Pacific Division Preview: Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, L.A. Clippers, in 3-Way Fight
The Golden State Warriors are the defending NBA champions, but the Los Angeles Clippers are the betting favorite to win the Pacific Division at +180 odds ahead of the Warriors (+205), Phoenix Suns (+225), and L.A. Lakers (+800).
The Suns won the Pacific Division in each of the last two seasons, and attempt a three-peat amidst a maelstrom of drama surrounding team owner Robert Saver. The NBA suspended Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million for racist remarks and promoting a toxic work place rampant with misogyny. Sarver announced he intends to sell the Suns, and Forbes projected the sale could fetch at least $2.5 billion.
2022-23 NBA PACIFIC DIVISION ODDS
- Los Angeles Clippers +180
- Golden State Warriors +205
- Phoenix Suns +225
- Los Angeles Lakers +800
- Sacramento Kings +40000
** Odds via DraftKings
The Pacific Division has three NBA championship contenders, but any team LeBron James plays on is always a title contender, so you can add the L.A. Lakers to the mix.
After the Boston Celtics suspended head coach Ime Udoka for the upcoming season due to a violation of team conduct, oddsmakers at DraftKings installed the Clippers are the new outright favorite to win the 2022-23 NBA championship at +550 odds at DraftKings.
The Warriors are +600 odds to repeat as NBA champions. The Suns are +1200 odds to win the first-ever NBA championship. LeBron and the Lakers are +1600 odds to win a second title since 2020.
Los Angeles Clippers +180
The Clippers are the consensus favorite to win the Pacific at +180 odds, but they’re seeking their first division crown since the 2013-14 season. Health is the key to success for the Clippers this season because all of their key players are returning from an injury of some kind.
The Clippers hope to bounce back this season after Kawhi Leonard returns from an ACL injury. Leonard missed all of last season, and he’s excited to get back to the court. Paul George missed significant time last season with an elbow injury, and he’s 100% fully recovered.
The Clippers acquired Norman Powell prior to last season’s trade deadline from the Portland Trail Blazers. Powell fractured his foot and only played five games with the Clippers. This season, Powell will anchor the second unit along with John Wall. Wall has been plagued with injuries and last played a full season in 2016-17. The former #1 pick in the NBA Draft does not have to carry the team, but he could provide an instant scoring boost off the bench if he can remain healthy.
The Clippers have the highest projected win total out of any Pacific teams at 52.5 o/u.
Golden State Warriors +205
The Warriors rattled off five-straight Pacific Division titles between 2015 and 2019. With 53 wins last season, the Warriors finished second in the Pacific and earned the #3 playoff seed. They ran the table in the postseason to win a fourth championship since 2015.
Steve Kerr and the Warriors are more concerned about repeating as NBA champions than winning the division outright, which is why they’re only +205 odds to win the Pacific title. The Warriors won 53 games last season, and they have a projected win total of 51.5 o/u this upcoming season.
Andrew Wiggins was the x-factor in last year’s postseason. Steph Curry gets all the credit and won NBA Finals MVP, but Wiggins played stellar defense down the stretch and posted a couple of huge offensive games when a rusty Klay Thompson or Curry went cold.
Jordan Poole is the third “Splash Brother” and the Warriors will like to rely on Poole to carry the team during the regular season in order to nor wear out Curry and Thompson.
James Wiseman also returns from a knee injury. With Draymond Green getting another year older, the Warriors need a consistent season from Wiseman if they expect to win back-to-back championships.
Phoenix Suns +225
It’s been a long summer for the Suns after they were throttled by Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The Suns were embarrassed with a 33-point loss, but they were down by as many as 46 points. Hopefully ESPN will produce a 30 for 30 documentary on what caused the implosion because we still do not know exactly what went wrong.
The entire Sarver mess will also hang over the Suns this season like a dark cloud. It’s up to head coach Monty Williams to inspire the team to rise above the Sarver scandal, otherwise it’s going to be a long and disastrous season.
The Suns finished about .700 in the last two seasons under Williams, who won the NBA Coach of the Year honors last season. With a 64-18 record last season, the Suns posted the best record in the NBA. They locked up the #1 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs, but were met their inevitable fate in the conference semifinal.
The Suns signed Deandre Ayton to a contract extension, but we’ll see if he still has any bad blood between himself and Williams. In their Game 7 elimination versus the Mavs, Williams benched Ayton for unknown reasons. Fans hope the two can patch up their beef and move on.
The Suns will ride or die based on the health of aging superstar Chris Paul, unless Devin Booker carries the team for huge stretches this season. Booker averaged a career-high 26.8 ppg last season while knocking down a career-best 30.3% of his 3-pointers.
You can back the Suns at +225 odds to win the Pacific Division for a third-straight season.
Los Angeles Lakers +800
There’s never a dull day with the Lakers. LeBron James will try to break Kareem Abdu-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record, but he’s also trying to win another title for Jeanie Buss before injuries derail another season for the Lakers.
LeBron missed 53 games over the last two seasons, which wouldn’t be such a big deal if Anthony Davis wasn’t prone to injuries. Davis missed 50% of the regular season in the last two years, including 42 games last season. When LeBron and Davis are healthy, the Lakers are a legit title contender.
Russell Westbrook is the other big storyline to watch. Will Westbrook modify his game to fit in with the Lakers under new head coach Darvin Ham? Or will the Lakers finally find a team willing to take Westbrook off their hands in a trade? Acquiring Westbrook in a trade with the Washington Wizards last offseason backfired when he didn’t mesh with the team. Westbrook earns a super-max salary, which makes him undesirable on the trade market, so the Lakers have no other choice but to stick with him.
If Westbrook and the Lakers finally get on the same page, they could surpass their projected win total of 45.5 o/u. However, that seems like a pipe dream. Expect another disappointing season with Davis spending time on the IL, constant trade rumors, and Westbrook’s awful shooting getting viciously trolled by fans with his “Westbrick” nickname. At least LeBron’s pursuit of the NBA scoring record will keep things interesting in Hollywood this season.
The Lakers are +800 odds to win the Pacific, but the division is so competitive that they could still finish in fourth place.
Sacramento Kings +40000
The Sacramento Kings dominated the Pacific Division twenty years ago when they won back-to-back division titles. The Kings have the longest playoff drought in the NBA at 16 seasons and counting. New head coach Mike Brown is on a mission to help restore the Kings to their former glory. It will not happen right away, but the Kings will try to climb out of the Western Conference basement this season.
With a 30-52 record last season, the Kings were ranked #12 in the Western Conference and missed a chance at the Play-In Tournament. The Kings have the lowest projected win total in the Pacific at 33.5 o/u.
At +40000 odds, the Kings are a long shot to win the Pacific. At least they have fun players to watch. The Kings selected Keegan Murray with the fourth-overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, and the incoming rookie won the NBA Summer League MVP in Las Vegas.
No one wants to sign free agent deals to play in Sacramento, so the Kings utilized trades to bolster their squad. They acquired All-Star Domantas Sabonis from the Indiana Pacers, and sharpshooter Kevin Huerter from the Atlanta Hawks. The entire team is anchored by De’Aaron Fox, who averaged 23.2 ppg last season.
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