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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Western Conference Preview : Pacific Division

The Pacific Division of the NBA is the home of fast paced basketball, no real defense and the simple fact that the O'Brien Trophy is resting within the division with possibly the best team in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers. With that said, I actually think the Pacific is going to shock the NBA world with the possibility of sending 3 teams to the playoffs!!! Wanna hear it, hear it go... * I will also keep with the Vegas odds theme * (good call @marcusjnorris)

5) Sacramento Kings 100-1

I honestly think positions 2-5 will be a toss-up in the Pacific Division, but the Sacramento Kings could hold down the last spot. Led by last season's Rookie Of The Year, Tyreke Evans, the Kings are going to push the pace of the game and try to out gun teams. The keys for success here lie with how DeMarcus Cousins evolves in his rookie season and if Omri Caspi can be a consistent threat. The L's will fill up in the record column until they learn how to close teams out. The Kings were in a lot of games last year, but could not seal the deal. Again, the 2-5 slots are up for grabs, but I think end of game scenario's will end up hurting the Sacramento Kings.

4) Phoenix Suns 50-1

Bold prediction here, but I have a theme working for my 3 team playoff prediction. The Phoenix Suns cannot be that bad when you have a Steve Nash that can make the worst of players look and play better. The question here is who will replace the dominating presence of A'mare Stoudemire. Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson will more than likely take on the bulk of the scoring for these Suns, but generally speaking, jumpshots may end up being the achillies heal. The X-Factor will be Robin Lopez, if he can average anything close to a double-double the Phoenix Suns could be in good shape.

3) Los Angeles Clippers 75-1 (Playoff 8th Seed)

Yea, I said it, the Los Angeles Clippers will be the 8th seed in the West this year. I think Eric Gordon will be much improved after his experience with Team USA and quite possibly lead the Clippers in scoring. We are all excited to see if Blake Griffin is going to hold up for the season and what he will produce. Judging by the pre-season, Griffin is a double-double waiting to happen. Chris Kaman is solid on the block and can give good production. The X-Factor is Baron Davis. Baron Davis is an all-star caliber player, when he wants to be. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Baron becomes the leader the Clippers need and gets them to that 8th seed.

2) Golden State Warriors 150-1 (Playoff 7th Seed)

Bold prediction on the 7th seed, but here is what I see. The Golden State Warriors are going to live and die by the decisions of one Monta Ellis. Monta can score the ball with anyone of the top scorers in the league. The problem is that Monta is a volume shooter/scorer and that can be what puts the Warriors in the 7th seed of the playoffs or with one of the worst records in the league. Stephen Curry is the other shooter/scorer and his experience with Team USA will help him improve this season. Curry has one of the purest shots in the league and can put up good numbers, if he is on. Jumpshots are clearly up in Golden State, which is why the addition of David Lee will pay off royally. Lee is a hard working rebound machine and you have to believe some of those will come on the offensive end, he also has post game which is needed. Two X-Factors here... First, can Monta and Stephen become a dynamic scoring duo? Second, will Reggie Williams get a chance to do what he can do? Williams is a good scorer that can definitely add an extra threat. With that said, I think the Golden State Warriors will sneak into that 7th spot in the Western Conference Playoffs.

1) Los Angeles Lakers 7-2 (Playoff 2nd Seed?)

The reigning and defending back to back NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers are looking to send Phil Jackson off into the sunset with an unprecedented 12th championship on 4 3-peats. It's no secret the Los Angeles Lakers will go as far as Kobe Bryant wills them to go, but health will be a concern for this season's Laker team. Kobe is coming off knee surgery and that needs rest, but Kobe is going to play and I will not count out the best player in the world if he wants to play. We know how Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Ron Artest and Lamar Odom will fit within the offense and clearly it equals championships. Not to be a broken Laker record, but the concern is the Laker bench. I think additions of Matt Barnes and Steve Blake will add good defensive depth, so it just depends on how they fit in the offense. Let Shannon Brown dunk and maybe Sasha Vuacic can re-discover his confidence and jumpshot after his recent engagement. The X-Factor is Andrew Bynum and how soon will he be back from yet another knee injury. My advice is to sit Andrew until January and let him get back to speed from there, because the Lakers do not need him in the regular season. They do however, need to let him get some time in and get re-adjusted to the speed of the game and Lamar Odom back to leading the bench. So health concerns and re-adjustment will probably put the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2nd seed of the Western Conference, but I do see them with the 3-peat. The Champs are here again!!!

Oh and by the way, the theme I mentioned for playoff positioning is "improvement by playing for Team USA Basketball." Which is why I think OKC and Kevin Durant will take the 1 seed...

- @lostherod

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