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Tag:Season Previews
Posted on: October 22, 2010 11:52 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 11:53 pm

Pacific Division preview: Who's second best?

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.
Posted on: October 20, 2010 7:19 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2010 8:36 pm

Central Division preview

Posted by Royce Young

Read Ken Berger's full Central Division preview

The Burning Question: Will this be the worst division in the league?

At first look, yes, it is. In fact, I looked two more times and yes, it still is.

There's just one team that appears capable of actually doing anything substantial. Now everyone is staring at the Bulls assuming there's a roster there that is ready to finish in the top four in the East and potentially push for the Eastern Conference Finals. But here's reality: We don't know a lot about that Bulls team.

Historically, they've underachieved a bit in what are supposed to be big breakout years. Carlos Boozer is a very nice addition and pairing him inside with Joakim Noah is lovely. But is that addition really all the Bulls needed to get over the hump? Forget the Boozer acquisition, the biggest thing for the Bulls is about Derrick Rose's maturation.

If he starts evolving into an MVP-style candidate the way he's talking, then yes, the Bulls will be there. But as for the rest of these teams? The Bucks are a group people are expecting something out of, but are they really a 50-win squad? Playoffs, yes. But true contender when their only offseason move was getting Drew Gooden, Corey Maggette and 14 other power forwards? Plus, Andrew Bogut has said he's maybe not even healthy, so that's not a big helper.

Other than the apparent top two in the Central, there's a big dropoff. The Pacers are on another crash course to win 30 games, the Cavs will be lucky to stay competitive and the Pistons are standing next to a cliff with one foot hanging off.

Now of course you could look at the Atlantic Division which has a big-time lineup of Boston, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Toronto and make a really strong case that group will be worse. And I'm not sure I could disagree with you. But at least the Atlantic has the Celtics, a team you know will be involved deep into the postseason. The Central has the Bulls, a team we all sort of kind of think will be. Big difference.
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