Blog Entry

2011-12 NBA Season: Pacific Division Preview

Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:54 am
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By Matt Moore


We're less than two weeks away from the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season. After an interminable lockout and a rushed free agency period, here's a first look division-by-division preview at how the league is shaping up. We begin with the Pacific Division.

2011 Standings:

Los Angeles Lakers, 57-25, lost 4-0 to Dallas Mavericks in 2nd round of Western Conference Playoffs
Phoenix Suns, 42-42, NBA Draft lottery
Golden State Warriors,36-46, NBA Draft lottery
Los Angeles Clippers, 32-50, NBA Draft lottery
Sacramento Kings, 24-58, NBA Draft lottery

Best team: Well, see, the thing is... Chris Paul (UPDATE: TIE- LOS ANGELES LAKERS AND LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS)

Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night. Even with the Lakers unable to obtain Paul, the combination of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum is probably enough to take the honors here. But with Paul joining Blake Griffin, even without Eric Gordon, the additions of Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups and re-signing DeAndre Jordan make as tough of a team to face as any. Griffin's impact next to Chris Paul is nearly incalculable.

The Lakers may still have the edge, but after the loss of Odom, everything is up in the air as far as who runs Staples now. The reality is that Paul landing in the city of L.A. will shift the division in one direction or another for the next half-decade at least.

Worst team: Sacramento Kings

The Kings are tricky. They have a convoluted backcourt. Tyreke Evans took a step back last season and it remains to be seen if it was all injury-related or not. There's no telling how Jimmer Fredette will adjust to the pro level. Marcus Thornton will struggle for minutes despite his all-around ability. John Salmons is floating around. There were huge chemistry questions last season and the players struggled against coach Paul Westphal at times.

If things don't improve, if DeMarcus Cousins doesn't mature, if Chuck Hayes can't protect the rim enough with his diminutive stature, things could get bad. And yet...

Biggest surprise: Sacramento Kings

There's so much firepower in that backcourt. Untangling it is complicated but they have everything. Shooting, athleticism, size, range, explosiveness, savvy, handle, everything. They have too much ability to not be effective in some ways. Cousins was a beast last season and even a small amount of maturity and development means he could be a near-All-Star (in the East, the West is too stacked). They have young talented bigs and Hayes who provides savvy and veteran knowledge.

The pieces are there. They're going to be exciting, even if they're struggling with an identity.

Three Best Players: Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Chris Paul

Update: With Paul joining the division, he instantly becomes one of the three best players. The best pure point guard in the league, with excellent shooting touch, terrific defense, and a supreme will to win? He leap-frogs both Pau and Nash. 

Kobe Bryant needs no explanation, even at his age. The end.

Blake Griffin is the most explosive player in the league and the first player in a few years for people to say he could legitimately be the best player in the league at one point. His explosiveness and rebounding is unmatched, his mid-range jumper isn't lightyears away and his defense will get there. Already, Griffin is a force to be reckoned with. What happens when he gets better?

Gasol vs. Nash? Gasol was an early season MVP candidate. He is arguably the most skilled big man in the league (as opposed to Dwight Howard, the most dominant and most talented). And yet his collapse in the 2011 playoffs is the stuff of legend. It was such a complete failure at both ends, when the Lakers needed him most, it's damning. Gasol could very well be the second best player in this division this year. He could also slide back with age.

Nash? Ho-hum, another 50-40-90 season (got to round up for once, but still). His weighted assists, factoring three-pointers assisted on, left him at 13, which means combined with his 15 points per game, he contributed 41 points per game to the Suns. That's absurd. It's also not the highest in the league for a point guard, but it's still an example of how good Nash is. He's flat-out old in relative terms of the league, and yet is in the best shape he possibly could be thanks to conditioning. Nash is still elite, an therefore neither he nor Gasol can be exempted.

Biggest Question: Can Golden State change its stripes?

Mark Jackson has to completely turn what the Warriors know as their identity inside out. They have to commit to defensive principles. David Lee, Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, these players are not known for this, at all. It's going to take a miracle. If Jackson can get them to buy in and if his system is good enough, the Warriors could make a jump. Kwame Brown helps down low (don't laugh, he's become a quality defender). But there's so much to be done in terms of changing this team's indentity, the Warriors could be in for rocky seas.

