NBA Offseason Preview: Pacific Division

NBA Offseason Preview: Pacific Division

This article is part of our NBA Offseason series.

With the 2022 NBA season officially over, we'll take a division-by-division look at the roster decisions and draft considerations all 30 teams will need to make over the summer. The NBA draft and free agency are just days away, so let's examine the Western Conference Pacific Division.

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors: The reigning champions, the majority of Golden State's bench is entering free agency, but the dynasty remains strong.

Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton's impending free agency is the only unknown. With or without him, an effective and clutch core remains. Phoenix choked in the Western Conference Semifinals after making the Finals a season prior.

Los Angeles Clippers: The books are cooked on this Clippers team, but a talented and deep cast of wings gives them one of the most interesting rosters in basketball. Kawhi Leonard will return after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. 

Los Angeles Lakers: LeBron James and Anthony Davis return. The Lakers don't have a draft selection in 2022 despite not appearing in the playoffs.

Sacramento Kings: Owners of the No. 4 pick in the upcoming 2022 NBA draft, Sacramento is looking for support around a homegrown backcourt and Domantas Sabonis.

Sacramento Kings

Potential departures: Jeremy Lamb, Josh Jackson, Donte DiVincenzo

Despite constantly struggling to compete at a high level, the Kings find themselves with a moderately talented roster and financial flexibility heading into future seasons. That being said, Sacramento finished with a bottom-seven offensive rating, defensive rating and

With the 2022 NBA season officially over, we'll take a division-by-division look at the roster decisions and draft considerations all 30 teams will need to make over the summer. The NBA draft and free agency are just days away, so let's examine the Western Conference Pacific Division.

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors: The reigning champions, the majority of Golden State's bench is entering free agency, but the dynasty remains strong.

Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton's impending free agency is the only unknown. With or without him, an effective and clutch core remains. Phoenix choked in the Western Conference Semifinals after making the Finals a season prior.

Los Angeles Clippers: The books are cooked on this Clippers team, but a talented and deep cast of wings gives them one of the most interesting rosters in basketball. Kawhi Leonard will return after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. 

Los Angeles Lakers: LeBron James and Anthony Davis return. The Lakers don't have a draft selection in 2022 despite not appearing in the playoffs.

Sacramento Kings: Owners of the No. 4 pick in the upcoming 2022 NBA draft, Sacramento is looking for support around a homegrown backcourt and Domantas Sabonis.

Sacramento Kings

Potential departures: Jeremy Lamb, Josh Jackson, Donte DiVincenzo

Despite constantly struggling to compete at a high level, the Kings find themselves with a moderately talented roster and financial flexibility heading into future seasons. That being said, Sacramento finished with a bottom-seven offensive rating, defensive rating and three-point percentage last season. Contention isn't exactly around the corner.

De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis are 24 and 26 years old, respectively. Davion Mitchell demonstrated serious talent when unleashed. The issue with Fox and Mitchell, and to a lesser importance Terence Davis, is that all three need the ball to best succeed. None were strengths as three-point shooters last season.

Elsewhere on the roster, Justin Holiday is a subpar 3-and-D wing, making it important to retain Donte DiVincenzo, if financially feasible. Richaun Holmes is on the books through 2025 and is a trade candidate currently. Packages centered around a Holmes for Duncan Robinson swap are logical. 

Harrison Barnes enters the final season of his contract. Iowa's Keegan Murray feels like the lottery selection. A fun, jumbo-wing scorer tandem forms here. Adding cheap depth in Caleb Martin or Cody Martin could prove savvy as much-needed wing-depth. Gary Payton or Montrezl Harrell would usher a culture defensively. Picks No. 37 and 49 need to swing for defensive upside.

Draft considerations: Keegan Murray, Walker Kessler, Jake LaRavia, Justin Lewis, Jabari Walker

Offseason considerations: Defense at backup point guard and wing spots, revamping the bench – potentially through a Holmes deal.

Los Angeles Lakers

Potential departures: Malik Monk, Carmelo Anthony, Wayne Ellington, Dwight Howard, Avery Bradley

LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Talen Horton-Tucker are the core. Stanley Johnson and Austin Reaves are likely to be retained. The Lakers' preview is short and sweet – a new cast of veteran minimum contracts is a LeBron James staple. 

Similar to Sacramento, supplementary shooting and widespread defensive intensity are the needs. Hitting on fringe, undrafted free agent candidates such as Tyrese Martin, Jared Rhoden, Jamal Cain, Ryan Turell, Justin Bean, etc. is the easiest way to inject energy. Each listed example comes with a modern, switchable build. Eli Brooks and Devante Jones also come to mind. Ron Harper would be a good fit if the Lakers acquire a pick.

