GH And Petey's Timberwolves Blog

Friday, October 29, 2004

Western Conference - Pacific Division

As you probably know, with the addition of the Bobcats the NBA is changing from a 4 division league to a 6 division league. I'm not really sure how qualifying and seeding for the playoffs works. I'd assume that it's each division leaders plus 5 next best records with division leaders getting home court over non-division leaders. I am going to go through each division before the beginning of the season (we'll see if this actually happens) and will give my own thoughts on how each one looks. First up is the Pacific division (because I do things left to right and the Pacific division appears furthest 'left' (west) on my maps. This division consists of the Suns, Lakers, Warriors, Clippers, and Kings.

The funny thing is that each team in this division has all sorts of problems and none are likely to really come out of the Western Conference as a contender for the 'ship (that's championship for people who never saw the inspiring Keanu Reeves flick Hardball). On paper they look to rank: Kings, Lakers, Suns, Warriors, Clippers.

Kings - They will really miss Valde's leadership, crafty veteran moves and acting ability. More importantly, Peja may be lost without him and Webber has never been known to be the 'glue' that can hold a talented team together. They've gone being from a team full of chemistry to one where apparently no one is cracking a smile or having any fun (as reported, in different words, by Marc Stein on Remember when every other article on basketball was about how the Kings played the right way, were exciting and deserved to be champions? Well, after a few years of a championship swagger but no actual championship I think they have all soured that this group of guys have what it takes. Webber doesn't think he can win with Peja on his team, Peja doesn't think he can win with Webber and Bibby most likely just wants a couple of mediocre players who aren't chokers. All of this being said, it's the Kings' division to lose.

Lakers - The great Lake show is opening for another season of theatrics but the cast has completely changed. It's Kobe's team now and he will have young, athletic running mates in order to maximize his formidable suite of talents. Unfortunately this does not include a running big man and I think this will ultimately prevent them from taking the division. Vlade can barely crawl up the court and will be of little use on offense when the Lakers are out and running with Butler, Walton, Kobe and Odom (btw, who doesn't want to run a fast break with those guys?). On the other hand, if Odom stays away from the hooka pipe and can find a way to complement Kobe, this team can be *very* dangerous. They also have the league's best kept secret: Luke Walton. The late, great Ralph Wiley was calling him the 'White Jesus' during last years playoffs. Frankly, all of it was warranted. He spend a good quarter at least carrying the entire Lakers' offense on his shoulders (an offense with 4 HOFers) and is the main reason that there was no sweep in the Finals. Can he do more of that this year with Kobe and Odom getting all of the touches? I think he can and will.

Suns - So Steve Nash helps but he doesn't know how to play D. He barely gets in his opponent's way on defense. He'll help them a ton on offense and Amare may very well have a breakout season where he starts to become a dominant force in the West but none of this will really matter when other teams are just shredding them for basket after basket. It didn't matter on the Mavs that Nash couldn't play D because they just tried to outscore their opponent anyway. The Suns will need their D to help win games and I just don't see it being there. Of course, I still wouldn't want to be on the opposing end of their Nash, Amare, Q-Rich, Matrix fast break -- that is just going to be all kinds of sick.

Warriors - Ok, so I'm originally from the Bay Area but didn't start following basketball until I moved to Minnesota. And if there is one thing I clearly remember from reading the sports section of the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle every day is this: The Warriors suck. So, I have plenty of faith that this year will be no exception despite how much I like Chris Mullin. Of course, they spent upwards of $80 million on Derek Fisher and Adonal Foyle so I could be wrong. Of course, Jason Richardson may very well start beating up his girlfriend again when they *still* continue to lose. They have some things going for them. Troy Murphy is a beast and is a joy to watch (a big white guy who is actually talented, what a thought!). Since the have plenty of young talent, little cap room, and are still owned by Chris Cohan, I'm sure they'll be in the playoffs in no time.

Clippers - Ugh, I don't even want to have to look at their roster and come up with anything for them. I mean c'mon, they're just hideous! Good thing they have tons of experience drafting in the lottery.

Only 5 more divisions to go!