While it’s far less impressive than their run of five consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals, the Warriors have also won the Pacific Division five times in a row. However, that streak may be in jeopardy heading into the 2019/20 season.
The Warriors figure to be a contender again next season, with perennial MVP candidate Stephen Curry, newly-extended big man Draymond Green, and newly-acquired All-Star D’Angelo Russell leading the way. But the Dubs don’t have quite the same amount of star power that they’ve had in recent years. Kevin Durant is gone. So are veteran stalwarts Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. And Klay Thompson isn’t expected to be back until sometime after the All-Star break as he recovers from a torn ACL. A step back seems likely.
The Suns appear to be on the right track in their rebuild, and the Kings added some intriguing veteran reinforcements after taking a big step forward last season, but it’s probably safe to assume that the biggest threats to Golden State’s streak of five straight division titles are in Los Angeles.
No Western Conference team has a higher projected win total, according to oddsmakers, than the Clippers. Gambling site BetOnline.ag has the Clips’ regular-season over/under listed at 54.5 wins, and it’s easy to see why — the team essentially replaced Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George this offseason after winning 48 games last season.
Of course, the Clippers aren’t a lock to be a powerhouse. Leonard was limited to 60 games last season and battled an apparent leg injury in the playoffs. George, meanwhile, underwent surgery on both shoulders at season’s end, and isn’t guaranteed to be 100% by opening night. If either of those players is forced to miss extended time, the Clippers’ “under” is probably a safer bet than the “over.”
As for L.A.’s other team, the Lakers have a superstar duo of their own, with Anthony Davis joining LeBron James. Assuming both players stay healthy, the Lakers will be a force to be reckoned with in 2019/20. However, there will be a lot of new pieces besides Davis for new head coach Frank Vogel to incorporate.
DeMarcus Cousins, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Quinn Cook, and Jared Dudley are among the incoming free agents signed by the Lakers to join returning players like Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
What do you think? Which team will ultimately end up atop the Pacific Division at the end of the regular season? And will that same team make the deepest postseason run, perhaps representing the West in the Finals next spring?
Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!
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