An Outlook on the NBA’s Pacific Division by Onkar Sandhu

Before the Celtics organized their “Big 3” in 2007 and prior to Pat Riley organizing his Big 3 in Florida’s South Beach in 2010, super teams in the modern era of professional basketball were seldom organized by players’ demands. Amid the rise of dynamic duos across today’s National Basketball Association, the Pacific Division finds itself at the center of the basketball universe.

The Los Angeles Lakers have overhaled their roster by trading away their young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart for All-NBA First Team power forward, Anthony Davis. The combination of two Superstars on one roster- Davis and perennial MVP candidate, Lebron James- would typically be the front runner to winning any division’s title. However, across the hall inside Staples Center, Doc Rivers’ resurgent Los Angeles Clippers have also acquired their own dynamic duo with two All-NBA superstars, Paul George and Kawaii Leonard. While the City of Angels may the current epicenter of the basketball universe, the future of the Pacific Division may rest on the shoulders of the sustainably designed Sacramento Kings. Assuming college phenom Zion Williamson can lead the New Orleans’ Pelicans into the playoffs and assuming Greg Popovich’s streak of consecutive playoff appearances with the San Antonio Spurs comes to an end this year, the Western Conference’s final playoff spot may very well be occupied by the Kings or Warriors, both belonging to the Pacific Division

Just like the Golden State Warriors slowly built their roster’s core of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green through the NBA draft, the Sacramento Kings have drafted and developed a young, promising core of potential superstars with Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, and John Wooden Award winner, Buddy Hield. With Kevin Durant’s departure to Brooklyn and Thompson’s torn ACL injury rendering him unavailable until well past the All-Star break, Golden State’s chances of a playoff berth are in question for the first time since the 2011-2012 season. This leaves the door open for the upstart Kings to crack the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-2006 season and to firmly establish themselves as a force to reckon with for the foreseeable future. If they are able to take advantage of this golden opportunity, the Kings may be able to better persuade upcoming free agents, such as Buddy Hield and Croatia’s Bojan Bogdanovic, to resign and stay in Sacramento. Despite the Kings’ overall youth, veterans Harrison Barnes and Trevor Ariza bring their playoff and championship pedigrees to guide the team through the season.

An NBA season is full of twists and turns with in season injuries and trades. Surprise superstars, like Jeremy Lin’s performance in the spring of 2012, can turn around the NBA landscape overnight. A rough start to the season can destine a team for the draft lottery even before Thanksgiving occurs. Despite all the uncertainties associate with professional basketball, the Sacramento Kings’ performance during the 2018-2019 season gives hope for a brighter tomorrow even before the season’s first shot goes through the net.

Cover art credit: https://worldinsport.com/2019-2020-nba-season-preview-pacific-division/

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