Pacific Division Edition
The 2019 NBA offseason has been one for the record books. From unexpected signings to shocking trades, it’s safe to say that the NBA has managed to captivate the sports world without even playing a single meaningful game in over a month. We have seen seven all-stars from this past season change teams. Now that things have (seemingly) calmed down, it’s time to take a look at how each team has faired this offseason.
Golden State Warriors: C
Key Additions – D’Angelo Russel, Willie Cauley-Stein, Glenn Robinson III, Omari Spellman, Alec Burks.
Key Losses – Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Demarcus Cousins, Shaun Livingston, Jordan Bell, Damian Jones, Quinn Cook,
Draft – Jordan Poole, Alen Smailagic, Erin Paschall.
For the first time in five years, the Warriors are not the odds-on favorites to win the NBA championship. The departure of Kevin Durant and unfortunate injury of Klay Thompson has set quite a few changes in motion for this team. They have lost a majority of their role players who have won multiple championships with this franchise. If D’Angelo Russel meshes well with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, then I still feel this is a very formidable team in the west. The key will be attempting to hang onto a playoff spot until they are healthy, hopefully in time for the playoffs. It’s very reasonable to see this team with a 5th-8th seed and then potentially make another deep playoff run. In addition to this, I believe Steph Curry is a strong early favorite to win another MVP award.
Los Angeles Clippers: A
Key Additions – Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Maurice Harkless.
Key Losses – Danilo Gallanari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Garrett Temple, Wilson Chandler.
Drafted – Mfiondu Kabengele, Terance Mann.
Has the phrase championship or bust ever been more accurate? The Los Angeles Clippers traded away most of their future assets and in return received two of the league’s current best players. If this does indeed bring a championship to this franchise, then it was all worth it. Unfortunately, there is a huge downside here. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard both have a significant injury history, and there are some doubts as to if either of them can stay healthy for a full season. Combine that with the fact they both have player options after the 2020-21 season, and there is potential for a disaster here. The Western Conference is stacked with multiple teams who believe they can win it all. If the Clippers fail to get a ring in the next couple of years, and Leonard and George decide to leave in the 2021 offseason, then rebuilding this franchise will be a very difficult task. Still, you have to applaud the fact they landed two of the league’s top players and have shown their fans they are willing to do whatever it takes to win a championship.
Sacramento Kings: B-
Key Additions – Trevor Ariza, Dewayne Dedmon, Cory Joseph, Richaun Holmes, Tyler Lydon.
Key Losses – Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burks, Frank Mason
Drafted – Justin James, Kyle Guy, Vanja Marinkovic.
Sacramento is a very young team that was a bit ahead of schedule with their success last season. They have a potential future All-NBA player in De-Aaron Fox who could very easily make the jump to elite point-guard this year. They inked Harrison Barnes to a long term deal and added some perimeter length with the Trevor Ariza signing. The Kings should no doubt be a better team this year but might be left on the outside looking in come playoff time.
Los Angeles Lakers: A-
Key Additions – Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Quinn Cook, Troy Daniels, Jared Dudley.
Key Losses – Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Tyson Chandler, Moritz Wagner, Mike Muscala, Reggie Bullock.
Drafted – Talen Horton-Tucker.
The battle of Los Angeles is very much something that will happen between the Lakers and Clippers this year. Both teams feel like they are a championship contender and each has their star duo. Neither of these teams wants to share the L.A. spotlight, but they do share the Staples Center, and the four games they play against each other this year will have an incredible atmosphere. The Lakers finally got their guy in Anthony Davis. When Lebron James is on your roster, the mentality will always be to win now. Most of their young assets were given up in the Davis trade, but what remains is a very solid core. They failed last year when it came to filling out the rest of their roster after Lebron James, and it remains to be seen if they have managed to do a better job of that this time around. One thing that cannot be denied though is that with the addition of The Brow this team is already miles better than they were last season. If the supporting cast can mesh together and their star duo stays healthy, then I see this team challenging for a first-round playoff series in the Staples Center.
Phoenix Suns: D+
Key Additions – Ricky Rubio, Dario Saric, Aron Baynes, Frank Kaminsky.
Key Losses – Troy Daniels, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, Kyle Korver, Richaun Holmes.
Drafted – Cameron Johnson, Ty Jerome.
Phoenix Suns fans are most likely in for another frustrating season. They made some questionable draft moves this offseason and also lost some valuable shooters from their lineup. The front office seems to be split on which way to move forward with this team. Ricky Rubio and Dario Saric do add some talent to accompany Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, but it’s presumably not going to be enough to get them out of the cellar of the Western Conference. I expect to see some growth from the second-year center, Ayton, and a lot of impressive scoring numbers from Booker, but I do not anticipate that translating to very many significant wins.