2021 NBA Pacific Division Preview
Last year, BTB gave out a free play on the Pacific Division winner with like three months to go in the season. It was on the Phoenix Suns to win the division. Since you already know BTB’s skills, you know this was a winner. A +500 winner. The Suns won’t surprise anyone this year, but there are still things to consider in this division. Let’s provide a breakdown on each team and if you’re interested in the full futures package and daily NBA plays, provided by yours truly, click Buy Packages above.
Last year 2nd in conference, 1st in division, 51-21
Devin Booker comparisons to Kobe need to stop. Booker is a talented scorer and playmaker, but he isn’t a killer, and his (and CP3’s) best chance at a championship ended last season. I’m going to call this now, the Suns will not make the Western Conference Finals this year, let alone the NBA Finals. Sure, injuries could change this, but everything broke their way last year. They are currently +220 favorites to win the division, and there actually is some value there because the old-bodied Lakers are likely to not care much about the regular season aside from getting at least the fourth or higher seed. The Suns have basically the same team as last year after only adding JaVale McGee, but he is not a difference-maker. I expect them to basically have the same record as last year, maybe 52 wins, but I’m not playing their total of 51.5.
Los Angeles Clippers
Last year 4th in conference, 2nd in division, 47-25
I genuinely have no idea what the roster construction situation is with the Clippers. They traded away Lou Williams who was instant offense off the bench. They upgraded offensively with Eric Bledsoe but downgraded on defense with Patrick Beverly leaving. That was about 50 words that also remain irrelevant if their superstar, Kawhi Leonard, doesn’t come back healthy. After a partially torn ACL, the Clippers forward is progressing toward a return, but no timetable has been set. He’s sat out when healthy after injuries before on the Spurs. Paul George is primed to have a bigger season, but I think we’ve seen enough of him to realize at this stage, he isn’t going to carry a team for a full stretch. I like the Clippers under 45.5 wins this year.
Los Angeles Lakers
Last year 8th in conference, 3rd in division, 42-30
LeBron was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round for the first time ever last season. So, what did the Lakers do? They went and got everyone they could think of that was awesome 10 years ago and added them to the aging Lakers team. Russell Westbrook is a hyper player, but he needs the ball to be most useful. I don’t think he will average a triple-double this year, and I think that matters to him more than a championship. LeBron is best as a point-forward, or Davis as a point-center, it just makes matchups tougher. Westbrook is a guy that you can let shoot. If he beats you, he beats you, but you can live with it. Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, and Carmelo Anthony are good role players, if they stick to their roll. Anthony showed in Portland last season that he can still shoot, but he isn’t a difference maker any longer. Kendrick Nunn is probably the best addition outside of Westbrook in my opinion. He might surprise people quite a bit. I’m interested to see how Vogel plays his rotation, and how much emphasis the Lakers put into seeding. I can tell you this, they won’t want to be in the bottom half or in the play-in game. They struggled to get by the Warriors. 53 wins seems too high to me, but I see them going over 50 wins, certainly. But are they going to try and shoot for 60 and get that #1 seed, or just be concerned about health?
Golden State Warriors
Last year 4th in division, 39-33
The Warriors surprised a lot of people last year. This might’ve been Steph Curry’s most impressive season. For the first time, it really was him as the only real scoring option on the floor and one of the best efforts he’s put forth. Curry is dangerous from anywhere on the offensive side of the floor, but he needs help. Klay Thompson is supposed to come back at some point, but he’s been out for something like 800+ days. Andrew Wiggins is inconsistent at best, and realistically, a third option. Draymond Green is an ineffective Dennis Rodman. There isn’t much to like about this Warriors team. Jordan Poole has looked outstanding in the preseason, as has Otto Porter Jr. Both could be big players for the team with both garnering consideration for 6th man and Poole for Most Improved. The jump up for the Warriors still just seems a little high to me with the West. 47.5 games… I wouldn’t take the over, but I also didn’t expect them to be over .500 last year.
Last year 5th in division, 31-41
There are four teams that are clearly better than the Kings in their own division. If the Kings want to even smell the playoffs, they need to make it to the play-in game. I don’t think they will accomplish that. I watch the Kings and I’m not sure they know their identity. They have a couple of nice pieces (De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton) but it’s like trying to make a puzzle with a bunch of border pieces and no corners. They have no cornerstone to build around, so they are flimsy. Best case scenario, they make the play-in game, worst-case scenario, it is another season ending in a mid-range lottery pick, and Tyrese Haliburton’s development stalls out.