Sleeping giants not expected to make waves in the Pacific.
The changing of the guard in the Pacific Division was completed last year.
What formerly was the birthright of the Los Angeles Lakers for years has now been a battle royal featuring the Los Angeles Clippers and the Golden State Warriors.
These teams provided plenty of exciting moments in last season’s playoff series. The Suns, Lakers and Kings are all in various modes of rebuilding – don’t expect a lot of playoff teams in this division.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers, aka Lob City, were one of the most entertaining and newsworthy teams in the NBA last year, winning 57 games (a franchise record) a year after winning 56. The Pacific division crown, which they’ve won two straight years, will go through them again this year.
They beat the Warriors in a thrilling first round series before succumbing to the Thunder in the Western Conference Semifinals. This team is absolutely loaded with offensive talent.
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are one the most exciting duos in all sports. DeAndre Jordan was a revelation last year and gave them a defensive presence in addition to nightly double-digit scoring.
Coach Doc Rivers uses shooters like J.J Reddick and defensive stalwart Matt Barnes with equal aplomb. They have an award-winning sixth man in Jamal Crawford and that’s just the surface of a deep bench which includes Glen Davis, Ekpe Udoh, Hedo Turkoglu and new additions Jordan Farmar and Spencer Hawes.
They let Darren Collison and Ryan Hollins depart in either trade or free agency. Did they do enough in the offseason?
They didn’t really put together a pursuit of either LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. Perhaps their biggest move was jettisoning controversial owner Donald Sterling, who had been a black cloud over the team for years, for new owner Steve Ballmer.
This team has the guns to beat the Spurs and Thunder but can they overcome some mistakes in clutch moments. That’s the question for Chris Paul and this team.
50 wins for this club without breaking a sweat—but expectations are NBA Finals or bust.
The BetBright Verdict
52-30 (1st in the Pacific Division) – We have them priced as third favourites in the betting for the Western Conference at 5/1 and 17/2 fifth favourites for the season outright.
Opening Game: The Clippers start the 2014-15 season at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder @ 3:30am UK time, on Friday, October 31st.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors came awfully close to securing the services of Kevin Love only to have the deal stall on the inclusion of Klay Thompson in a trade with Minnesota. When the Cavaliers signed LeBron it put in motion a series of events that kept Golden State out of the Love sweepstakes.
Other than that, this 51-win squad had an uneventful offseason, with the exception of firing coach Mark Jackson for Steve Kerr. They lost a really close series with their rival Los Angeles Clippers and want to avoid a letdown.
Offensively they are led by Steph Curry who is the best shooter and a top three scorer in the NBA, averaging 24 points a game. The aforementioned Thompson played a great second fiddle, as he averaged 18 and also shot 42% from downtown.
Their starting five is rounded out by longtime Warrior David Lee, an underrated rebounder and scorer; center Andrew Bogut and wingman Andre Igoudala. These three players’ defensive skills balance the offensive prowess of their backcourt quite nicely.
Gone are the days when playing the Warriors meant easy bucket after easy bucket. They did add Shaun Livingston from the Nets to a bench that includes big man Marreese Speights, Harrison Barnes and Brandon Rush.
This team hopes that Steve Kerr, who meshes better with management than Mark Jackson, can get creative to expand the offense even more.
They have go to solidify team chemistry as Jackson was beloved in the locker room but they should be in the hunt all season and can threaten the hated Clippers for the division crown.
The BetBright Verdict
46-36 (2nd in the Pacific Division) – We have them priced as fifth favourites in the betting for the Western Conference at 12/1.
Opening Game: The Warriors start the 2014-15 season on the road against the Sacramento Kings @ 3:00am UK time, on Thursday, October 30th.
The Suns were probably the most surprising team in the Western Conference last season, slapping together 48 wins one year after winning half that, under new coach Jeff Hornacek, a beloved former Sun player himself.
A team that was unnoticed after trading Steve Nash, found that guards Eric Bledsoe and “The Dragon” Goran Dragic, were more than capable of filling the stat sheet night-in and night-out.
They did lose Bledsoe and big man Channing Frye to the Magic in the offseason, but added explosive guard Isaiah Thomas to an already good backcourt. They drafted Tyler Ennis and T.J Warren to add depth to their fast-paced offense that included a rejuvenated Gerald Green and the Morris twins (Markeith and Marcus).
The Suns’ defense will be anchored by center Miles Plumlee who needs to continue to provide blocks and rebounds in the offensive-minded Western Conference.
Like fellow surprise team Toronto in the East, the young Suns won’t be sneaking up on anybody this year. There will probably be some regression as other upstart teams in the West have gotten better.
