How Will It Play Out? Pacific Division Rankings

January 2, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) talks to power forward Blake Griffin (32, right) during the third quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Clippers 115-94. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers have made some pretty big offseason moves. Sacramento Kings haven’t gotten any worse and the Phoenix Suns are in prime position to “tank-4-Wiggins”.  The Los Angeles Lakers were happy to announce their big free agency signing in Chris Kaman. Sorry, Laker fans, if that put you down, but your team hasn’t made any significant adjustments this summer. Maybe they’ll return to their winning ways, but they need a capable center to do that and a healthy Kobe Bryant.

He may be one of the greatest of all-time, but right now, it’s not looking like he can lead the Lakers to a championship or even the playoffs for that matter. Especially with the Lakers being a far way off their two rivals, the Warriors and the Clippers, who will be going head-to-head for the divisional crown this season

With that being said, how does the Pacific Division look in terms of competition this year? Here’s what I think. Of course, you’re entitled to your own opinion so comment on why you think that I’m wrong.

1. Los Angeles Clippers (56-26, 1st in Pacific last season):

More so than the Warriors, the Clippers have had one of the best offseasons that we’ve seen in a while from them. Not only did they re-sign the NBA’s best all-around point guard, but they brought on good defenders as well as terrific shooters to spread the floor and work with Chris Paul.

The Clippers are looking stacked right now. They have a chance to finish with a top-two seed in the West, but with the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs lurking they can at least guarantee a top-four seed by winning the division.. The Warriors may be able to take them over, but it’s not likely considering that they are inexperienced, and just starting to get their dynasty together.

2. Golden State Warriors 47-35, 2nd in Pacific last season):

As good as the Warriors were last year, they’re going to be even better this next year. They’re not going to be up there with the Clippers, but I believe that the Warriors are going to be a superpower and a force to be reckoned with. If they can steal the lead of the Pacific Division, they get homecourt advantage for the playoffs.

Because that is so unlikely, however, I place them at second, not far behind the Clippers. The Warriors are going to finish close to LAC in the standings, so we won’t be able to see a playoff series between these two teams. That probably annoys some of the fans that are looking into this new rivalry.

3. Los Angeles Lakers (45-37, 3rd in Pacific last season):

The Lakers are a great team. On paper. Sorry if I got your hopes up again, but by no indications are the Lakers going to even come close to a playoff birth. ESPN’s ranking of them at 12th was completely accurate. Kobe Bryant tweeted about it in a negative tone, which is understandable. Something for Kobe, however, is that the truth hurts.

I’m not disrespecting the Lakers, as most of you will think I am, but I’m saying that they’re on the decline. It happens with every team, except the Spurs. The Lakers may be able to find their magic and make the playoffs, but they won’t finish before the Warriors or the Clippers.

4. Sacramento Kings: (28-54, 4th in Pacific last season)

The Kings and the Lakers are going to finish close in terms of the Pacific Division, and as of now, they’re competing for the third spot. Sacramento is a decent team on paper, but their success depends on the attitude of DeMarcus Cousins, who is the future of their franchise.

Unfortunately for the Kings, however, they need one more big acquisition before they can actually do some damage. The Warriors and Clippers have made those moves, and the Lakers are still up there in terms of superstars. The Kings need to make changes, fast.

5. Phoenix Suns (25-57, 5th in Pacific last season)

Competing in the Pacific isn’t this team’s goal this year nor is it for next season. Obtaining a high draft pick in the loaded 2014 NBA Draft to go alongside the newly acquired franchise piece in Eric Bledsoe is the key as they’re planning for the future.

The acquisition of Alex Len and the pairing of Bledsoe/Goran Dragic will give fans something to look forward to during the 2012-13 NBA season. Bringing in Len also means that this will finally be the year that center Marcin Gortat is finally traded away (he’s owed $7 million next season). If the Suns front office plays their cards right with Gortat they’ll be able to stockpile draft picks and young players a la the Houston Rockets in hopes to nab a superstar somewhere down the road.

Topics: Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, Pacific Division, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Western Conference

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