Posted by Royce Young
Read Ken Berger's full Pacific Division preview
One Burning Question: Who's the second best player in the Pacific?
I read something interesting by a columnist in Los Angeles earlier in the week. To summarize, basically he said Blake Griffin was the second best player in LA. Not "going to be" or "at some point will be." Nope. Right now, Griffin is one slot behind Kobe Bryant. So if Griffin is the second best player in LA, could he be the second best in the entire division?
(To refresh in case you don't have the depth charts in front of you, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Steve Nash, Baron Davis, Stephen Curry, David Lee, Monta Ellis and Tyreke Evans all play in the Pacific.)
I love Blake Griffin. Love everything about him. I'm an Oklahoman, went to the University of Oklahoma when Blake was there and even played little league baseball with his brother Taylor. I'm a total Blake Griffin homer. But second best in LA or the entire Pacific Divison? No. I mean, no. No way.
But the thing is, this is an open question. Griffin isn't in that slot, though I certainly think he'll be able to lay claim to that and probably in the near future, will be able to say he's the top dog in the town. But behind Kobe, figuring out who would be No. 2 isn't easy. Gasol has a great case. So does Steve Nash who has two MVP trophies. Then there's Tyreke Evans who is absolutely ridiculous. In terms of pure, young basketball talent, you're going to find plenty in the Pacific.
Since I'm asking the question, I'll give you my answer: Pau Gasol. But that's an incredibly close call with Evans. In fact, give me 10 minutes and I might change my mind. Nash is great, but not what he once was. Stephen Curry could be that guy, but he's not there yet. Baron Davis certainly looks like it some nights, but on others you wonder if he's even the second best player on his own team.
At the end of the season, this question might have a clearer answer. Heck, it could easily be Blake Griffin. In fact, I feel like the odds are pretty good there because Griffin is an absolutely insane basketball talent. But now? You've got to go with what you know and right now, we now that Pau Gasol is pretty stinking fantastic.