NBA Predictions: Pacific Division strengthens, adding intrigue to Win Totals

The Pacific Division is one of the strongest divisions in the NBA with the standings set to undergo a mini-makeover. The Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors got a lot stronger this offseason while the Phoenix Suns elected to stay put. With Kawhi Leonard set to miss the season, Los Angeles Clippers have been reduced to a playoff contender while the Sacramento Kings are fighting for relevancy.

Below are the win totals for the division.

So which teams got better and which teams got worse? Let’s dive into the win totals and predict who wins goes Under or Over.

NBA Predictions: Pacific Division provides intrigue to predicting Win Totals

Klay Thompson’s return is the key for Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors enter the 2021-22 Season looking to acquire its fourth title. Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson are aging thus the franchise is on the clock to maximize one of the most successful core groups in history. Interestingly, Golden State hasn’t made any major moves to improve its roster, relying on Thompson’s return to elevate them to another championship.

The Warriors finished ninth last season, losing back-to-back play-in games against the Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies. Curry carried the franchise all year, having the best statistical season of his career. He averaged 32 points and 5.8 assists on outstanding 48-42-92 shooting splits giving them a shot at the post-season.

Fast-forward to the upcoming season, the Warriors should improve by virtue of a returning Thompson. However, there are major question marks on whether he will return as the Thompson of old or a mere shell of himself. Still, his presence alone will open the floor and their offense will improve around their strong defense.

Golden State finished last season with a record of 39-33 with Curry as the only offensive threat. Thompson’s return will add more wins but I don’t believe he adds 10 more wins.

Verdict: Under 48.5
Prediction: 46-36

Los Angeles Clippers poised for a tough season with Kawhi Leonard Out

The Los Angeles Clippers will play the waiting game knowing they will be without superstar forward Kawhi Leonard. Leonard underwent surgery on torn ACL he suffered during the playoff series against the Utah Jazz. There are conflicting reports about his availability over the 2021-22 season but one surmises he will sit out the entire year. With this in mind, pressure rests on star Paul George to lead the Clippers.

General Manager Michael Winger took steps to fill out the roster in Leonard’s absence, re-signing Nicolas Batum and Reggie Jackson. However, he made a surprising move trading Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo, and Daniel Oturu for Eric Bledsoe and Justise Winslow. This was done to save money on luxury tax with the idea of beefing up the Clippers defense. Los Angeles will lean on that side of the rock to lead its 2021 campaign.

Leonard’s absence ultimately derails the Clippers desire to win a championship this season. The team went 47-25 last season with George and Leonard but the team is good enough to win 45+ games in a full 82 game season. If George stays healthy, they are still better than a majority of the league and I think their defense will keep them afloat.

Verdict: Over 44.5
Prediction: 46- 36

Championship on the Agenda for the Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers underwent a full makeover, reworking its roster to solidify its status as an NBA championship powerhouse. Russell Westbrook comes to Tinseltown seeking a championship, the only void left to be filled in a cherished career. He joins champions Anthony Davis and LeBron James, looking to join the elusive club.

Despite the team’s additions, the media has taken a strange angle claiming the team is too old to be a championship contender. The Lakers lost a host of defensive talents in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, and Dennis Schroder but added firepower in Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. Additionally, the Lakers also addressed its three-point shooting, adding Wayne Ellington, Malik Monk, Kent Bazemore, and Kendrick Nunn.

Obviously, the key to the Lakers’ success is health. Anthony Davis and 36-year-old LeBron James spent months on the sidelines last year and were a shell of themselves in the playoffs. However, Westbrook will provide energy every single night to carry the team through the season while adding a number of experienced veterans to assist him.

The Lakers went 42-30 to finish seventh last season but their offseason additions improve their team exponentially. Davis has also agreed to play more as the team’s center, unlocking their ceiling. Re-signing Dwight Howard also gives Davis an opportunity to rest or play power forward in spot minutes.

A trio of James, Davis, and Westbrook will be hard to handle and I suspect they win a ton of games with their new supporting cast.

Verdict: Over 53.5
Prediction: 56-26

Phoenix Suns look to prove last season was not a fluke

The Phoenix Suns were the Cinderella team of the NBA last year, making a deep playoff run to reach the finals. Behind outstanding performances from Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton, the Suns made the finals interesting by jumping out to a 0-2 lead before being run over 4-2 by Milwaukee.

Phoenix didn’t add much over the offseason, electing to run it back with largely the same cast as last year. Paul and Cameron Payne re-signed on lucrative multi-year deals while Abdel Nader and Frank Kaminsky return on veteran minimums.

One area Phoenix addressed came at the five-spot. JaVale McGee arrives to offer depth behind Ayton, an area that was exposed in the finals following an injury to Dario Saric. Landry Shamet adds to the Suns’ array of three-point shooting while Elfrid Payton adds support at point-guard.

The Suns were a model of consistency last year and managed to stay healthy the entire season. It remains to be seen if their luck continues but one shouldn’t punish an organization for keeping its players safe. In my opinion, the Suns go as far as Ayton’s game goes. The Suns used the 22-year-old solely as a lob threat, limiting opportunities for growth on the offensive end. Phoenix needs to give him a chance to prove himself from other areas on the floor to realize his potential. If they don’t, they are effectively lowering his ceiling as a player.

Phoenix won 51 games last season and the same team is returning. However, I expect other teams in the West to improve and move up the standings. The Suns should be near the top of the standings but I am comfortable taking the Under.

Verdict: Under 51.5
Prediction: 48-34

Sacramento Kings set for another disappointing NBA season

If you are confused about what the Sacramento Kings are doing, you are not alone. The Kings continue to toe the line between competing and rebuilding but generally fall somewhere in between. Marvin Bagley is still with the club while trade chips Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes will don Kings colors to begin the year. The other confusing move was the selection of Davion Mitchell with the ninth pick, creating a jam at guard with De’Aaron Fox, Hield, and Terence Davis in the rotation.

Sacramento made one of the best moves in the NBA, inking big man Richaun Holmes to a team-friendly four-year, $46.5-million-dollar contract. The 27-year-old is a fantastic center who can guard both the perimeter and paint while being an effective roller to the rim. Aside from that, the additions of Tristan Thompson and Alex Len next to Holmes make little sense.

It’s difficult to see what the Kings are doing moving forward. They made next to no moves to improve on a roster that went 31-41 last season. Fox has expressed a desire to compete but the franchise did nothing to suggest it’s in their immediate future. The line is set at 35.5 but I cannot see them winning more than 30 games.

I’ll throw them a bone and give them 33 wins. I’ll be surprised if they aren’t in the NBA lottery in 2022-23.

Verdict: Under 35.5
Prediction: 33-49

 

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