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What the Hell Happened in the Pacific Division?

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Oh, you know, not much, just the upheaval of the NBA’s establishment

2019-20 LA Clippers Media Day Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

In the “What the Hell Happened in this division” series, we here at DBB tell you... what the hell happened elsewhere in the NBA. You know what, it’s better to show that tell, let’s dive in.

Los Angeles Clippers

In: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Maurice Harkless, Rodney McGruder, Patrick Patterson
Out: Avery Bradley, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

What the hell happened

This here? This here is a championship favorite. Look at it this way: The Lou Williams-Montrezl Harrell pick-and-roll pairing, the one that gave the NBA fits and frustrated the hell out of the Warriors-With-Durant last year in the playoffs? That pairing is now flanked... by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Yeah.

The talent and position flexibility on the wing is the thing that separates the Clippers. Other high-level NBA duos are either two guards (Harden and Russ. Steph and Klay. Dame and C.J., Mitchell and Conley) or a ballhandler and a big (LeBron and AD, Embiid and Simmons). We don’t know how Kawhi and PG will fit together - yet. However, at a time where having a wing who can defend and initiate and shoot threes is the single most valuable thing a team can have, it’s definitely notable that not only do the Clippers have two top-12 players, but they have two top-five wing players.

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Golden State Warriors

In: D’Angelo Russell, Willie Cauley-Stein, Glenn Robinson III, Alec Burks
Out: Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, DeMarcus Cousins,

What the hell happened

Wheeeeww buddy. Those ins and outs are ROUGH. Klay Thompson also could count as an “Out,” seeing as he’ll be out until Febuary/March with an ACL tear that he sustained in the NBA Finals. But yes, losing Kevin Durant would be a franchise-crippling blow for most teams.

But the Golden State Warriors aren’t most teams.

They aren’t championship favorites, but as long as the Warriors have Stephen Curry leading the charge on offense and Draymond Green acting as the neural network of the defense, they will be a danger in the Western conference. Yes, their wing rotation is paper thin. Yes, they’ve been enamored with Marquese Chriss in preseason, and that way lies ruin and despair. Yes, it’s widely accepted that Russell is instant trade fodder, and we’ll see how that impacts the locker room as the season goes on.

They have Steph Curry. They’ll be fine.

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers

In: Anthony Davis, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Quinn Cook, Dwight Howard, Troy Daniels, Jared Dudley, DeMarcus Cousins
Out: Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Reggie Bullock, Tyson Chandler, Lance Stephenson

What the hell happened

I mean, if you just look at what the Lakers brought in, it’s easy to see why they’re considered a championship contender. Pairing LeBron James and Anthony Davis would make that true of any team, but Danny Green as the third guy who glues everything together by defending on the perimeter and making the threes LeBron creates by staring at a defense until it breaks.

However, the Lakers don’t have the depth of other championship contenders in the West. They’re going to be leaning on Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley a lot (A LOT) during the regular season, and this ain’t the 2010 Celtics. They’re going to be leaning on Dwight Howard to absorb all the center punishment that Anthony Davis (understandably) doesn’t want to put on his body during the regular season. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is still here, jacking up shots.

I don’t know. I wouldn’t bet on the Lakers, but I sure as hell wouldn’t bet against them, either.

2019-20 Sacramento Kings Media Day Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Sacramento Kings

In: Dewayne Dedmon, Trevor Ariza, Cory Joseph, Richaun Holmes
Out: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kosta Koufos, Frank Mason

What the hell happened

The Kings won 39 games last year, are helmed by an up-and-coming capital-S Star in De’Aaron Fox, and made some nice free agent additions in Dedmon and Joseph. Unfortunately, they play in the West, so it’s possible - likely, even - that they miss the playoffs. Ouch.

The Kings have worked themselves into a place where they have quality NBA players two-deep across the board. They overpaid slightly for Harrison Barnes, but wings who can walk, chew gum, and defend are extremely valuable. Fox’s progression as a passer and playmaker last season was a sight to behold the few times I watched the Kings; if this team IS able to scrap it’s way into the playoff picture, it will be off of his play.

Their issue is the future. Their “core” is Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Marvin Bagley. Hield (26) and Bogdanovic (27) are already in their athletic primes, and the Kings are trying to sign Hield and Bogdanovic to lucrative extensions. However, Fox (21) and Bagley (20) aren’t in their prime, and won’t be until Hield and Bogdanovic are out of theirs. So far, the Kings haven’t shown an interest in squaring that circle, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

NBA: Preseason-Minnesota Timberwolves at Phoenix Suns Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns

In: Ricky Rubio, Aron Baynes, Frank Kaminsky III, Dario Saric, Cam Johnson
Out: T.J. Warren, Josh Jackson, Richaun Holmes, Dragan Bender

What the hell happened

Phoenix decided they would like to stop being embarrassingly terrible. To that end, they brought in some actual NBA players (Rubio, Baynes, Saric) to put around Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.

However, because they’re Phoenix and they couldn’t help themselves, they also gave away T.J. Warren in a pre-draft trade, traded down from 6 to 11 to draft Cam Johnson (who no one had as a top-11 pick), fired their rookie head coach (Igor Kokoskov), and had to trade Josh Jackson (who, to be fair, they wanted to trade) to do the salary cap backflips to make their free-agent signings possible.

Phoenix won’t be the worst team in the West this season (hi, Memphis.) They will offer no succor as the fourth game on your five-game, eight-day West Coast road trip, as they have in the past. But they’ll be in the lottery again.