Welcome to the sixth and final of my NBA Division previews, the final stop being the Pacific division. If you haven’t followed me by now, what are you doing? Click on this link and follow me or I will hurt an innocent puppy. Maybe I’m joking but do you want to take that chance? If you wanna catch up, check out the links below and as world famous plumber, Super Mario would say, “Let’s a-go!”
2018-19 Season Finish: 5th in division, 15th in conference
2019-20 Predicted Finish: 5th in division, 15th in conference
Ceiling: In all honesty, I think it’s the Suns or the Grizz at the bottom so I guess their ceiling is 14th.
Realistic Finish: See ceiling.
Star In The Making: It may seem obvious but he hasn’t made an all-star team yet so he qualifies; Devin Booker is already one of the best scorers in the league. Not only that but he showed some true playmaking potential last season, averaging around 7 assists a game, although that’ll go down with Rubio in town. If D-Book can get the Suns out of the basement in the West, then he absolutely deserves to be an all-star.
Under The Radar: During his time with the Wiz, Kelly Oubre Jr, aka the target of Dwight Howard’s affection was always considered a guy with huge potential. As soon as he was traded to PHX, his numbers jumped, averaging 17 points, 5 boards, 1.5 steals and 1 block a game in 29 minutes a game. With him being projected as the starting SF and an increase in minutes on offer, look for those numbers to get another bump.
Make Or Break: As a Hornets fan, I was very sad to see Kemba Walker leave, and a little sad to see Jeremy Lamb go as well. One player I was happy to see gone is Frank Kaminsky. That’s ‘former college player of the year and the man who MJ turned down SIX FUCKING DRAFT PICKS from Boston for’ Frank Kaminsky. Yeah, I’m not bitter. In all seriousness, that shit isn’t his fault but his awful play at the NBA level definitely is his fault. I’m surprised a team picked him up and if I had to predict, unless he really steps his game up, this will be Kaminsky’s last NBA contract.
Anything Else?: Maybe I’m being harsh on the Suns but I don’t think they’re ready to make a leap yet. But, bringing in Monty Williams on a multi-year deal is a step in the right direction. With some consistency on the coaching/management level, maybe the players can start developing consistently as well.
2018-19 Season Finish: 3rd in division, 9th in conference
2019-20 Predicted Finish: 4th in division, 10th in conference
Ceiling: Would I be surprised to see the Kings make the playoffs? Yes. But is it entirely unfathomable? No. I think 7-8th seed is absolute ceiling though.
Realistic Finish: Anywhere from 9th to 12th. The West is THAT tough.
Star In The Making: I’m gonna cheat here and choose both De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield. This is one of the best and most exciting backcourts in the entire NBA. Buddy was one of only two people to average at least 20 points and 5 boards a game while shooting at least 42% from 3. The other guy? Just some non-hall of famer by the name of Steph Curry. So that’s pretty good company. Now, Fox was always predicted for big things but not this quickly. His points jumped from 10 to 17 per game, his assists were up around 7 and he also became a solid 3-point shooter, hitting 37% from deep. Not to mention, he is one of the quickest dudes in the entire league. This is a fun backcourt and barring any monumental screw-ups, should be for years to come.
Under The Radar: The guy with the name so nice, you say it twice, Bogdan Bogdanovic doesn’t get as much recognition as he probably deserves for two reasons; he comes off the bench and he plays in Sacramento. But he arguably could’ve been in the 6th man race last season, particularly because the Clips had two guys nominated which is fucked up as you can’t have two 6th men. That’s not how it works. Anyway, Bogdan² is great, with per 36m numbers of 20 points, 5 boards and 5.5 assists while shooting 36% from deep.
Make Or Break: I’m gonna go outside the box here and choose Vlade and Vivek, the Kings General Manager and
owner (add shitty PC title because we can’t say owner despite him LITERALLY owning the team here) respectively. I have given them their fair share of shit over the years for stupid moves on top of stupid moves on top of stupid moves. However, things are looking up; they have some great pieces and an underrated coach in Luke Walton who I feel unfairly got the shaft last season (or as it is more commonly known in the NBA, was LeBron’s coach.) It’s up to Vivek and Vlade to continue to build on this team and not fuck it up.
Anything Else?: I love the Buddy Hield extension. In fact, if you asked me which wing I’d rather have for $115m out of Buddy Hield and Jaylen Brown, my answer is Buddy with no hesitation. Yes, he is older than Jaylen but do you know what else he is? Better. He is better than Jaylen Brown.
Golden State Warriors
2018-19 Season Finish: 1st in division, 1st in conference
2019-20 Predicted Finish: 3rd in division, 5th in conference
Ceiling: I mean, it’s fair to say that the Lakers and Clippers are going to “load manage” throughout this season so it isn’t entirely crazy to say the Dubs could finish in the top 4 in the West.
Realistic Finish: I think anywhere from 5th to 8th is realistic for the Dubs. Anybody who is picking them to not make the playoffs is a hater or thinks Steph isn’t a HOFer.
Star In The Making: Maybe it’s weird that I am picking a guy who only averaged 6 points and 5 boards a game last season to be a “star”, but Kevon Looney was an important piece for the Dubs and if you don’t think that, you probably go to Facebook for your NBA content. His per 36m numbers (my new favourite stat to use) were 13 points, 11.5 boards and 3.5 assists. While he isn’t as good defensively as Draymond (although he is no slouch), his numbers hint at Draymond-lite potential.
