NBA Basketball: Western Conference’s Pacific Division Season Preview

There was a surprising amount of activity this offseason for various NBA teams. Although the Pacific Division didn’t have as much major movements, trades, or signings, as other divisions in the league, some important players were gained while others left. Let’s take a look at what teams succeeded in becoming better over the summer break.

5. Sacramento Kings
Although they still have defensive specialist Ron Artest and a solid front court made up of Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Brad Miller, they weren’t able to make any noticeable gains this offseason. Fortunately, Mike Bibby has gotten healthier over the offseason. However, the Sacramento Kings lost an important player in Bonzi Wells. They weren’t able to offer the kind of money that Bonzi Wells wanted. The Kings were not able to replace the key player and that is why they were the worst Pacific Division team this offseason.

4. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors continue to struggle in the NBA, as they have not seen a playoff appearance since the 1993-1994 season. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t get any better when they lost Derek Fisher, a point guard that helped the Los Angeles Lakers win championships several years ago. However, Don Nelson returns as coach of the Golden State Warriors next season. The last time the Warriors had Nelson, they were actually able to make it to the playoffs. Gaining a very good coach like Don Nelson could very likely offset the loss of Derek Fisher.

3. Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns had a very positive season last year so it was pretty important for them to try to stick together and only build on what they already have. That was not the case, as key player Tim Thomas left the Suns to go play with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Suns are hoping that the additions of Jumaine Jones, Eric Piatkowski, and Sean Marks will make up for that. Unfortunately, Tim Thomas had a great outside shooting stroke on top of leadership qualities which will likely not be replaced by players like Eric Piatkowski. Amare Stoudemire is finally able to play with the Suns again next season. Last season he barely played due to knee problems. However, nobody is sure just how well he will be able to play after the surgery he had.

2. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers had a rather strong offseason, as they practically lost nobody. Coming into the offseason, the Lakers were specifically looking for an outside shooter that could help stretch out the court. Fortunately, they found just the kind of guy they were looking for in Vladimir Radmanovic. The Lakers also picked up two more guards, which was also what the Lakers were trying to acquire over the offseason. Maurice Evans and rookie Jordan Farmar hope to add to the team and make the Lakers’ player rotation bigger. The only downside that happened to the Lakers this summer was actually something dealing with their future. The acquirement of Radmanovic essentially means that the Lakers will not be able to pick up any big time stars like LeBron James or Kevin Garnett for quite a while. Some believed that the Lakers were trying to find another superstar so the Lakers could have a one-two punch like they had when Shaquille O’Neal was on the team. That idea seems to no longer be the case.

1. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers gained the top spot not because of what they gained, but because of what they did not lose. Many fans of the Clippers were speculating that Sam Cassell would not re-sign with the team or Corey Maggette would leave. The Clippers, who had a very solid season for the first time in a long time last year, have been able to successfully hold onto their core players. Although Radmanovic left for the Lakers, the Clippers quickly replaced him with the Suns’ Tim Thomas. The Clippers have a very promising future ahead of them and since they have been able to keep the team together like they have, it seems like they will not be going anywhere any time soon. They are likely only going to improve next season, where they will have more confidence than ever before.

The NBA offseason was rather interesting for the Pacific Division teams, as many players left to go to teams in the same division. The Lakers and Clippers practically lost no players, while the Suns finally have Stoudemire back. Don Nelson should help strengthen the Warriors franchise, while Ron Artest will continue to get used to his new teammates in Sacramento. Overall, the future of the NBA’s Western Conference Pacific Division teams looks fairly promising.

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