We’ve reached the All-Star Break, that wonderful halfway point of the NBA season where teams get over a week off, things get festive, and the trade deadline looms. Teams now have to look at whether they’ll make that playoff push, or head down the tank.
And to get you caught up to speed, we’ll be reviewing how each team has stacked up this season compared to expectations, and where things are looking after the All-Star Break. This time, the Pacific Division.
Golden State Warriors (47-9, 1st in West)
Preseason Pick: 1st in West
We all knew it was coming, and yet still we’re somehow surprised. The Warriors are boat racing everyone, and are well on pace for around 69-70 wins. Sure, it’s not quite where they were last year, but this team is somehow only operating at 70-80% of full speed. I mean, Steph hasn’t even had the light come on yet. They are clearly the best in the NBA, and barring injury, this is the team to beat, like you didn’t know.
Biggest Question in Second Half: What will playoff time bring? The Warriors had a rough go of things in the postseason a year ago, going down 3-1 to the Thunder, struggling against the Rockets and Blazers, and finally blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cavaliers. This roster is great and overwhelming, but they were a year ago too and still bounced from the postseason. And this roster can’t justify a repeat of last year.
Worse or Better Than We Thought: Same
— NBA (@NBA) February 13, 2017
Los Angeles Clippers (35-21, 4th in West)
Preseason Pick: 2nd in West
The Clippers have been status quo this year, the same that we’ve come to expect for the Clips. But they’ve fallen on some hard times, and the injuries are once again the reason why they struggle. This time it’s Chris Paul, and his return is the only way the Clippers are contending for anything. But even that might not be enough without some lucky breaks along the way.
Biggest Question in the Second Half: Can CP3 get healthy? The Clippers are obviously only formidable when Chris Paul is healthy. And his return is expected near the time for the playoffs, but that’s not the question. The question is whether he can bet the same player. Because if there are any signs of rust, it’ll be another quick Clipper exit.
Worse or Better Than We Thought: Slightly Worse
Chris Paul has been medically cleared & could return as early as this week.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) February 23, 2017
Sacramento Kings (24-33, 9th in West)
Preseason Pick: 11th in West
Everything I was going to say about this team totally changed a couple days ago, and I’m sure you understand why. The Kings finally pulled the trigger and dealt DeMarcus Cousins ,effectively hitting the reset button on their franchise yet again, and moving back toward the bottom of the West. They looked like they could finally be a playoff team this year, but this has to signal a downshift and retooling ahead of next year.
Biggest Question in the Second Half: What comes next? With Cousins gone, the attention turns to Buddy Hield and the open tryouts for the rest of the team on who gets to stay. The Kings are blowing it up, and no one is safe. Nor should they be, especially the front office for making that ridiculous, stupid trade.
Worse or Better Than We Thought: Better (For Now)
In his 2 games in Sacramento as a member of the Pelicans, Buddy Hield said Kings owner Vivek Ranadive would say: ‘we’re still gonna get you’
— Sean Cunningham (@SeanCunningham) February 23, 2017
Los Angeles Lakers (19-39, 14th in West)
Preseason Pick: 12th in West
I was so happy for the Lakers when the season started and they put some people to shame. Luke Walton is a good head coach, and the Lakers looked promising early on. They’ve since come back to earth, and having the youth show is probably not the thing they wanted so far this year. And with the massive front office shakeup, the Lakers now have some reflections to make on this long road ahead.
Biggest Question in the Second Half: When does the youth take over? The Lakers are pretty far out of the playoff race, and never much planned on being there anyways. I know Luol Deng is there to grow Ingram, but when does the young kid get to take over? Russell hasn’t’ been as good this year, and handing the keys to some more young players wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Worse or Better Than We Thought: Worse
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 22, 2017
Phoenix Suns (18-39, 15th in West)
Preseason Pick: 15th in West
Let’s start with the positives: Devin Booker is the absolute, no joke real deal. He’s played about as well as you could expect for a guard that’s only 20 years old, and the Suns made a great choice in bringing him on. Now the bad: everything else. The Suns are really bad, and that’s almost at every level. They’re super young, and apparently every roster is available for trade anyways.
Biggest Question of the Second Half: Will they get the top pick? Yeah, I know, it sucks to talk about. But the Suns season is over, and they’re the now looking upwards. Could a top pick and a new star be at the top of the list? Or will they lose the lottery again?
Worse or Better Than We Thought: Same
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) February 19, 2017