In Hoops Prospects’ continuing series of NBA previews, I take a look at the Pacific Division in the Western Conference, summarizing each teams’ key additions, key departures, and other developments. The teams are listed based on my predicted order of finish within the division.
The projected depth charts come directly from Hoops Prospects, and are based on who is likely to play the most minutes this season. We update the depth charts regularly throughout the year. Click here for an explanation of the various depth-chart notations.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
- Record last season: 42-40 (8th in West)
- Offensive Rating: 109.5 (25th)
- Defensive Rating: 109.5 (8th)
- Net Rating: 0.0 (18th)
Key Departures: Isaiah Hartenstein, Rodney Hood
Key Additions: John Wall
Key Rookies: Moussa Diabate
Projected Depth Chart
|Reggie Jackson||Paul George||Kawhi Leonard||Nicolas Batum||Marcus Morris|
|John Wall||Luke Kennard||Norman Powell||Robert Covington||Ivica Zubac|
|Jason Preston||Terance Mann||Brandon Boston||Amir Coffey||Moussa Diabate **|
|Moses Brown **|
With the return of Kawhi Leonard and the addition of much-needed point guard John Wall, the Los Angeles Clippers look to finally reach the championship goal that they set years ago when Paul George joined the team in 2019. The Clippers’ performance last year was impressive, given their injury issues, as Coach Tyron Lue was able to lead the club into the play-in games. In the offseason, the Clippers re-signed forward Robert Covington to a team friendly two-year, 24-million dollar extension. They failed to extend backup center Isaiah Hartenstien, losing him to the New York Knicks via free agency.
The Clippers are versatile on both ends of the floor. Wall is another shot creator and versatile defender besides George and Lenoard, and the veteran guard can take pressure off the dynamic duo. Norman Powell is the X-factor for this team. He was great when acquired last year from the Portland Trail Blazers, though he played only five games before getting injured; he averaged 21.4 points on a scorching 54.2 percent from three. Powell will have the ball less with the addition of Wall and return of Leonard, but he will prove to be one of the most important pieces and should be an early Sixth Man of the Year favorite. Defensive versatility should get basketball enthusiasts excited. Covington is another asset who is accustomed to being a small-ball five, which will be necessary for the playoffs. The Clippers should be an early favorite for coming out of the West, and have the talent to overtake the Golden State Warriors to win the division.
2. Golden State Warriors
- Record last season: 53-29 (3rd in West)
- Offensive Rating: 112.1 (16th)
- Defensive Rating: 106.6 (2nd)
- Net Rating: 5.5 (4th)
Key Departures: Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson, Nemanja Bjelica, Damion Lee
Key Additions: Donte DiVencenzo, JaMychal Green
Key Rookies: Patrick Baldwin (pick 28), Ryan Rollins (pick 44)
Projected Depth Chart
|Stephen Curry||Klay Thompson||Andrew Wiggins||Draymond Green||James Wiseman|
|Donte DiVincenzo||Jordan Poole||Moses Moody||JaMychal Green||Kevon Looney|
|Ryan Rollins||Ty Jerome **||Andre Iguodala||Jonathan Kuminga||Patrick Baldwin Jr.|
|Anthony Lamb **|
The reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors unsurprisingly decided to run it back with the same core of players. Led by multiple-time NBA champions Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, the Warriors are in a great position to have another deep playoff run. Thompson had a healthy off-season for the first time in almost three years, giving him a chance to return to his old form after coming back mid-season. The Warriors lost some of their depth in Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. To compensate for their losses, they signed Donte DiVencenzo from the Sacramento Kings and JaMychal Green from the Denver Nuggets to replace some of their production.
Despite how deep the Western Conference has become, the Warriors are in a good position to be in contention for the foreseeable future. Jordan Poole, one of the Warriors’ best players, received a well-deserved four-year, 140-million dollar extension. Andrew Wiggins also re-signed for the long term after his All-Star season, signing a four-year, 109-million dollar extension. Second-year pro James Wiseman is a player who shows the potential to be one of the premier modern bigs in the NBA, but he is still behind veteran center Kevon Looney on the depth chart. Wiseman outplayed Looney in the preseason, averaging 15 points while shooting 67 percent from the field while playing impressive interior defense. Players such as Moses Moody and Johnathan Kuminga, young and up-and-coming former lottery picks, will be looking for their opportunity to make their name in the NBA.
