2020-21 Pacific Division Preview

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Welcome to the Ace NBA Preview of the Pacific division for the 2020-21 season. Let’s look at past seasons’ performance, this season’s odds for regular season wins, and offer our thoughts on each team. We’ll breakdown what changed year over year, what to expect for 72 games before the playoffs, and any handicapping angles we like. We’ll be doing one piece for each division, so follow @AceNBAPreviews on Twitter to find other division previews and make sure you get the ones to come as soon as possible.

Notable off-season moves

Out: Rajon Rondo, Danny Green, Dwight Howard, JaVale McGee
In: Dennis Schroder, Wesley Matthews, Montrez Harrell, Marc Gasol

The defending champions enter the season in better shape than last year. After struggling with depth last season, they have at least 10 solid players. Schroder joins the team and is immediately their best guard. Harrell is going to be a spark off the bench in pick and roll and in the post. Both are talented, impactful additions that give the Lakers 2 things they lacked last year. Marc Gasol will be an upgrade over last season’s starting centers. Hats off to the front office for finding ways to make key additions and improve the team after a title.

They are the favorite to win the championship and I agree. The Western conference continues to full of talented teams and most of the teams at the top of Eastern conference made big moves with a title in mind, but none of those teams have caught up with the Lakers. Lebron & Davis are still the best star pairing in the league and have more help than they needed to win it all in 2019-20. Despite all those nice words, there is no value in the betting markets. Future prices are too short and regular season win totals/% are tough with the potential for regular rest games for LeBron after a long season last year.

Will they make the Playoffs? Yes

Notable off-season moves

Out: Landry Shamet, Montrez Harrell, Maurice Harkless
Luke Kennard, Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum

After a disappointing season full of turmoil, the Clippers bring back a slightly improved roster to see if Kawhi Leonard & Paul George can bring home a trophy. Harrell was great off the bench last year, but he was tough to play in the playoffs because of his defensive shortcomings. Ibaka will be a good locker room influence, offer improved defense, and a little more space on offense as his 3 point shooting continues to get better. I’m excited to see how they integrate Luke Kennard and his shooting into the offense. He could end up being more impactful that expected. Overall, the Clippers should have a better roster and a season of lessons under their belt.

They are 2nd favorite to win the West and 4th favorite to win the Larry O’Brien. Win totals/% have them a game or so worse than their record last season. That all looks right to me based on their talent. They will be a not so dark horse pick to win the title all season, but the value to make a wager just doesn’t exist right now. If their odds to win it all get to 10-1 or better, I’ll likely make a bet assuming all the key players will be healthy for the playoffs.

One final thought, it’s unlikely, but there is a possibility this all falls apart and becomes a dumpster fire. If Tyronn Lue can’t settle down the locker room and they start the season poorly, things could get ugly fast. Again, unlikely, but I can’t get this distinct scenario out of my head.

Will they make the Playoffs? Yes

Notable off-season moves

Out: Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre Jr., Aaron Baynes
In: Chris Paul, Jaylen Smith, Jae Crowder, E’Twaun Moore

The NBA bubble darlings are back! After winning all 8 of their games in Orlando they made a big move. Chris Paul joins Devin Booker & Deandre Ayton to form a very interesting big 3. Will Chris Paul take some defensive stress of Booker and be the veteran to push him to the next level? Or will CP3 need the ball a little more than expected and push the youngsters too hard? I tend to believe the former and not the latter, but the questions bear asking.

Overall, they’re going to be a fun team every night and I expect them to land in the 7-10 slot for the Western conference play-in games. If they make the playoffs, I worry about Chris Paul’s body holding up, a lack of wing defenders, and how likely they are to see the Lakers, Clippers, or Nuggets round 1. It should be a fun regular season, but not much more than that. That leaves us with no options in the futures markets and the win total/% have them around the 8th seed in the West which is appropriate.

Will they make the Playoffs? Play-in candidate

Notable off-season moves

Out: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kent Bazemore
In: Tyrese Haliburton, Hassan Whiteside

As much as I love De’Aaron Fox, a few teams in the Western conference are going to lose a lot of games and the Kings are one of those teams. Fox leads a group of mostly disappointing former top 10 picks, Richaun Holmes, Hassan Whiteside, promising rookie Tyrese Haliburton, and not much else. Perhaps Marvin Bagely III will be healthy all season and finally fulfill a little of the potential that made him the #2 pick. Honestly, I was going to put a few optimistic questions here, and that’s all I’ve got outside of De’Aaron Fox becoming a top 10 player in the league and dragging this squad into contention. It’s as painful as it has ever been to support a Sacramento team that looked at their performance last year and decided to mostly stay pat. There is good news though, we can bet the under for their regular season win total or %!!! I’m betting their regular season win % to be under 40.5%. If you only have win totals, look for under 29 wins.

Will they make the Playoffs? No

Notable off-season moves

Out: Willie Cauley-Stein, Glenn Robinson III
In: James Wiseman, Kelly Oubre Jr., Kent Bazemore

Things looked to be finally clearing up for the Warriors after a season of injury and strife. Just before the draft, Klay Thompson tore his Achilles tendon and is out for the entire year. Instead of a reunion of Curry, Klay, and Green, Steph and Draymond are going to have integrate new players and re-establish the Warrior’s winning ways. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Kent Bazemore should provide help on the wings and Wiseman has the potential to be the best defensive big man in Golden State since Andrew Bogut. These changes should drive a more defensive mindset and an offense that doesn’t remind you of the peak days of the Splash Brothers.

There are just too many changes and far too much unknown about this team, how it wants to play, and how the pieces will come together for me to make any preseason wagers in the futures or win total/% markets. I expect them to be a playoff team, likely through the play-in games. One long term injury to Curry and things get ugly quickly.

Check your books to see if any offer odds on the player to lead the league in scoring. I was able to get Steph Curry 8 to 1 in that market. He’ll have a chance to shoot and score as much as he wants. As the season starts, I’m going to look for spots to bet unders in their games. Again, I expect them to be more defensively minded and it could take people some time to correct the image of the Warriors in their heads.

Will they make the Playoffs? Play-in candidate

*Pythagorean refers to the Pythagorean Expectation based on points scored and points allowed

Thanks for reading! You can reach us on Twitter at @AceNBAPreviews with any thoughts, questions, or general comments on this or anything NBA related. Be sure to follow us there and check back here for more NBA content throughout the season. Best of luck to us!

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Categories: NBA