Hardwood and Hollywood

NBA Season Preview 2017-18: Pacific Division

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

NOTABLE NEWCOMERS

The newbie I’m most looking forward to seeing is Milos Teodosic because of his seemingly legendary court vision, at least it was so internationally. How will it translate to the NBA? Teodosic was voted the best non-NBA player by NBA GMs, so there has to be some validity to how good of a player he is. So far in the preseason, it looks like Lob City won’t die with the departure of Chris Paul, as Teodosic is able to find his new teammates quite easily. Now, if only he could play defense.

The Lakers have a trio of players to look out for in rookies, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, and new man in the middle, Brook Lopez. Lopez is a proven 20-point scorer in the league, but will he get enough iso plays and/or continue his downtown stroke in his new digs? A native Californian, Lopez will roll with it and take what is given. However, he’ll be a free agent after the season, so it may be a good idea to get his to earn a new contract. Kuzma has been the Lakers darling during this preseason and rightly so as he’s been putting some numbers, numbers which many Lakers fans lament is the type of production they expected of Brandon Ingram. Ball is the unequivocal star of the new Lake Show for many reasons that every observer of basketball knows about already. If you don’t know, just look up Lavar Ball and Magic Johnson, as both seem to be in a competition to see who could be more hyperbolic.

Two rookies enter the fray, both being the new hopes of their respective franchises. De’Aaron Fox was drafted high by the Kings and the fanbase roared with excitement. Then they signed George Hill, and they and the NBA-loving public scratched their head. Hopefully, the Kings let Fox do his thing and not stunt his growth in any way. The other rookie is Josh Jackson with the Suns. Of course, Booker and Bledsoe are still the top dogs in Phoenix, but Jackson could end up being the main man in a few seasons because of his overall skill set, especially on the defensive end.

Not a newcomer per se, but Nick Young has brought his skills and personality up north to the Golden State Warriors, joining a group of adept perimeter shooters just like him; and Javale McGee, a goofball just like him. The duo should become mandatory watching this season.

X-FACTORS

Golden State Warriors
The only X-Factor for the Dubs is health. If they stay healthy, they’ll win the NBA title again. If they don’t, honestly, they may still win the title, but of course it will depend on who’s out, for how long, and when. Other than that, they should get the polish ready.

Los Angeles Clippers
The aforementioned Teodosic. At 6’5″ he is able to play the 2-guard position, which is fortunate because of the injury to Austin Rivers. Before the injury, the thought process was that Patrick Beverley would start at the 1 because of his ability to defend. But, now, it’s very possible he and Teodosic share the backcourt, getting best of both worlds, offensively and defensively. Expect highlights at least once a week from Teodosic.

Los Angeles Lakers
Can Lavar Ball handle all of the expectations heaped on him? Will Lakers fans have any patience for him to make his mistakes and grow as a player OR will they want immediate results and play it hot and cold with Ball? Expectations can be a bitch.

Phoenix Suns
Will Marquese Chriss take a jump forward and help the Suns establish that they have talent someplace else besides the guard positions? After the All-Star Break, Chriss averaged 12.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.2 threes (36.0%) while shooting 49.8 percent from the floor, as well as 1.4 blocks in 26.9 minutes per game. Chriss is on the verge of breaking out.

Sacramento Kings
Is it a youth movement or a “one last hurrah” sort of deal here in Sacramento? The X-Factor here is what direction the team decides to go in. I vote they let the youngins mess up.

BOLD PREDICTIONS

Golden State Warriors
If everyone stays healthy and minutes are dispersed efficiently, we could see 75 wins.

Los Angeles Clippers
Teodosic becomes the rookie point guard in Los Angeles that everyone is talking about.

Los Angeles Lakers
Lopez plays himself into the Lakers re-signing him, Ingram is a certifiable bust, Paul George states he’ll re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder because of Russell Westbrook having done the same, and the fanbase gets even more pissed when D’Angelo Russell is selected as an All-Star. Maybe none of these things are that bold, actually.

Phoenix Suns
Chriss and Josh Jackson show signs of becoming the forward equivalent of Booker and Eric Bledsoe, creating high expectations for next season.

Sacramento Kings
The team makes a solid decision on their direction and becomes competent. That and Harry Giles looks like a steal when healthy.

ALL-DIVISION TEAM

PG: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
SG: Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
SF: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
PF: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
C: DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers

PREDICTED STANDINGS

1. Golden State Warriors (70-12)
2. Los Angeles Clippers (50-32)
3. Sacramento Kings (35-47)
4. Los Angeles Lakers (33-49)
5. Phoenix Suns (30-52)

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Dennis Velasco (AKA DV) has contributed a lot of content throughout the Internet over the past several years - SB Nation, ESPN/TrueHoop, SI, SLAM, Yahoo! Sports, BuzzFeed, and The New York Times Company among others. DV is the Publisher of Hardwood and Hollywood.

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