It is time to throw away the American inferiority complex with its place in the sport, where many blindly claim that technique should come above all in choosing and developing the best prospects and that the U.S. is not an international power because it cares too much about athleticism.
Far-Fetched Friday: All Five Pacific Division Teams Will Make the Playoffs/Play-in
By: Ryan Stein
In the NBA, it is typically a safe bet that at least one to two teams in each division will be bad enough to not be playoff contenders, even going into the season. Whether it be due to injuries, or just a general lack of talent and cohesion on a roster, the likelihood for every team in a division to be competent is almost zero. In fact, only twice since the NBA adopted the 6-division format for the 2004-2005 season has every team in a division made the playoffs: in 2005-2006 with the Central Division, and in 2014-2015 with the Southwest Division. A third division will be added to that list this year, however, as I believe every team from the Pacific Division will make the playoffs/play-in this year.
Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday, we look at the playoff hopes of the Pacific.
Taking my prediction team by team, there are three organizations that are virtually guaranteed to make the playoffs, barring catastrophic injuries: the Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, and Los Angeles Clippers. All three teams were in the top 10 of the Western Conference last year, and there is little reason to believe they will not achieve the same status this season. That leaves the remaining two teams in the division, the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings, who have their playoff/play-in potential in limbo.
Starting with the Lakers, while I do not think their roster is necessarily any better than it was last year, having a presumably Anthony Davis should be enough to vault them into the top 10. There is also the possibility of the Lakers to make a trade during the season. Los Angeles has been dangling their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks in trade talks all summer, and they could likely receive a couple of serviceable role players in return for those picks. I find it hard to believe a team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis playing at least 50 games does not at least crawl into the play-in tournament.
The Sacramento Kings are the biggest longshots in the division in terms of play-in prospects. Having been absent from the playoffs since the 2005-2006 season, there has not been much to cheer for in California's forgotten team. Following the major acquisition of Domantas Sabonis during the season last year, there were encouraging signs that Sabonis and De'Aaron Fox will be a lethal duo on offense. Couple that with an offseason of solid additions like Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk, and top rookie Keegan Murray, and the Kings have a buzz surrounding them that they have not enjoyed at least since DeMarcus Cousins' ascension to stardom years ago. Sacramento will have to beat out the Portland Trail Blazers for that final play-in spot, and with Damian Lillard back the Blazers are sure to be competitive, but I believe they will ultimately be triumphant in their hopes for postseason basketball.
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