NBA Western Conference Predictions: Pacific Division
by Josh Nagel - 10/19/2009
Here are some NBA predictions for the 2009-10 season, with a team-by-team look at the Western Conference Pacific Division.
Team: Los Angeles Lakers
Last year's records: 65-17, 43-49 ATS
Odds: +140 (NBA championship); -135 (Western Conference)
Key transactions: Acquired forward Ron Artest.
Los Angeles Lakers Predictions: The NBA champion Lakers accomplished their primary off-season goal when they came to terms with free-agent forward Lamar Odom. Once he came back on board, the Lakers decided they didn't need to do too much tinkering. Seeing as they just won an NBA title, it stands to reason they didn't have a lot of areas to address. They did add the volatile Artest, trading blossoming forward Trevor Ariza to acquire the defensive stalwart who has famously engaged Kobe Bryant in a war of words over the years. Although Artest is an immense talent, this trade is a little riskier than it might look. Ariza was just coming into his own as a solid perimeter player and great defender in his own right; his excellent play was integral to the title run. With Phil Jackson back the bench, and the core including Bryant, Pau Gasol, Artest and Odom leading the way, the Lakers deserve to be the obvious favorite to repeat as NBA champs.
Prediction: 68-14, first place.
Team: Phoenix Suns
Last year's records: 46-36, 35-44-2 ATS
Odds: +5800 (NBA); +3500 (conference)
Key transactions: Acquired forwards Channing Frye and Jared Dudley.
Phoenix Suns Predictions: The Shaq experiment didn't work, nor did the hiring of Terry Porter as coach. Amid all the turmoil that engulfed last year for the Suns, you would have thought they had a miserable season. They didn't, but they didn't meet expectations, either. Alvin Gentry took over and promised a return to Phoenix's up-tempo play. He accomplished that much, but the results basically stayed the same. Although Shaq ended up with an All-Star season, it seems he was just the wrong fit for a frontcourt that belongs to the younger and more athletic Amare Stoudemire. Steve Nash is aging at point guard, but likely has a couple of good years left in him. The Suns might be a bit improved, but until they make a commitment to defense, you can't expect too much of them.
Prediction: 48-34, second place.
Team: Golden State Warriors
Last year's records: 29-53, 39-40-3 ATS
Odds: +12000 (NBA); +7500 (conference)
Key transactions: Drafted guard Stephen Curry.
Golden State Warriors Predictions: The Warriors were expected to take a big step forward last year. Instead, they took a giant step backward. Now, things aren't looking much better with former captain Stephen Jackson feuding with coach Don Nelson and another roster full of players who can score but have little desire to rebound or defend. Curry should add excitement and some interest, but it's interesting that the Warriors reportedly refused to deal him in a potential trade for Amare Stoudemire. Golden State had plenty of guys who can shoot and score - Stoudemire might have changed the franchise's fortunes. The Warriors can be formidable when they are healthy, but they likely will just be a run-and-gun club that is fun to watch.
Prediction: 37-45, third place.
Team: Los Angeles Clippers
Last year's records: 19-63, 32-50 ATS
Odds: +12500 (NBA); +7500 (conference)
Key transactions: Drafted forward Blake Griffin.
Los Angeles Clippers Predictions: Coach Mike Dunleavy somehow survived to return for another season, ostensibly because owner Donald Sterling probably didn't want to have to cut him a check should he let the coach go. You have to wonder if Dunleavy would have preferred to be out of his misery. The Clippers have some good young talent in Eric Gordon and Al Thornton, but having decent players has never gotten in the Clippers' way of their one-way ticket toward the bottom of the standings. Injuries hit this club hard last year, but you have to think the Clippers would have found a way to be their old selves, regardless. Top overall draft pick Blake Griffin will get a chance to shine right away. If the core around him can stay healthy, the Clippers should be vastly improved. Then again, don't bet on it.
Prediction: 33-49, fourth place.
Team: Sacramento Kings
Last year's records: 17-65, 38-44 ATS
Odds: +13000 (NBA); +9500 (conference)
Key transactions: Acquired forward Sean May; drafted guard Tyreke Evans.
Sacramento Kings Predictions: Veteran coach Paul Westphal was brought in to oversee what is becoming a prolonged rebuilding process for the Kings. He has his work cut out for him, and the coach and Kings fans alike will have to show patience as the team is bound to take another round of lumps. Evans could be an impact player right away, and paired with Kevin Martin, could provide an exciting backcourt. Draftee Jon Brockman gives the Kings another "project" big man out of Washington to go with Spencer Hawes.
Prediction: 20-62, fifth place.
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