To round up E2G Sport’s breakdown of each NBA division, we’ve saved the best for last with the Pacific Division. This division is home to the Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, and both LA teams, Lakers and Clippers.
And with the quality on each team, this is not only the strongest division in the Western Conference but in the whole league. Here’s what you can expect from each team this season;
The Phoenix Suns had a fantastic season last time out although it ultimately ended in disappointment. They defied the odds and made a run to the finals where mount Antetokounmpo proved too high to climb.
The Milwaukee Bucks won their first NBA championship in 50 years, downing the Phoenix Suns 105-98 in Tuesday's Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Milwaukee https://t.co/1eg4YiwDtw — CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) July 21, 2021
However, winning over 70% of their regular-season games and emerging as both divisional and conference champs has rapidly increased optimism for this season.
Their strength lies in their approach to the season as they’ve kept all key players from last season. It’s obvious coach Monty Williams wants to run it back.
But as they say in pretty much every superhero movie ever made, ”with great power comes great responsibility”. The Suns no longer have the underdog tag, they’re now expected to win, which is a different type of pressure.
Coach Monty Williams will have to dig deep into his bag of tricks to get the best out of the same group of players which is difficult because all their competitors significantly improved their rosters.
And considering they already started the season with a double-digit loss to the Denver Nuggets, the sun may just set in Phoenix.
For the first time in three years, the Clippers are not considered contenders going into a new season. And perhaps this is for their own good, Tyronne Lue can finally work out his schemes without pressure.
2021-22 LA Clippers Preview! 🎨: @odchristo I have the Clippers at 48-34 this season with a +3.6 net rating, assuming Kawhi returns at the tail end. If he’s there, I'll take Nets > Clippers in the Finals Details on the entire roster:https://t.co/yccQZKsURQ pic.twitter.com/WyDfvDJJcu — Shane Young (@YoungNBA) October 19, 2021
The obvious source of potential optimism is Paul George who is now the first option due to Kawhi Leonard’s injury. Perhaps being the go-to guy will revive the Indiana Pacers PG13 and erase PG13% we’ve grown accustomed to in LA.
But I’m clutching at straws here, Kawhi’s long-term absence can only be a weakness. There’ll be great performances from Terrence Mann and the rest of the supporting cast but it ultimately won’t be enough.
The Larry O’Brien trophy may still find its way to the Staples Centre though, via the Los Angeles Lakers. LA’s good team spent the entire offseason building a roster to do just that.
They’ve corrected the roster imbalance from last season, adding more depth especially some much-needed long-range shooting.
Their strength?… LeBron James, who has somehow found the cure for aging and still remains among the NBA’s elite at 36-years old. Complimented by Anthony Davis and the recently added Russel Westbrook, the Lakers may just be the team to beat.
The Man in the Stratosphere pic.twitter.com/vKkyo8QATM — Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 20, 2021
However, it’s not all sunny in LA, Talen Horton-Tucker is one of only three returning players from last season. That many changes in one summer mean it will take time for the new-look Lakers to gel. It was evident in their opening night loss to the Golden State Warriors.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Speaking of the Warriors, they look different to the team that lost a play-in game to the Memphis Grizzlies. They’ve started the season with consecutive wins against both LA teams and it feels like 2015 again.
Yes, I know it’s still early days but they got Andre Iguodala back and will have Klay Thompson back from injury soon, the Golden State Warriors are on the way to being good again.
Their biggest strength is obviously Steph Curry, who remains unplayable on his day as the Clippers recently learned.
So @StephenCurry30 had a night… 💎 Named to #NBA75 before tip 🔥 25 1Q points on 9-9 shooting 🔥 45 in the game 🔥 Go-ahead triple to lift @warriors pic.twitter.com/98JFwH9lsA — NBA (@NBA) October 22, 2021
The weakness is the lack of help for Steph, Andrew Wiggins is still not pulling his weight and Jordan Poole is their number two guy as it stands… Jordan Poole!!!
You know that meme with soldiers lined up and a clown behind them? That’s an accurate representation of the Division. Sacramento Kings are the clowns of the Pacific Division, they haven’t been divisional champs since 2002/03 and that’s not changing soon.
The Kings have been a lottery team for the last 15 years and still have nothing to show for it. The fact that they picked Marvin Bagley second overall in 2018 with Luka Doncic and Trae Young still available perfectly captures why they have sucked for so long.
Excel Sports’ Jeff Schwartz — the agent for Sacramento’s Marvin Bagley — weighs in on Kings’ handling of former No. 2 overall pick: https://t.co/YJ1aDxMnCO — Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 19, 2021
DeAaron Fox remains their major cause for optimism, the young guard is already one of the most productive players in the league.
Coach Luke Walton can’t be expected to be competitive when his marquee free-agent addition was Tristan Thompson.
All signs point to a 16th consecutive year in the lottery for the Sacramento Kings despite starting the season with an impressive win against the Portland Trail Blazers.