Look for potential trades for the Warriors, depending on how this season goes, and you might see their aging dominant championship core break up so that their young players get their opportunity. The player most likely moved this season would be Draymond Green, as he is an upcoming free agent and will look for a near max extension. Green’s 28-million player option will put the team well past the luxury tax line if he remains on the roster next season. The Warriors are unlikely to meet his price after signing Poole and Wiggins to pricey extensions.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
- Record last season: 33-49 (11th in West)
- Offensive Rating: 110.0 (22nd)
- Defensive Rating: 112.8 (21st)
- Net Rating: -2.9 (22nd)
Key Departures: Malik Monk, Talen Horton-Tucker, Stanley Johnson, Carmelo Anthony, Avery Bradley, Kent Bazemore, Dwight Howard, Wayne Ellington
Key Additions: Dennis Schroder, Patrick Beverly, Lonnie Walker, Damian Jones, Thomas Bryant, Troy Brown, Juan Toscano-Anderson
Key Rookies: Max Christie (pick 35)
Projected Depth Chart
|Dennis Schröder||Patrick Beverley||Russell Westbrook||LeBron James||Anthony Davis|
|Austin Reaves||Kendrick Nunn||Lonnie Walker||Juan Toscano-Anderson||Damian Jones|
|Max Christie||Troy Brown||Matt Ryan||Wenyen Gabriel||Thomas Bryant|
|Scotty Pippen Jr. **||Cole Swider **|
After coming off an injury-riddled and overall disappointing year, the Los Angeles Lakers look to bounce back with a revamped roster. The front office attempted to create a more athletic team, signing Lonnie Walker, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Damian Jones. They added Patrick Beverly via trade with the Utah Jazz, a proven leader and aggressive defender, who has contributed to teams that have been to the playoffs, such as the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Clippers. Dennis Schroder was also signed in an unlikely reunion after the reported contract debacle the last time that he was a Laker, and his season is already off to a rough start due to a finger injury. The same goes for center Thomas Bryant, who is out with a thumb injury.
Although the additions seem promising on paper, the Lakers are a team with far more issues than athleticism. Shooting is one of the worst aspects of this team, and none of their additions directly help with this. Considering this is a LeBron James-led team, a player most successful with shooters around him, the Lakers did not address this aspect appropriately. The biggest issue the team faces is fit. Russell Westbrook, hopefully their secondary ball handler, has not adjusted well to playing off the ball, and his poor fit with the team has dominated the offseason headlines for good reason. Westbrook’s lack of shooting and inefficient shot creation hurts the team, and with the lack of additions to help Westbrook, this presumably will not change. The Lakers might not be contenders, but they do have the talent to make the play-in and possibly the playoffs if Anthony Davis stays healthy. Davis has been disappointing since his first season with the Lakers, but he seems determined to stay on the floor after working on his body this offseason. If this comes to fruition, you can not count this team out.
4. Phoenix Suns
- Record last season: 64-18 (1st in West)
- Offensive Rating: 114.2 (5th)
- Defensive Rating: 106.8 (3rd)
- Net Rating: 7.5 (1st)
Key Departures: JaVale Mcgee, Aaron Holiday, Elfrid Payton, Jae Crowder (trade block)
Key Additions: Josh Okogie, Damion Lee, Jock Landale
Key Rookies: None
Projected Depth Chart
|Chris Paul||Devin Booker||Mikal Bridges||Cameron Johnson||Deandre Ayton|
|Cameron Payne||Landry Shamet||Torrey Craig||Dario Saric||Jock Landale|
|Duane Washington **||Damion Lee||Josh Okogie||Jae Crowder||Bismack Biyombo|
|Ish Wainright **|
On paper, the Phoenix Suns have a championship-contending roster. Devin Booker and Chris Paul are one of the best backcourts in the NBA. The Suns re-signed Deandre Ayton, a young and talented big man who has proven to be a reliable mid-range scorer and a lob threat for Paul. The Suns’ core is surrounded by good three-and-D players such as Jae Crowder and Mikal Bridges. With that said, the Suns could not have handled their talented roster worse. The offseason was dominated by trade rumors involving Ayton, and he agreed to a restricted free-agent deal with the Indiana Pacers. Of course, Ayton wasn’t traded, and the Suns matched the Pacers’ offer. Ayton is not hiding his frustration, and his relationship with Coach Monty Williams seems strained at best. Also, a disgruntled Crowder has demanded a trade and is currently not with the team. Even with Crowder, the Suns’ depth is questionable.