Under The Radar: Another weird choice here considering their depth inside, but Willie Cauley-Stein could possibly turn some heads in Golden State. He had a decent season last season, a great first half then cooled off considerably. He was healthy, playing in 81 games and averaged just under a double double. He has some work to do defensively but learning under Draymond can only benefit him.
Make Or Break: Logic says I should put Marquese Chriss here but he is trash so I will go with someone who played trash, but I have hope for and that is the Little Big Dog himself, Glenn Robinson III. He showed some promise in Indiana a couple of seasons ago and if nothing else, was always a good 3-point shooter but he just turned to shit last year in Detroit. Like, he was garbage. Now he has a chance to start on a team that made guys like Pat McCaw and Alfonzo McKinnie look good (I think the latter actually has skills) so if he can’t make it work here, it won’t work anywhere.
Anything Else?: It is undeniable that the Dubs D will be trash this season. No Klay for at least a while, possibly all year, and no defense inside means teams will score a lot of points on them. However, I think this offense is going to be great, and it may be strange to say considering KD is…well, KD, but I think D’Angelo is a better fit offensively and is going to surprise some naysayers this season.
Los Angeles Lakers
2018-19 Season Finish: 4th in division, 10th in conference
2019-20 Predicted Finish: 2nd in division, 4th in conference
Ceiling: If LeBron and AD played all 82 games, the 1st seed is well within reach, but that’s a big if.
Realistic Finish: I think anywhere from 3rd to 6th in the conference is realistic. It all depends on how many loads Bron needs to manage and how healthy AD is.
Star In The Making: He is the most overrated player on Lakers Twitter since Ingram was traded, and possibly one of the most underrated players by everyone else on Twitter, but I think Kyle Kuzma finds himself somewhere in the middle, except when it comes to stealing Ben Simmon’s girl, then he’s 1st Team All Steal Yo Girl (alternatively, Simmons is 1st Team All Cuck). Kuzma is an effective scorer, despite struggling from deep last season (although he didn’t struggle in going deep…on models…okay I’ll stop now), and is also an underrated rebounder and passer. His defense needs some work but with AD or Dwight behind him (giggity), it won’t be as important as last season.
Under The Radar: He has already been crowned as the King of the NBA by NBA Twitter, but Alex Caruso probably still has to prove to the casuals how good he really is. A pretty effective scorer in limited minutes last season, the Bald Mamba is also a pretty good rebounder for his position, and a good, but not great passer. He also owns arguably the best putback dunk of all last season.
Make Or Break: When he isn’t busy getting terrible haircuts or eyeing up Kelly Oubre, Dwight Howard is known as one of the biggest whiners in the NBA, which has gotten him a lot of (deserved) hate in pretty much every stop he has made. After only playing 9 games last season, Dwight has a lot to prove and will attempt to do it on a fully non-guaranteed contract. I’ve said it a few times in these columns but this might be the closest thing to a players last chance out of all of them.
Anything Else?: I challenge anybody to find me something more annoying than Lakers fans on Twitter….that’s all I got…
Los Angeles Clippers
2018-19 Season Finish: 2nd in division, 8th in conference
2019-20 Predicted Finish: 1st in division, 2nd in conference
Ceiling: 1st seed. Title or bust.
Realistic Finish: I mean, PG is out for a while and Kawhi is gonna get a lot of rest during the season so it’s entirely possible that the Clips finish 4th or 5th, but realistically, this team is good and deep (like Kuzma on Kendall Jenner, giggity) and should more than likely be a top 3 team in the West.
Star In The Making: Maybe I am being presumptuous considering he has only played one season, but I think Landry Shamet is the goods. He actually doesn’t do much other than shoot but Jesus H. Christ, he does it so well. Think about this. He shot around 42% last season with no real stars for the defense to focus on. Now, he will have Kawhi AND Paul motherfucking George. Shamet is going to shoot like 55% from 3 this season with all of the open looks he is going to be getting.
Under The Radar: A benchwarmer for two seasons, Ivica Zubac finally started to get a run for the Lakers last season, due to them having only one other center, whose name was JaVale McGee (until James Jones did LeBron a favour and just released Tyson Chandler instead of…I dunno…trading him? Then Magic took a page out of Eddie Murphy’s book…no he didn’t pick up a transvestite hooker, he asked Zubacca “what have you done for me lately?” and just gave the motherfucker to the Clippers. For nothing. Zubac had a reputation as being a completely horrid defender but if you go by analytics (eww, gross word. Fuck analytics. Gimme the eye test), everything actually points to him being a very good interior defender. Add to that the fact that he is already a solid rebounder and has shown nice touch around the rim, and Zoobs (one of these nicknames will stick) could be the legit starting C the Clips didn’t know they had.
Make Or Break: Let’s be honest here, if Doc Rivers doesn’t win the title with a team that has the best defensive point guard, a two-time Finals MVP, the third place getter in the MVP race, and something that has never been done before…TWO SIXTH MEN…not a sixth and seventh man but TWO SIXTH MEN, then he shouldn’t be coaching here. As I mentioned above, it’s title or bust for Doc and the Clips.
Anything Else?: If the Clips do win it all, it’ll mean one less team in the group my poor Hornets fall into; no NBA titles. I swear to god, if we are the last one left in that group…well, I won’t do anything but boy, will I be disappointed in my team.
Well, that’s all for my NBA Season Previews. Thanks for reading along and never forget; baby turtles and alligators may seem like a good idea for a pet…but they grow up.