Already a competitive conference, the West got even tougher over the summer when LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. He makes the Lakers and back-to-back defending champion Golden State Warriors two of the more prominent storylines.
But what about the Pacific Division as a whole? The Warriors speak for themselves, and added DeMarcus Cousins to the fold as they look to win a fourth championship in five years. They’ll meet the Lakers for the first time on Christmas Day.
The Clippers have bid farewell to Lob City. Gone are the days of Chris Paul, Deandre Jordan and Blake Griffin. The team finished 10th in the conference last season, accumulating 42 wins. The Lakers lost the season series against their Staples Center cohabitants 3-1.
The Clippers are not considered to sit amongst the heavyweights of the West, but it’s worth keeping an eye on their chemistry this season. The franchise could make a case as an intriguing landing spot for free agents who have their sights set on L.A., like Kawhi Leonard.
The Pacific Division is funky. At the top you’ve got the Warriors, and now James in a Lakers uniform. Then things fizzle out pretty quickly. The Phoenix Suns won a grand total of 21 games last season and finished last in the Western Conference.
Against the Lakers, the Suns were 1-3. While the youthful roster in Phoenix isn’t expected to make the postseason this year, there is excitement surrounding their number one draft pick in Deandre Ayton and how he plays alongside Devin Booker. Los Angeles fans should enjoy the Suns-Lakers regular season series two young cores face off in what should be high energy and fast paced games.
Las Vegas has the Sacramento Kings winning fewer games than the Suns this year. Last season, the Kings finished 12th in the West with 27 wins. Sacramento currently sits on the throne of longest post-season drought (2006). They’re not expected to quench that playoff thirst this season. Last year the Kings and Lakers split their regular season meetings.
With hardly any gimmes in the West this season, expect the Lakers to take advantage of the opponents they can out-talent. Put the Kings in that category.
Vegas has the Lakers making the biggest jump in regular season wins of any team in the league. Call that the LeBron James effect. After winning 35 last season, the line for the 2018-19 team is at 48.5.
The star power of James means there are plenty of storylines surrounding L.A.’s storied franchise. While the gravity of James is indisputable, plenty of questions surround the fit of the Lakers roster moving forward.
How will the young core mesh with seasoned veterans on one-year contracts? How many minutes will James play? Will Lonzo Ball or Rajon Rondo start? Can the Lakers survive with question marks at center? Only time will tell, but one thing we know Los Angeles won’t be lacking, is personality.
Want to get your content COMPLETELY AD FREE? Follow us on Apple News!