NBA Power Rankings 2010: Pacific Division After Free Agency
In years past, the NBA's Pacific Division has been among the weakest.
A division with no real depth after second place.
A division that sends three teams to the lottery on a regular basis.
That stigma might come to pass in the 2010-2011 season.
With each of the bottom three teams improving immensely (on paper at least), the Pacific figures to bounce back in a big way this upcoming fall.
5. Sacramento Kings
2009-2010 record: 25-57
Additions: C DeMarcus Cousins
Record prediction for 2010-2011: 32-50
Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari sure likes this team.
With two of his former All-Americans at the helm, not many people would question that Sacramento is on the rise.
Last season's Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans will welcome new weapon and the No. 5 pick in the draft, DeMarcus Cousins to Northern California.
Expect the Kings to pick up five to 10 wins per season for the next three or four years.
4. Los Angeles Clippers
2009-2010 record: 29-53
Key additions: G Randy Foye, F Al-Farouq Aminu, G Eric Bledsoe
Key losses: None
Record prediction for 2010-2011: 39-43
After striking out in the summer's free agency madness, LA's other team will still add two huge pieces to its lineup in the fall: Blake Griffin and Al-Farouq Aminu.
Kind of a technicality, but the Clippers should have the best rookie tandem in the league.
With Griffin, 2009's No. 1 overall pick, missing the entirety of last season, he is still considered by the NBA as a rookie.
Although the roster might be missing one final piece, not many people would surprised if this team made a run at the seventh or eighth seed in the West.
Overall, a good, young nucleus (one that is a year or two away from a big jump in the standings), will lead the Clippers to 10 extra wins this season.
3. Golden State Warriors
2009-2010 record: 26-56
Key additions: F David Lee, F Ekpe Udoh
Key losses: F Anthony Randolph, F Kelenna Azubuike, F Ronny Turiaf, G Anthony Morrow
Record prediction for 2010-2011: 40-42
Golden State landed the most underrated free agent of 2010: David Lee.
A versatile scoring machine, there's not much Lee didn't do on a horrible New York Knicks team.
Combine him with up-and-coming star Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, and you've got yourself a serious team.
Each of the Warriors' "big three" compliments the others' playing styles.
It may be a reach, but Curry and Lee could begin to form a Nash-Stoudemire type game.
2. Phoenix Suns
2009-2010 record: 54-28
Key additions: F Hedo Turkoglu, F Josh Childress, F Hakim Warrick
Key losses: C Amar'e Stoudemire
Record prediction for 2010-2011: 50-32
What the Suns lost in Stoudemire's offensive brilliance, they gained in his departure from their defense.
Hoping to fill the shoes of Stat, Phoenix will start Turkoglu and bring Childress and Warrick off the bench with the hands down, best second-unit in the NBA.
The Suns will take a small step back in the regular season but still could find themselves with a high seed in the playoffs in an extremely congested Western Conference.
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2009-2010 record: 57-25
Key additions: G Steve Blake
Key losses: None
Record prediction for 2010-2011: 54-28
The champs are still the champs.
As long as the Lakers have Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, they will have what it takes to win another title.
However, with the rest of the West (Oklahoma City, Portland and so on) getting better, Los Angeles might be the most vulnerable it has been in recent history.
Although it will take 52 wins just to make the playoffs in the West, the Lakers will edge out the field and finish the regular season on top.