When I am not writing Vlade Divac fan fiction, I like to watch and discuss basketball. For "The Kings Homer''s NBA Preview" I will not only preview the teams, but do so through purple tinted goggles. Instead of throwing out a random number and calling that my prediction, I want to break it down team by team and see where I end up.
Each post in this five part series I will be joined by one of my colleagues, who will offer their own take. So without further to do, I bring you the first installment as Akis and I break down the Pacific division.
Key Addition(s): Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, Lance Stephenson
Deandre Jordan, Matt Barnes, Spencer Hawes
BRAD: DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley Stein/Kosta Koufos vs Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan
AKIS: Rajon Rondo vs. Chris Paul
BRAD: I don't know if you can call two teams who have literally never played an important game against each other rivals, but if you ask the Kings, or, at least DeMarcus Cousins, he will tell you that there is something there. Things between these two teams have been known to get a tad bit chippy
. You could probably make a feature length YouTube of Boogie's history with the Clippers. Point is, the Kings do not like the Clippers. If all goes well, this very well could be the first time since 2006, and second time in history that these two teams are relevant at the same time, so I expect some exciting matchups between these two teams. With more depth at nearly every position than they had last years, I think the Kings can do very well against the Clippers, who, barring something unforeseen, should be fighting for the top seed. We will see soon enough how these teams fare against one another, as the two face off twice in the first three games.
AKIS: It's weird but I think the Clippers got better this summer and will end up with a worse record than they did last year. They upgraded the bench and should still be a pretty good team. As for how they play with the Kings, I still think the Kings match up well with them and there's the added benefit that we hate them. But seriously, is there an NBA team out there that doesn't hate the Clippers?
Who Takes the Series?:
BRAD: Kings get the split 2-2
AKIS: Kings split series 2-2
Key Addition(s): Jason Thompson
Key Subtraction(s): David Lee
BRAD: Seth vs. Steph
AKIS: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Andrew Bogut
BRAD: After a moderately successful campaign by the Golden State Warriors last year, the Kings will be out for blood. The Warriors didn't just beat the Kings four times last year, they wiped the floor with them. Whether it was Klay Thompson dropping 37 in a quarter, or Festus Ezeli having his coming out, the series last year was about as one sided as a series can get. Beyond the natural geographical reasons, there are a couple of added elements that make this matchup interesting this year. The obvious one is Seth Curry's decision to come here, just 90 minutes away from where his MVP brother plays. As such, should he get the opportunity, I believe we could get some fun little matchups between the two brothers. The other interesting one will be Jason Thompson, who, after briefly being sent home to Philadelphia, is now a Warrior. I expect there to be at least one revenge game from J.T. Eight years of everything Jason went through seems like a recipe for that sort of thing. Still, the Warriors are mostly the same team, sans David Lee, and, while I believe they will have a championship hangover, I expect them to be tough to beat.
AKIS: I think the Warriors are going to drop off a little bit record wise this year but will probably still end up with one of the best records in the NBA, if not the best. They had some very good injury luck last year and teams will want to play extra hard to beat the champs this year. Every game they play will be one of the biggest games of the year for the other team. That being said, I still think the Kings will be hard pressed to win a game against them this year. While I don't think we'll see the Kings being blown out quite as often as they were last year, I do think the Warriors have too many weapons and far more experience playing together.
Who Takes the Series?:
BRAD: Warriors Take the series 3-1
AKIS: Warriors sweep 4-0
Key Addition(s): Tyson Chandler, Mirza Teletovic
Key Subtraction(s): Marcus Morris
BRAD: Rajon Rondo/Darren Collison vs. Eric Bledsoe/Brandon Knight
AKIS: Rudy Gay vs. Markieff Morris
BRAD: After a disappointing season last year, considering their resurgence the previous year, Phoenix seemed to put all their chips into the LaMarcus Aldridge sweepstakes. A sweepstakes they obviously did not win. In the process they broke up the Morris twins, though Markieff claims to be back on board with the team. They did bring in veteran big man Tyson Chandler, who showed off some amazing acting ability against Boogie last year. The Suns do have some interesting pieces, however. The point guard matchup, both starting and off the bench should be a fun one, as there are four players who are very good at what they do playing between these two teams. The Kings had Phoenix's number last year, going 3-1 against the Suns, each win coming with a different man coaching the Kings. With the Kings improvement, and, in my opinion, the Suns regression, I believe the Kings will once again have the Suns number.
AKIS: I think the Suns will end up suffering one of the biggest drop-offs in the entire league this year. Tyson Chandler's a decent addition, but his addition was really meant to entice LaMarcus Aldridge. On the team as currently constructed, Chandler's presence seems unnecessary. This is a team that should be focusing on its young core. This is a team in transition and I think there are going to be some serious changes through the year for them. Sacramento should be able to take care of business against the Suns.
Who Takes the Series?:
BRAD: Kings sweep the Suns, 4-0
AKIS: Kings sweep, 4-0
Key Addition(s): Lou Williams, Roy Hibbert, D'Angelo Russell
Key Subtraction(s): Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin, Steve Nash
BRAD: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Roy Hibbert, Ben McLemore vs. Kobe Bryant
AKIS: Kings bench vs. Lakers bench
BRAD: Having the Lakers be the least exciting Pacific matchup is still strange to me, but it's hard to argue otherwise. While I believe the Lakers are a better team on paper, I think improvement of other teams, and Kobe's questionable bill of health the last few years make it hard to give them more than a few extra wins. Watching Boogie manhandle Hibbert up to four times this year should be fun, and watching a team with Kobe, Nick Young, and Lou Williams sharing one ball should be an interesting watch, but, while the Lakers are better, their young pieces are still too young, their centerpiece is too old, and their roster is too all over the place. I expect them to be in more games, but I expect the Kings to take this series.
AKIS: I actually think this Lakers team is going to be better than some think. As you can see, I think they will actually be better than the Suns this year. Hibbert's a real defensive presence, and they have a ton of offensive firepower, especially in the backcourt. Julius Randle's a nice young talent as well and if not for a stupid rule (he played 1 game last year), he'd probably be a frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. Still, the Kings should be able to win most of their matchups with the Lakers, but there's bound to be one game where Lou Williams or someone catches fire from three and it proves too much.
Who Takes the Series?:
BRAD: Kings take the series, 3-1
AKIS: Kings take the series, 3-1