The Pacific Division has the potential to be one of the league’s most dangerous divisions. No other division boasts their star power, but for many reasons, they’ve failed to all be competitive.
The Phoenix Suns were last regular season’s most splendid team, but it was the Golden State Warriors who took home the NBA Championship in 2022. It’s easy to forget, but the Kawhi Leonard-led LA Clippers and LeBron James-led Los Angeles Lakers come into the season stacked with talent!
With a clean bill of health, the Pacific may be one of the most competitive divisions this season.
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The Suns may be facing some off-court issues this season, but that doesn’t mean that they’re lacking on the court. Their biggest advantage against the Warriors, Clippers, and Lakers this season is the fact that their team health allows for more consistency through the regular season. The talent level between these teams is almost equal.
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Coach: Steve Kerr
2021-22 Record: 53-29 (1st in Pacific, 3rd in West)
2021-22 Result: Won NBA Finals (4-2 vs. BOS)
Key Additions: (G) Donte DiVincenzo, (F) JaMychal Green
Key Losses: (G) Gary Payton II, (F) Otto Porter, (G-F) Andre Iguodala
While many counted the Golden State Warriors out last year, they showed that a clean bill of health with Stephen Curry at the lead puts them in Championship form. Now returning in hopes of defending their NBA title, the Warriors must overcome an offseason where they lost many key contributors to their Championship run.
Gary Payton Jr., Otto Porter Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damion Lee, and Nemanja Bjelica all left the Warriors this offseason. To say that their production will be missed would be an understatement. The Warriors are hoping that the likes of Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, and Donte DiVincenzo will be able to fill the void.
The Warriors will certainly be challenging for the top of the Pacific Division as well as the Western Conference. However with the Western Conference reloading with more talent, as well as returning to health, Golden State won’t go unchallenged this year.
Coach: Tyronn Lue
2021-22 Record: 42-40 (3rd in Pacific, 8th in West)
2021-22 Result: Lost in NBA Play-In (vs. MIN)
Key Additions: (G) John Wall
Key Losses: (G) Rodney Hood, (C) Isaiah Hartenstein
On paper, the LA Clippers have had a tremendous offseason. They’ve brought in an excellent lead guard while also re-signing their key players. The LA Clippers are loaded with experienced talent at almost every position, but will once again be battling to see if they’re healthy enough to compete.
Without a doubt, getting Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on to the court on a regular basis is the main goal for the LA Clippers. They also took a chance on John Wall, who has missed two of the last three seasons, in hopes that he can add a new dimension to their roster.
The LA Clippers’ less prominent players showed their value last season, despite losing both of their Play-In opportunities. Tyronn Lue is definitely one of the league’s best young coaches, but without a clear view on the team’s health it’s hard to say how competitive they’ll be.
Coach: Monty Williams
2021-22 Record: 64-18 (1st in Pacific, 1st in West)
2021-22 Result: Lost in NBA Western Conference Semifinals (3-4 vs. DAL)
Key Additions: (G) Josh Okogie, (G) Damion Lee, (C) Jock Landale
Key Losses: (C) Javale McGee, (G) Elfrid Payton, (G) Aaron Holiday
The Phoenix Suns failed in their attempt to return to the NBA Finals last post-season. They finished the season as the league’s top team, but struggled to maintain their quality when they reached the Western Conference Semifinals. After re-signing DeAndre Ayton, Phoenix are aiming to show that they’re still one of the league’s best contenders.
After losing some guard depth and a veteran presence in the paint, the Warriors looked to improve their defence and shooting by bringing in Damion Lee and Josh Okogie. Overall, their offseason acquisitions aren’t as crucial as their internal development.
Talent and coaching shouldn’t be an issue for the Suns. However with the controversy surrounding owner Robert Sarver, Phoenix’s organization is in a bit of disarray. If you’re just looking at the talent on their roster though, they’re still projected as one of the Western Conference’s best.
Coach: Darvin Ham
2021-22 Record: 33-49 (4th in Pacific, 11th in West)
2021-22 Result: Failed to qualify for NBA Playoffs
Key Additions: (G) Patrick Beverly, (C) Thomas Bryant, (G) Dennis Schroeder
Key Losses: (F) Carmelo Anthony, (C) Dwight Howard, (F) Stanley Johnson
By the standards set by the quality of their roster, the Los Angeles Lakers were absolutely dreadful last season. After an offseason of house cleaning, including bringing in a new head coach, the Lakers look set to get back in the playoff race.
While the Lakers are still trying to figure out team balance, they brought in a number of excellent players to boost their talent level. Patrick Beverly, Thomas Bryant, and Dennis Schroder are all excellent players who should thrive with the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis flanking them.
The Los Angeles Lakers were in the bottom third of the league in both offensive and defensive rating last season. Whether or not their role players can help their aging and ailing stars raise their game will determine whether or not they can compete for the division crown.
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Coach: Mike Brown
2021-22 Record: 30-52 (5th in Pacific, 12th in West)
2021-22 Result: Failed to qualify for NBA Playoffs
Key Additions: (G) Matt Dellavedova, (G) Kevin Huerter, (G) Malik Monk
Key Losses: (G) Donte DiVincenzo, (G) Jeremy Lamb, (G) Justin Holiday
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) September 16, 2022
The Sacramento Kings continue to be one of the league’s most disappointing franchises. From the outset, they don’t expect to be challengers for the division crown. It has however become quite clear that head coach Mike Brown has a vision for the Kings with their offseason acquisitions.
Despite finishing in the bottom third of the Western Conference last year, the Kings made progressive moves by acquiring veteran point guard Matt Dellavedova, as well as shooters Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk.
Now with All-Star Domantas Sabonis leading the way, the Kings may not be as far off from competing as many think. There’s still the matter of their on-court efficiency to solve, but they certainly have one of their more interesting rosters in recent seasons.
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
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