TRI: Pacific Division 2010-11

November 4, 2010
Truman Reed

Western Conference: Pacific | Northwest | Southwest
Eastern Conference: Atlantic |   Central   | Southeast


PACIFIC DIVISION

Bucks.com's Truman Reed projects the standings of every division in the NBA. He leads off his predictions with the Pacific Division. Teams are listed according to projected divisional finishes:


Los Angeles Lakers
2009-10: 57-25 (won division title, NBA championship)

For Starters: G Kobe Bryant (27.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 5.0 apg), G Derek Fisher (7.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.5 apg), F Ron Artest (11.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.0 apg), F Pau Gasol (18.3 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.7 rpg), C Andrew Bynum (15.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.5 bpg)

In the Rotation: G Shannon Brown, F Lamar Odom, G Steve Blake, G Sasha Vujacic, F Luke Walton

Pluses: F Matt Barnes (free agent, Magic), G Steve Blake (free agent, Clippers), C Theo Ratliff (free agent, Bobcats)

Minuses: G Jordan Farmar (free agent, Nets)

Truman's Take: The additions of LeBron James and Chris Bosh in Miami and the hype that has gone with it will only intensity Bryant's drive to repeat as a champion. The Lakers didn't do a lot to alter their 2010 roster, though Blake should provide valuable stability as a backup point. Provided Bynum stays healthy and none of his teammates go down, the Lakers win it all again.


Phoenix Suns
2009-10: 54-28 (second in division; lost to Los Angeles Lakers 4-2 in Western Conference finals)

For Starters: G Steve Nash (16.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 11.0 apg), G Jason Richardson (15.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.8 apg), F Grant Hill (11.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.4 apg), F Hedo Turkoglu (11.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 4.1 apg), C Robin Lopez (8.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.0 bpg)

In the Rotation: F/C Channing Frye, F Hakim Warrick, F/G Josh Childress, G Goran Dragic, F/G Jared Dudley

Pluses: F Turkoglu (trade, Raptors), F Josh Childress (trade, Hawks), F Hakim Warrick (trade, Bulls), rookie G Matt Janning (free agent), rookie F Gani Lawal (free agent), rookie C Garret Siler (free agent)

Minuses: F Amare Stoudemire (trade, Knicks), G Leandro Barbosa (trade, Raptors)

Truman's Take: Life without Stoudemire will put Phoenix to the test. No one will shoulder more added responsibility than Lopez, who now becomes the team's primary post presence. Nash, with his passing wizardry, will get the most out of the talent on hand, but whether that talent is enough for Phoenix to prevent slippage remains to be seen.


Los Angeles Clippers

2009-10: 29-53 (third in division; did not make playoffs)

For Starters: G Eric Gordon (16.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.0 apg),G Baron Davis (15.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 8.0 apg), F Rasual Butler (11.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.4 apg), F Blake Griffin (rookie), C Chris Kaman (18.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.2 bpg)

In the Rotation: F Ryan Gomes, C DeAndre Jordan, F Craig Smith, G Randy Foye

Pluses: rookie F Al-Farouq Aminu (Georgia Tech), G Randy Foye (free agent), F Ryan Gomes (free agent), rookie G Willie Warren (Oklahoma), rookie G Eric Bledsoe (Kentucky)

Minuses: F Drew Gooden (free agent, Bucks)

Truman's Take: Much has been made about the NBA arrival of John Wall, the Washington Wizards' rookie guard out of Kentucky. But the best and most pro-ready rookie in the league will be Griffin, who missed all of last season with a stress fracture in his left knee. He will quickly provide a perfect complement to first-year coach Vinny Del Negro's returning cast of starters and will become the Clippers' best player in a short period of time.


Sacramento Kings
2009-10: 25-57 (fifth in division; did not make playoffs)

For Starters: G Beno Udrih (12.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 4.7 apg), G Tyreke Evans (20.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.8 apg), F Carl Landry (16.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 0.8 apg), F Francisco Garcia (8.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.8 apg), C DeMarcus Cousins (rookie)

In the Rotation: F Omri Casspi, F/C Jason Thompson, F Donte Greene, F/G Antoine Wright

Pluses: rookie C Cousins (Kentucky), C Samuel Dalembert (trade, 76ers), rookie C Hassan Whiteside (Marshall), G Luther Head (free agent)

Minuses: C Spencer Hawes (trade, 76ers), F Andres Nocioni (trade, 76ers)

Truman's Take: Once he gains some maturity, Cousins should emerge as one of the NBA's premier all-around frontline players. While the Kings wait for that to happen, look for Milwaukee native Landry, acquired during a trade with Houston last season, to step forward as a team leader. 2009-10 NBA Rookie of the Year Evans should have an even greater impact in his second pro season.


Golden State Warriors
2009-10: 26-56 (fourth in division; did not make playoffs)

For Starters: G Monta Ellis (25.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.2 spg), G Stephen Curry (17.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 5.9 apg), F David Lee (20.2 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 3.6 apg), F Dorell Wright (7.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.3 apg), C Andris Biedrins (5.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg)

In the Rotation: G Charlie Bell, F Louis Amundson, C Dan Gadzuric, F Vladimir Radmanovic, F Ekpe Udoh

Pluses: F Lee (trade, Knicks), F Wright (free agent), F Amundson (free agent), Bell (trade, Bucks), Gadzuric (trade, Bucks), rookie F Udoh (Baylor), G Rodney Carney (free agent)

Minuses: G Corey Maggette (trade, Bucks), G Kelenna Azubuike (trade, Knicks), F Anthony Randolph (trade, Knicks), F Ronny Turiaf (trade, Knicks), G C.J. Watson (free agent, Bulls), G Anthony Morrow (free agent, Nets)

Truman's Take: The Warriors will be much-improved at the `4' spot with the acquisition of Lee, who blossomed into an NBA All-Star last season. Unless Biedrins, who played just 33 games last season, can return to his health and form of 2008-09, Lee will have to shoulder an awfully heavy load up front. Udoh could eventually bring needed athleticism, scoring and defense to the frontline. How the Warriors respond to first-year head coach Keith Smart, who succeeded Don Nelson, the NBA's all-time winningest coach, will be a point of interest.