Blog Entry

Offseason Reviews: Pacific Division

Posted on: August 6, 2010 3:38 pm
 
Posted by Royce Young



Los Angeles Lakers

Added: Matt Barnes (free agency), Steve Blake (free agency), Shannon Brown (re-signed), Theo Ratliff (free agency)
Lost: Josh Powell (free agency), Jordan Farmar (free agency)

Philosophy: "Maintaining excellence."

The Lakers didn't accomplish a ton this offseason. But when you're already the best team and you got a little better, that means you done good. Matt Barnes is obviously an interesting addition because of his past relationship with Kobe. But if the Lakers had a chink in the armor, it was the bench. Sasha Vujacic is being actively shopped and Luke Walton is expected to miss most the season. So Barnes will see ample minutes off the bench.

Steve Blake is a brilliant signing because as we saw last postseason, Derek Fisher is getting older. He still produced, but can he put in another full 82? Blake is a reliable point guard that can shoot. Add in Brown who's a nice third point guard that can slide over to the 2 and the Laker bench got a lot stronger this offseason.

Despite what occurred in Miami, the Lakers didn't slip behind anyone. They are still a matchup nightmare for anyone and added pieces that fit, rather than brute talent.

Grade: A

Phoenix Suns

Added: Josh Childress (free agency), Gani Lawal (draft), Matt Janning (signed), Hedo Turkoglu (trade), Hakim Warrick (free agency)
Lost: Amar'e Stoudemire (free agency), Taylor Griffin (waived), Jarron Collins (free agency), Leandro Barbosa (trade), Lou Amundson (free agency),

Philosophy: "Hanging on."

Losing Amar'e Stoudemire was a blow. A big blow. The Suns have been hanging on by a thread to Stoudemire the last two seasons and finally lost him. They replace him with Hakim Warrick who is really Amar'e Lite. It's a worthy replacement, but nothing to the level of Stoudemire.

Trading Barbosa to grab Turkoglu helps the Suns positionally, as Barbosa was nothing more than a bench player and Turkoglu will play a larger role. Is he an improvement? Eh...

Josh Childress was a really solid player for Atlanta and was great overseas, but there's no telling how he'll integrate back into the NBA. The Suns had a difficult offseason because any time you lose a player the caliber of Stoudemire, it's tough to rebuild. They need someone, anyone, to step up and play better than expected. Maybe that's Earl Clark. Maybe Robin Lopez keeps improving. Maybe Nash makes Warrick look better than he is. They might survive this season on Nash alone, but rocky roads might be ahead for Phoenix.

Grade: C

Golden State Warriors

Added: David Lee (trade), Jeremy Lin (undrafted free agent), Ekpe Udoh (draft), Dorell Wright (free agency), Charlie Bell (trade), Dan Gadzuric (trade)
Lost: Anthony Randolph (trade), Corey Maggette (trade), Anthony Morrow (free agency), Chris Hunter (free agency), Anthony Tolliver (free agency), Devean George (free agency), C.J. Watson (free agency), Ronny Turiaf (trade)

Philosophy: "Crossroads."

The Warriors aren't a franchise that the NBA needs to do well. It can survive just fine without GSW booming. But it's certainly a franchise that when it's doing well, the NBA is more fun. And last season, they were the haven of D-League All-Stars and basically just ran in place all year.

The biggest move this organization made this offseason wasn't the acquisition of David Lee, albeit that's a significant move. Instead, it's the transfer in ownership from Chris Cohen to owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. By their talk, they plan on restoring the Warriors through smart, calculated moves. They're willing to spend and they want to win.

The Warriors had a nice draft taking Epke Udoh sixth, though he did hurt his wrist. But Udoh is a potential interior force with a gifted skillset. Adding him and David Lee really solidify a frontcourt that should be able to compete against most others in the West.

Honestly, one of my favorite moves the Warriors made was moving Anthony Randolph as well. Not for their sake, but for the sake of NBA fans everywhere. Hopefully now that Randolph is in a new situation, he can blossom into the talent we all thought he could be.

Grade: B+

Los Angeles Clippers

Added: Rasual Butler (re-signed), Al-Farouq Aminu (draft), Randy Foye (free agency), Ryan Gomes (free agency), Eric Bledsoe (draft), Brian Cook (free agency)
Lost: Travis Outlaw (free agency), Steve Blake (free agency), Mardy Collins (free agency), Steve Novak (free agency), Brian Skinner (free agency), Bobby Brown (free agency), Drew Gooden (free agency)

Philosophy: "OK, for real this time."