2012 Projected Standings:
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Los Angeles Clippers
3. Golden State Warriors
4. Phoenix Suns
5. Sacramento Kings
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Comments

Since: Aug 11, 2008
Posted on: December 25, 2011 1:28 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Pacific Division Preview

Flip flop the L.A. teams and this looks about right. The Clippers are a top 4 team.



Since: Oct 10, 2011
Posted on: December 15, 2011 3:00 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Pacific Division Preview

I hate to disagree with anyone on the comments......but there is no way that the suns with the aging stars that they have are going to be able to compete this year. Yes Nash will still contribute as he always does. But he and Grant Hill are well past their prime. Don't overestimate the effects of age. If the suns don't make a move which they have said they won't....expect them in the last spot in the division.



Since: Jun 18, 2009
Posted on: December 15, 2011 12:12 am
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Pacific Division Preview

It's offical..... Baron Davis signs with golden state thats how you can the culture in the Bay Area



Since: Feb 9, 2007
Posted on: December 14, 2011 8:27 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Pacific Division Preview

As long as Nash is on the Suns, they will be better than the Warriors and Kings.  I'm a GS fan, but teams with the best player usually win, and Nash is still better than any player on GS or Sac.



Since: Nov 16, 2009
Posted on: December 14, 2011 7:20 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Pacific Division Preview

Sacrramento will finish ahead of phoenix and Golden State.



Since: Jul 11, 2011
Posted on: December 14, 2011 5:17 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Pacific Division Preview

glad to see the clips toiling in misery is going to finally pay its dues cp3 or not they're legit and i really hope the kings find their legs, stacked on the 1 and 2 only means they have pieces to move if need be and unlike favors, cousins seems like the type of impact player ready to mature and contribute in a healthy way really hope kings can avoid the lottery unless one more year of toiling like the clips have for so many years does them good down the road



Since: Jul 30, 2011
Posted on: December 14, 2011 5:13 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Pacific Division Preview

Blah, blah.......blah. I know that sports is free agency and has been for a long time. These articles, even now, are all about what OTHER team some player is going to go to. It's all about quitting jobs and being on the move...for a ring...for more money...whatever. The lockout goings on was a joke and so is this basketball "news". Is anybody interested in how the game is played anymore? Tactics? triangles? Or is the best that can be done is to report on requested trades etc? If so, the lockout might as well never have finished. All that's missing is a televised period revealing somebody's bid "desision".


hoobasking
Since: Dec 14, 2011
Posted on: December 14, 2011 3:27 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: May 13, 2009
Posted on: December 14, 2011 3:00 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Pacific Division Preview

The NBA is crazy if they think the Clips will give up AFA, Gordon, Bledsoe, Kaman, and the number 1 pick from Minny.  That is way too much for one player.  Even if the Clips are unable to land CP3 in this trade, they still have Billups and Bulter added into the mix now, It might not be enought to unseat the Lakers from the top spot in the west, but it gives them a better shot then they had last year.  I think if the Lakers trade Pau for CP3, it will improve their team, but not so much that it makes a huge difference, the bigger difference is if the Clips can get CP3 and KEEP Gordon, that would make for some good rivalry games at Staples.



Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: December 14, 2011 2:28 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Pacific Division Preview

Gasol was an early season MVP candidate. He is arguably the most skilled big man in the league (as opposed to Dwight Howard, the most dominant and most talented). And yet his collapse in the 2011 playoffs is the stuff of legend. It was such a complete failure at both ends, when the Lakers needed him most, it's damning. Gasol could very well be the second best player in this division this year. He could also slide back with age.
The Lakers attempts to trade Pau this year is an open inditement against his being the most skilled big man in the league. In the past Pau has shown he can play and score against nearly everyone. Now, not so much. I would wonder if LaMarcus Aldridge has already passed Gasol in the list of best Power Forwards. In the playoffs last year (money time) Gasol had a PER of 17.3 which is certainly not close to the best. Aldridge in the same playoffs also against Dalllas, had a 21.5 PER. Aldridge gobbled up about the same percentage of available rebounds and scored better offensive and defensive ratings than Gasol. Gasol scored only 0.9 win shares compared to Aldredge's 11.1 win shares. The end is coming for Gasol while Aldridge is the best player on his team (Blazers) and retains, at age 25, a great deal of upside left.


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