Kia Season Preview 2017-18
2017-18 Season Preview: Pacific Division
More than the Pacific Division belongs to the Warriors, of course. The Western Conference does. The entire league does, for the second time in three years. The new season begins the same way the last one ended, with everyone chasing Golden State, such a favorite for the division title and so obviously looking beyond winning California and Arizona that a owning the Pacific is a starting point, not an accomplishment.
2. LA Clippers
5. Phoenix Suns
Team(s) On The Rise
Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns — A three-way tie is fair when all three have a bright future with a foundation of a young roster.
Team On The Decline
LA Clippers — It won’t be a major decline from 51 wins and it won’t be a fall out of second place, but being pressured to deal Chris Paul will hurt.
Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors — Or Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. They’re that hard to separate.
Player On The Rise
Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers — His numbers jumped in 2016-17, essentially Randle’s second season, to where averaging a double-double and shooting 50 percent is realistic in 2017-18.
Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors — Manages the strategy, handles the personalities, deals with the expectations.
Coach On The Hot Seat
Doc Rivers, LA Clippers — Expectations have changed with the departure of Chris Paul, but the Clippers still need to remain a factor in the West.
Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers — Having the basketball IQ of a veteran and several receiving targets gives the Lakers’ pass-first point guard a slight edge over Josh Jackson (Phoenix) and De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento).
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