Last season, the Clippers made a chic pick for a turnaround season. Then top pick Blake Griffin got hurt, Baron Davis didn't play as well and Mike Dunleavy coached the first half of the season.

And while hopes were high last year, the Clippers didn't do a ton to improve. They basically just took a step sideways and hope to NOW make that improvement with virtually the same roster. They won 29 games last year and while Griffin is obviously a great talent, is he really going to be a 10 or 15 win improvement?

They didn't lose a ton and didn't add anything other than a shooting guard to play behind Eric Gordon, a lottery pick at small forward (which was a huge need though), and a backup to Baron Davis. Bledsoe and Aminu are really nice draft picks, but this team boasted about being on its way back sooner than later. Right now, it appears the Clips are still building rather than being ready to make actual noise.

Grade: C

Sacramento Kings

Added: Samuel Dalembert (trade), Hassan Whiteside (draft), DeMarcus Cousins (draft), Pooh Jeter (undrafted free agent), Antoine Wright (free agency)
Lost: Andres Nocioni (free agency), Jon Brockman (trade), Sean May (free agency), Ime Udoka (free agency), Dominic McGuire (free agency)

Philosophy: "Small transitions."

The Kings are a roster in transition. They basically tore the building down and are now re-constructing the frame. The core, long-term pieces are being placed, but now it's filling out a roster that complements those pieces.

The big move was drafting DeMarcus Cousins fourth overall. A player many considered to be the most talented player in the draft, the Kings are prepared to weather some potential character flaws because of talent.

They also traded for Samuel Dalembert, giving the Kings a formidable frontcourt. Cousins, Jason Thompson, Carl Landry and Dalembert make for a nice lineup.  But other than the frontcourt moves, Sacramento basically held firm on waiting for Tyreke Evans' eventual leap into stardom. This is an improved roster, but it's not there yet.

Grade: B-
Comments

Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: August 12, 2010 2:13 am
 

Offseason Reviews: Pacific Division

Spartyftw1: Thanks for catching that. You're quite right - I did forget to mention those moves. I have not seen enough of Hawes to have an informed judgement, though the few times I did see him, he did not really impress me as being a consistent force. The Nocioni trade was good for the Kings' books - not so good for their on-court toughness in my opinion. But I ought to have included that in my initial post. My apologies.



Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: August 12, 2010 2:10 am
 

Offseason Reviews: Pacific Division

wildcatsfan1: I completely agree with you - Nash does make everyone around him better. And I like Nash a lot. The reason I say he is not a franchise player is that I do not believe based on his accomplishments to date that he has proved he is truly a franchise guy who can get a team over the top.

I think the closest comparison to Steve Nash is John Stockton, who, while he was a far superior defender and a much tougher customer on the court, was similarly unable to get his team to the summit, despite playing with some prodigious talents. Nash's teams have always been incredibly fun to watch, but I have a difficult time forgetting that after Nash left the Mavericks, they got better the ensuing season. That is not the mark of a franchise player. And I have a hard time forgetting how Nash's Suns could never even get to the NBA Finals, despite having the best record in the League on at least one occasion. 

I think that the true mark of a franchise player is the willingness at least once to put the team on his back and drag it to the Promised Land. Hakeem Olajuwon did it, Tim Duncan did it, Michael Jordan did it, Magic Johnson did it, Bird did it, Kareem did it, Wade has done it and even Kobe has done it. But Nash has never been able to. And for this reason, I hesitate to classify him in my list of true greats. Plus his defense is awful. If the Suns did not hide him so much on defense, he would be even more of a liability than he already is. But the main reasons I cannot include Nash on my list of true franchise players is that he has yet to rise to the occasion and pull his team over the top. Until he does, he will remain in my second-fiddle list of players who, as great as they are, needed a Number One option beside them to drag themselves over the top. David Robinson is a perfect example. Great player, certainly, but he needed Tim Duncan to get to the summit. 

Hope this clarified my original statement.




Since: Jan 20, 2007
Posted on: August 11, 2010 6:49 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Pacific Division

I have no idea how you can say Nash isn't a franchise player Kisha. He makes every player around him play at a higher level. Marion, Hill, J-Rich, Dudley, Tim Thomas, etc. These are some of the many examples of recent Suns players who have played at a much higher level next to Nash than without him.



