Golden State Warriors
Key Additions: Jason Thompson, Kevon Looney
Key Subtractions: David Lee
Outlook: The reigning champs… a lot of people didn’t see this coming. some journalist and NBA players have criticized their title because their opponents were missing key players during the postseason. Truth of the matter is they played whoever was in front of them and got it done. With all of that being said, they are poised to defend their throne. They traded David Lee, but he wasn’t really a part of the rotation as you think. That move saves them money and provides flexibility down the road. In other words they should be able to contend for years to come, including this season. Expect them to back in the thick of things again.
Los Angeles Clippers
Key Additions: Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith, Cole Aldrich, Wesley Johnson, Pablo Prigioni, Chuck Hayes, Branden Dawson
Key Subtractions: Matt Barnes, Spencer Hawes
Outlook: If you take a look at this roster on paper, you would want to automatically place them in the NBA Finals. This team is loaded with talent, skill, leadership, and now championship experience on the court with Paul Pierce. If Chris Paul can’t get past the second round this year then I’m not sure who or what else you can blame. They resigned DeAndre Jordan in one of the most bizarre free agency signings of all time. Blake Griffin solidified his worth to the team when Chris Paul was out last season. You add Josh Smith and Lance Stephenson, two players who plays with an edge. Drafting Branden Dawson was a steal in my eyes. It’s basically do or die for this team otherwise somebody has to go! In a stacked Western Conference, one if two teams will be disappointed early. Will it be the Clippers again?
Los Angeles Lakers
Key Additions: Roy Hibbert, Lou Williams, Brandon Bass, D’Angelo Russell, Larry Nance Jr.
Key Subtractions: Jordan Hill, Ed Davis, Wesley Johnson, Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin, Ronnie Price
Outlook: The future looks much brighter now than it did a year ago. Any time you have Carlos Boozer on your team, it prevents your future (I know quite well). D’Angelo Russell will be pretty good… he might become a legitimate franchise-caliber player, but only time will tell. Larry Nance Jr. has bounce just like his dad. I’m not sold on Roy Hibbert, but it’s better than Carlos Boozer. Lou Williams and Brandon Bass were good signings. Julius Randle is finally back after missing last season. He looked good during preseason. Oh yeah.. Kobe’s back! Hopefully he can stay healthy for the most part this year. If this team gels and plays up to their potential, they can sneak into the playoffs. However, their ladder to climb is relatively difficult.
Key Additions: Tyson Chandler, Mirza Teletovic, Jon Leuer, Devin Booker, Ronnie Price
Key Subtractions: Marcus Morris, Brandan Wright, Reggie Bullock
Outlook: In all honesty, I’m not sure what this team is trying to do here. They came close to signing LaMarcus Aldridge (even traded some players to clear up cap space to try to sign him), but those plans fell through. However, they seemed to be in rebuilding mode when they trade Goran Dragic at the trade deadline last season. I’m not sold on their back court of Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe. They are young, athletic, and talented, but their lack of skill and intangibles (leadership, game management, awareness) is really suspect. This team may continue a fast-paced offense (as they should), but getting wins will be difficult due to the lack of overall talent and skill. I’m expecting a high lottery pick, but you’ll never know.
Key Addition: Kostas Koufos, Rajon Rondo, Willie Cauley-Stein, Marco Belinelli, Seth Curry, Caron Butler, Quincy Acy, James Anderson
Key Subtractions: Jason Thompson, Derrick Williams, Ray McCallum, Carl Landry, Nik Stauskas, Andre Miller
Outlook: Sacramento has been at the door to unlocking their full potential for the past 3 to 4 years. You have the most under appreciated and probably the best overall center in the league with DeMarcus Cousins. You have an all-star caliber player who can score on anybody at will with Rudy Gay. You bring in players that has championship experience with Marco Belinelli, Caron Butler, and Rajon Rondo (who has something to prove after that horrible outcome in Dallas). This team has the biggest chip on its shoulders in the entire league, and I really think this is the year they break through that door of potential and legitimately compete for a playoff spot. Don’t be surprised if they are still in the hunt in late March.