So we have a three-game (Lakers needed four games to finally win) sample by which to judge the Pacific Division. I don’t think anything in the first week surprised anyone: The Kings are losing, the Lakers are working things out, and the rest of the division is about average.
Sacramento Kings (0-3)
They lost their first three games on the road to Chicago, Indiana, and Minnesota. They are finally at home tonight against division rival Golden State and hope to get win #1 behind them. No one on the Kings has played better than expected. DeMarcus Cousins will likely step things up and continue to be a force, but beyond that the Kings are full of question marks. How much can you expect from a team that starts James Johnson? They will likely stay at the bottom of the Pacific Division for quite some time.
Phoenix Suns (1-2)
Just like the Lakers, the Suns only win is at home against the Pistons. Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat are putting up numbers on both ends but their perimeter players are shooting poorly. Beasley and Dragic both look to be 15 ppg scorers this season but are shooting 41%. Jared Dudley has struggled from deep (1-9) and can’t seem to get anything going. Those 5 have to play above themselves all season or this team is going nowhere. Rookie PG Kendall Marshall has played less than a minute this season. They have some solid pieces, but no young star in the making. Will the Suns be yet another team stuck in perennial mediocrity?
Golden State Warriors (2-1)
They went down to LA on Saturday and gave the Clippers their first loss of the season as David Lee told Blake Griffin to “stop flopping.” They were without center Andrew Bogut, his minutes are being limited and he’s not playing the 2nd of any back to back games until he’s 100%. Brandon Rush is done for the season (ACL). Despite that, the Warriors are showing the league they can play. Carl Landry wants to be sixth man of the year, he’s averaging 20 and 7 through three games. David Lee hasn’t scored much, but he continues to do all the right things. And Curry and Thompson are beginning to find their strokes and develop some chemistry. This team as weapons and plays hard every night.
LA Clippers (2-1)
I think Jamal Crawford is trying to tell us something. He can still play ball, and he can flat out score (25 ppg). While Griffin and CP3 are holding it down for Lob City, Crawford is raising eyebrows, and breaking ankles, once again. The Clippers were the new hot thing last year, and now suddenly they are deep and experienced. We know about their obvious talent. Billups, Odom, and Grant Hill are household names but have yet to contribute much. Hill and Billups have yet to see the court. If those guys have meaningful minutes left in them the Clippers can take the next step. If not, they will still be one of the most exciting teams in the league.
LA Lakers (1-3)
Lakers fans finally took a breath. They beat the Pistons. Really beat the Pistons. They took advantage of the Pistons' weaknesses and did all the right things. They pushed the ball up the court and got it inside early and often. Sounds perfect for a team that has Steve Nash. Oh but he’s injured. Sounds perfect for a team that has Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. There we go. They had 56 points in the paint and were able to open things up for their perimeter shooters and had no problem looking better on defense. The Pistons are a good team to play when you’re trying to build confidence. The Lakers look to do the same against the Jazz, Warriors, and Kings in their next three games. Their hand is off the panic button, but it’s still within reach.