The 2019 offseason was one of the craziest in league history. You can thank the teams in the Pacific Division for a lot of that.
The Los Angeles Clippers swung for the fences by acquiring superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Los Angeles Lakers completed a blockbuster trade to acquire dominant big man Anthony Davis. The Golden State Warriors lost Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets, but they acquired All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell to soften the blow.
The Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns each made smaller moves to continue their rebuilds. However, they are still clearly behind the other three teams at the top of this division.
Pacific Division Team Previews
Los Angeles Clippers (Best odds: -150 at BetOnline & SportsBetting)
The Clippers are the NBA title favorite for the 2019-20 season. However, I don’t have them completely cakewalking through a stingy Western Conference during the regular season. Los Angeles will need to integrate two very ball-dominant, high-usage players in Leonard and George into the lineup. Both guys also do have nagging injuries that the team will need to manage throughout the season.
Ultimately, the Clippers will still be a very strong contender for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, though. Leonard, George, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, a collection of decent role players and head coach Doc Rivers is a fantastic recipe for success.
- Record prediction: 54-28
Los Angeles Lakers (Best odds: +225 at BetOnline & SportsBetting)
The Lakers are another Los Angeles team with some adjustments to make. When LeBron James has teamed up with star big men in Chris Bosh and Kevin Love in the past, both guys radically moved their games toward spot-up shooting to accommodate James’ ball-dominance.
Will the same thing happen with Anthony Davis? I’m not sure, but this squad’s potential is still very tantalizing. Not only do you have LeBron and Davis, you have DeMarcus Cousins trying to rehab his value and spot-up shooters in Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma, Troy Daniels, Quinn Cook, Avery Bradley and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who have the chance to get a lot of open looks.
Los Angeles’ perimeter defense is definitely a concern, especially against point guards, but the Lakers’ talent is just too hard to ignore.
- Record prediction: 53-29
Golden State Warriors (Best odds: +400 at BetOnline & SportsBetting)
The Warriors have represented the Western Conference in the last five NBA Finals and have averaged 64.4 regular wins per season over that span. Their reign of terror is now over, with the departures of Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and other role players, as well as Klay Thompson’s ACL tear that will keep him out for most of the 2019-20 season.
Golden State did bring in D’Angelo Russell and Willie Cauley-Stein, but there are some big problems on the wing until Thompson returns. The team will likely experiment with Alfonzo McKinnie, Alec Burks and Jordan Poole in various lineups, but this team will definitely have to rely heavily on Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Russell until Thompson returns.
Ultimately, Thompson’s return will bolster the squad. However, I have serious questions about the fit of Russell both before and after his return, and the quality of wings on the roster.
- Record prediction: 47-35
Sacramento Kings (Best odds: +5000 at BetOnline & SportsBetting)
Sacramento made a big step forward last season behind big improvements from backcourt members De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield. The squad just couldn’t hang, though, down the playoff stretch as its more experienced teams found another level and pulled away in the standings.
Unfortunately, I don’t know if the Kings made enough moves in the offseason to keep their upward trajectory. Acquired veterans Cory Joseph, Trevor Ariza and Dewayne Dedmon will improve the defense, but none of them are good offensive players.
All in all, the Kings might be the team most affected by being in the Western Conference. The squad is building a nice young core, but the other teams in the conference are just a little better and more experienced.
- Record prediction: 35-47
Phoenix Suns (Best odds: +25000 at BetOnline & SportsBetting)
It feels like we say this every year, but the Suns just aren’t experienced or talented enough to contend for a playoff spot yet.
Signing point guard Ricky Rubio to a three-year, $51 million deal does fill a position of need, but he is a below-average starting point guard and probably doesn’t deserve $17 million per year. The rest of the roster doesn’t have much experience.
On the plus side, for adding vets like Rubio, Dario Saric, Aron Baynes and Frank Kaminsky, the team will have some steady play that will increase their 19-win total from last season. On the negative, any team with Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton and Rubio as its best three players is not going to win many games in the Western Conference.
- Record prediction: 26-56
Our Preview’s Pacific Division Picks & Predictions Verdict
The Clippers, Lakers and Warriors are all going to be teams that look a lot better in April than in October or November. All three will likely prioritize health over getting a specific seed in the Western Conference. That makes this a tough division to choose for a bet, though I think it’s fair to eliminate the Kings and Suns from contention.
However, I think the Lakers are a good betting choice at +225 with BetOnline or SportsBetting, both US oddssetters you can trust. Their roster is just about as good as the Clippers’, but their odds are considerably longer. The Warriors’ chemistry between Stephen Curry and Draymond Green will help them, but integrating lots of other new players will keep them from really taking off. If one of LeBron James or Anthony Davis is off their game or sitting out, DeMarcus Cousins might be able to hit the All-NBA level he was at a couple of seasons ago.