On the pro side, the Suns didn’t benefit from a full season of Eric Bledsoe, who could be wanting to prove he’s worthy of a sought-after long-term contract. With the Run-and-Gun style of basketball they play, there will be some interesting and entertaining basketball played in the Valley of the Sun in 2014-15.
Can they make the playoffs in a deep West? It might be too tall an offer for a team that again, needs to make stops.
The BetBright Verdict
41-41 (2nd in the Pacific Division) – We have them priced as ninth favourites in the betting for the Western Conference at 12/1.
Opening Game: The Suns start the 2014-15 season at home against the Los Angeles Lakers @ 3:00am UK time, on Thursday, October 30th.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers season begins and ends with number 24, Kobe Bryant.
Bryant, who was injured for most of last year sat and watched the once-proud Lakers finish with a winning percentage of .329- a feat last accomplished in 1960, when they were the Minneapolis Lakers. They should be better without a doubt in 2015 but playoffs are hardly an automatic even with a healthy Bryant.
The Lake Show didn’t really address needs in the offseason missing out on big stars LeBron James, Kevin Love or Carmelo Anthony to pair with Kobe. They did add Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis—all middling talents.
They lost Jodie Meeks but drafted Julius Randle who could be a future star for them. They still have an aging Steve Nash and there are reports that Kobe has regained form –but he is 36 years old.
New coach Byron Scott will need to coax a better performance out of former All-Star Boozer, who has basically chased out of Chicago. They got more bad news with an injury to Nick Young, a hometown guy, who averaged 17.9 points per game, primarily coming off the bench for them last year. Young should be back by January.
Time may be running out on former top five pick swingman Wesley Johnson who hasn’t exactly progressed in four seasons. He will see more minutes due to the Young injury and would benefit greatly playing alongside a healthy Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers could easily see a ten game swing in the win column running Byron Scott’s Princeton offense. Jeremy Lin can thrive in such an attack; he may push Nash for the starting point guard gig.
Either way, a return of Kobe means this team will be better on offense than defense but not improved enough to really make noise in the West.
The BetBright Verdict
31-51 (4th in the Pacific Division) – We have them priced as ninth favourites in the betting for the Western Conference at at pretty generous 35/1.
Opening Game: The Lakers start the 2014-15 season on the road against the Phoenix Suns @ 3:00am UK time, on Thursday, October 30th.
The playoff drought has hit eight long years for the Sacramento Kings. It doesn’t appear on paper that this team will be ended that drought this year.
The Kings have received their fair share of criticism for their offseason moves as they don’t seem to have a team that is going to mesh well.
They have some young pieces, notably big man DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay but strangely decided to let Isaiah Thomas walk in favour of signing the mediocre Darren Collison.
Thomas averaged 20.3 points per game last year and seemed to be a piece of the puzzle. There are rumors he didn’t necessarily get along well with their franchise player, Cousins.
But there’s DeMarcus Cousins maturity, which is good news for the Sacramento faithful. Finally reaching a level the experts have been projecting, Cousins averaged 22.7 points per game to go with 11.7 rebounds and over a steal and a block per contest. He’s an elite center in a league with few of them.
Rudy Gay should also have no problem scoring the basketball either, as he average over 20 coming from Toronto at last year’s halfway point. Gay and Cousins really helped Team USA capture Gold over this summer’s FIBA World Cup.
They have forwards Reggie Evans and Carl Landry, smallish but above average rebounders down low, but overall this team lacks a defensive difference maker on the perimeter.
The Kings drafted shooting guard Nik Stauskas, which gives them a shooter with range that they sorely needed. They are also high on Ray McCallum, a scoring point guard who can also contribute on the offensive side of the floor.
Overall, this team lacks defense and has a bunch of guys who’d rather shoot then pass the ball. If they limit their turnovers and Collison can facilitate their offensive weapons effectively, they could sneak into the 35-win range in a deep West.
The BetBright Verdict
27-55 (5th in the Pacific Division) – We have them priced as fifteenth favourites in the betting for the Western Conference at 90/1.
Opening Game: The Kings start the 2014-15 season at home against the Golden State Warriors @ 3:30am UK time, on Thursday, October 30th.
That’s it for this season’s NBA preview series; we hope you’ve enjoyed our team-by-team stats and analysis and that you’re now that little bit better informed prior to making your bets for the season ahead.
Please do let us know your thought on our predictions; it’d be great to get your feedback on it and views on whether we’ve called it well or had a howler!
Make sure you check out all of our basketball betting markets both pre-season and on a match-by-match throughout the entire 2014/15 NBA season here at BetBright.