Draft considerations: N/A

Offseason considerations: Wing depth, three-point threats at the one, two and four.

Los Angeles Clippers

Potential departures: Ivica Zubac, Isaiah Hartenstein, Amir Coffey

Kawhi Leonard (knee) returning to health alongside Paul George is arguably the most formidable two-way duo in the league. Norman Powell is overpaid, but he's an excellent shooter. Marcus Morris is overpaid, but a reliable shooter. Luke Kennard is also overpaid but it also a threat from deep (44.9 3P% on 6.0 attempts per game). Reggie Jackson is a fiery floor general. Robert Covington is a bull. Terance Mann is a valuable role player.

That deep cast could be leveraged into a different asset. John Collins? Jakob Poeltl? A scoring wing plus salary balancing could net the Clippers a late-first-round pick

The incumbent center position is heavily affected by the bleak cap situation. Ivica Zubac has a $7 million club option and Isaiah Hartenstein is an unrestricted free agent. Hartenstein is extremely underrated. Teams should try to poach him from the Clippers, forcing Los Angeles to make a choice based on market value. 

The Clippers had the sixth-worst offensive rating in the league last season, while having the third lowest rating in isolation offense. The return of Leonard from an ACL tear will help immensely, but the Clippers also ranked 28th in transition offense. More help will be needed for improvement in that department.

Picking at No.43, a point guard to timeshare behind Reggie Jackson (who is on an expiring contract) aligns. It would take a mega-slide down draft boards, but drafting Blake Wesley into an environment of shooters would make for an exciting addition. Resetting at the center position has appeal as well. Semi-polished players that would provide depth at these spots while not being stallers on offense is the mission.

Draft considerations: Ryan Rollins, Blake Wesley, Andrew Nembhard, Orlando Robinson, Ismael Kamagate

Offseason considerations: Tap into the stockpile of scoring wings, get an NBA asset or draft capital, re-sign one of Zubac or Hartenstein, efficient utilization of the taxpayer MLE.

Phoenix Suns

Potential departures: Deandre Ayton, JaVale McGee, Aaron Holiday

The Suns are being over-critiqued since a rapid, ugly exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks. Chris Paul getting torched defensively resulted in Phoenix losing equilibrium and never recovering. This squad is too well-rounded and effective not to have another run in them. The Suns finished 2021-22 with the league's best net rating, a top-five effective field-goal percentage and the fourth-lowest turnover percentage.

While Phoenix has no upcoming draft selection, moving into the second round is possible. The prospective new young piece would work behind Devin Booker and Chris Paul, while running next to Cameron Johnson, Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder – all five representing major assets. Torrey Craig returns cheaply. Twenty-eight-year-old Dario Saric (knee) missed all of last season and is on the trade block, but has been a valuable contributor throughout his career. Ditto all-around for Landry Shamet.

DeAndre Ayton and Suns' brass appear far apart on an extension, signaling a sign-and-trade could be coming. Ayton will be a noticeable loss, but Phoenix will be wise to reallocate that money elsewhere over time. If Ayton bolts, a new pick-and-roll partner for Paul will be necessary. Isaiah Hartenstein? Montrezl Harrell?

JaVale McGee is certainly a candidate to be retained, but depth at center would be a point to address regardless. An additional self-creator on offense would yield dividends in Phoenix's offense. 

Draft considerations: Moussa Diabate, Ibou Badji, Marcus Bingham, David Roddy, Jean Montero

Offseason considerations: Point forward, depth at the four/five positions, point guard depth

Golden State Warriors

Potential departures: Kevon Looney, Gary Payton, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Andre Iguodala, Nemanja Bjelica, Otto Porter

Despite the lengthy list of role players who may depart, there is historical precedent for Golden State and President of basketball Operations Bob Myers eating tax to keep the band together. Other franchises may overpay the likes of Payton, Porter and Toscano-Anderson, but Golden State will make due.

The core remains in place. Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole enter into contract years. Jonathan Kuminga, James Wiseman and Moses Moody are barely scratching the surface. The champions are well-positioned and hold picks 28, 51 and 57 in the upcoming draft. Bryce McGowens would be an electric padawan to the Splash Brothers. Matteo Spagnolo is one of the best foreign shooters in this class and will be available late. Shooting upside and athletic ceilings are the constant missions. A groomable point-forward fits the bill as well.

Draft considerations: Bryce McGowens, Kenneth Lofton, Max Christie, Matteo Spagnolo

Offseason considerations: Re-sign Payton and Looney, add power forward depth

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Henry Weinberg
Henry is a sports writer and analyst, specializing in NBA analysis, CBB coverage and draft prep. He's a freelance scout, passionate baseball fan, elite fantasy football player and former Butler Bulldog.
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