Since: Feb 2, 2010
Posted on: August 11, 2010 5:38 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Pacific Division

On the parts the Kings lost I think you forgot Spencer Hawes was traded and Andres Nocioni was also traded not lost to free agency.  He had a monster contract that no one should want to pay him. 



Since: Jun 25, 2007
Posted on: August 11, 2010 12:05 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Pacific Division

Every needs to get this straight. The Warriors play defense (not the best defense, not the worst either) they just can't rebound defensively. Its not like they just let teams score at will. Teams are getting 2 sometimes 3 or 4 chances to score on one possession. That's the problem.  And it looks like they solved that problem by trading for the second best defensive rebounder in teh league last season and getting one of the best rebounding over the past couple of year back from injury.



Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: August 9, 2010 1:38 am
 

Offseason Reviews: Pacific Division

For just a "regular Joe", very nice job of analysis without lame opinions and bias.  I'll read you again.



Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: August 8, 2010 5:42 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Pacific Division

Pretty accurate, I would say. More so than most, the Paciifc is a division of the haves and have-nots The Los Angeles Lakers are the haves and the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers are the have-nots. The Phoenix Suns are somewhere in the middle - not a real contender but not terrible either.  As far as the breakdown, I think Mr. Young did a pretty good job. Let's take a look at the teams.

 

Los Angeles Lakers:

The Lakers definitely improved their bench on paper and should be able to rest their starters a little bit more thi season if their moves all come to fruition. I like the Blake/Brown/Ratliff/Barnes bench, especially since the Lakers almost always play one of their main scorers with said bench. This is a crew that all know their roles and all bring something the Lakers needed. They aren't James, Wade and Bosh, but then they don't need to be. Good off-season for the Lakers.

 

Phoenix Suns:

The Suns are a much harder franchise to grade. Do I believe them to be a serious contender for anything other than the 'Most Entertaining' award? No. Do I believe that Steve Nash is truly a franchise player? No I do not. And do I believe that their philosophy can win a championship? No, although Gentry's take on the run-and-gun offense is a lot more sensible than either Don Nelson's or Mike D'Antoni's. But looking at these pieces, I do not believe that Phoenix can mount a serious challenge to the Lakers. They just don't really offer much outside of Nash, and with Stoudamire gone, they lost the one interior player who occasionally could pose a threat to teams like LA. And their defense is still pretty awful - especially at the point. So they basically tried to tread water and hope Nash can somehow manage to get past the real contenders in the West. And that, I believe, is a pipe dream doomed to failure. 

 

Golden State Warriors:

Until the new ownership shows what their plan might be, it is impossible to grade the Warriors' off-season. Will Don Nelson be back? (Personally, I doubt it). Will the Warriors continue to run the helter-skelter offense and utter lack of defense that have characterized them for so long? Who will be the new management team and what will they want to do? Who are the building blocks going forward? Ellis? Curry? Someone else? None of this will be determined until the new ownership has a chance to get organized. So the Warriors are a huge enigma at this stage. 

 

Los Angeles Clippers:

The Clippers actually have a fairly solid core in place - IF they can stay healthy and IF they can persuade Baron Davis to devote the same enthusiasm to his day job that he reportedly devotes to his recording and movie hobbies. So I would suggest that Mr. Young is a little harsh on the Clippers. Yes, they have the NBA's worst owner. Yes, they have a front office that has long been characterized by utter incompetence. But they do have some nice players and they have a good chance at respectability - maybe even a plus-500 record. I actually like this team as a sleeper and I believe they are going to be a lot better than people think. Maybe. After all they ARE the Clippers.

 

Sacramento Kings:

This is a long-term rebuilding job. And I'm simply not sure how to grade their off-season. I really have no respect for DeMarcus Cousins, even while I am forced to respect his obvious talent. And he is a complete wild card - he could be the second coming of Shawn Kemp or the second coming of Rasheed Wallace. neither is a great possibility. As for the rest of the Kings' pieces, they did get a solid defensive center in Dalembert and another raw youngster with off-sourt issues in Whiteside. Really for the Kings, their off-season will be determined by how well Cousins responds to the NBA and how much Tyreke Evans can continue to progress. Until that is known, this also really needs to be an incomplete. But they are clearly settled on Evans as The Man, and are trying to put together complementary pieces around him. So we shall see. 

Overall, this was a pretty accurate review. Good job, Mr. Young.


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