.
Best Case: A lottery pick
Worst Case: Kobe’s competitive nature keeps the Lakers just relevant enough for an 8th seed.
Speaking of darlings, the entertaining and energetic Suns were one of the league’s best stories last season. The style of play Jeff Hornacek installed fits perfectly for this young, dynamic roster. In my opinion, the job he did last season deserved the Coach of the Year award. Although Phoenix arrived where no one wants to be, just shy of the playoffs, this young team’s future is shining bright in the Phoenix sun. Without a doubt they are the deepest team at the PG position, bolstering three players all capable of playing like an All-Star any given night. The three-headed monster of Dragic, Bledsoe and IT3 can keep the Suns running with fresh legs for the full 48 minutes. Beyond that, the bench is stacked with young talent, eager to get up and down the court. Gerald Green went made the jump from a dunker to a legitimate baller while nobody was looking. The Morris brothers are proving that two is better than one. And Miles Plumlee has been a revelation in the frontcourt. The only way this team could excite me any more would be a trade for Mason Plumlee. Could you imagine two sets of brothers on one NBA team!!!! I don’t care how it would impact the roster; they need to do that immediately. The Suns are the only reason you need to buy NBA League Pass this season. Expect their emergence to continue.
Best Case: 4th seed and a rocking home court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs.
Worst Case: Team takes a step backwards in development, just misses playoffs again.
The enigma of the NBA award belongs to none other than the Sacremento Kings. No one really has any idea in hell what owner Vivek Ranadive is doing over there; yet, it is assured that there is some plan in place. On paper, the plan entails what appears to be a downgrade at point guard, allowing potential cornerstone Isaiah Thomas to jump ship for the aforementioned Suns. The beat, literally and figuratively, goes on I suppose. I simply can’t see this team being much improved from its 2013-2014 self. Demarcus Cousins will be one of the league’s best big man. But we all know what we get with Boogie at this point in his career. 8th overall pick Nik Stauskas was the only other addition and his impact should be felt right away, especially and obviously from beyond the arc. What I’m most excited from the to watch is what new initiatives Ranadive will install to transform his fans in-game experience.
Best Case Scenario: I have no idea.
Worst Case Scenario: I have no idea.