With the offcourt issues still looming, the Suns may have allowed their championship window to close. Paul will likely show his age more this season than he did in the Western Conference Semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks. His contract is not sought after either, though only 15.8 million is guaranteed for the 2023-2024 season. Moving Crowder could bring in a quality asset, but the team is allowing this situation to drag on. Additionally, Ayton cannot be traded until December 15th. It might be tough to salvage this roster by the time the realization of this necessity hits the Suns’ front office.
The Suns’ roster is still very talented on paper, which means we cannot completely count them out for the playoffs. Regardless, the team is unlikely to retain their number-one seeding of last year. Williams, the reigning Coach of the Year, will likely need to change his mid-range guard-focused offense to have a chance of success this season. With disgruntled players, aging stars, an outdated offense, and little depth, the Suns look like a play-in tournament team this season and will likely revamp their roster in 2023.
5. Sacramento Kings
- Record last season: 30-52 (12th in West)
- Offensive Rating: 109.6 (24th)
- Defensive Rating: 114.8 (27th)
- Net Rating: -5.2 (25th)
Key Departures: Donte DiVincenzo, Justin Holiday, Maurice Harkless, Jeremy Lamb, Damian Jones, Josh Jackson
Key Additions: Malik Monk, Kevin Huerter, Matthew Dellavedova, Chima Moneke, KZ Okpala
Key Rookies: Keegan Murray (pick 4)
Projected Depth Chart
|De’Aaron Fox||Kevin Huerter||Harrison Barnes||Keegan Murray||Domantas Sabonis|
|Davion Mitchell||Malik Monk||KZ Okpala||Trey Lyles||Richaun Holmes|
|Matthew Dellavedova||Terence Davis||Chima Moneke||Chimezie Metu||Alex Len|
|Keon Ellis **||Neemias Queta **|
With the luck of the lottery on their side, the Sacramento Kings selected Keegan Murray with the fourth overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. With the star forward out of Iowa, the Kings now have more switchability. Pairing Murray in the front court with matchup nightmare Domantas Sabonis gives the team a formidable frontcourt. Murray seemingly is taking advantage of the new spacing in the NBA, not only playing well in the summer league but also shooting a scorching 70 percent from three in preseason. In the offseason, the Kings were aggressive, signing Malik Monk from the Los Angeles Lakers and trading for proven scorer Kevin Huerter from the Atlanta Hawks. Combine the new additions with the duo of De’Aaron Fox and Sabonis, and the Kings have the look of a competitive club.
The Kings got better, but so did the Western Conference. The team is looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006, a record-breaking drought of 16 seasons. New Head Coach Mike Brown has his work cut out for him, but the Kings can sneak into the postseason if clubs such as the Lakers and the Trail Blazers fall flat. The team’s offensive potential might be enough for a play-in spot in the West at least. Fox and Sabonis fit great on paper, and when they were on the court together last season, they were solid. The additional pieces acquired to support the duo add to the club’s firepower. Sacramento fans should not have big expectations, but if nothing else, the Kings should be exciting to watch and more competitive than last year.
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements
Statistics used in our scouting reports come from RealGM.com (international and NBA stats), Sports-Reference.com (NCAA and NBA stats), and Synergy Sports Technology (special analytics). Other outside sources are noted with links to the source. Click here to see the statistical abbreviation key.