My preview of the 2024 NBA season concludes with a look at the Clippers’ home, the Pacific Division.

Phoenix Suns

Additions: Bradley Beal, Keita Bates-Diop, Eric Gordon, Drew Eubanks, Jordan Goodwin, Yuta Watanabe, Bol Bol, Chimezie Metu, Toumani Camara (52nd pick of 2023 Draft), Udoka Azubuike (two-way)

Subtractions: Chris Paul, Torrey Craig, Landry Shamet, Cam Payne, Jock Landale, Bismack Biyombo, Terrence Ross, TJ Warren, Duane Washington Jr., Darius Bazley

Other: Re-signed Josh Okogie to a two year $5.7M deal, Re-signed Damion Lee to a two-year $5.3M deal

Outlook: The Suns made the single biggest splash of the offseason in trading Chris Paul, Landry Shamet, and picks for Bradley Beal. Beal is not a perfect player, but I actually think he’s become underrated due to his outrageous contract. His combination of shooting, playmaking, and creation makes him a solid fit next to Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, and no team in the NBA can boast that level of sheer firepower. Injuries are a concern, but the Suns did a fantastic job shoring up their depth with minimum deals, focusing on underrated players in their prime rather than washed up big-name vets. The lack of a pure playmaker is a concern, but the real swing piece for the Suns is D’Andre Ayton. If he can return to the form of the 2021 season, especially defensively, the Suns should be extremely good. If he’s soft and doesn’t play hard all the time, the Suns will still be good but probably poor defensively. Still, in the regular season they will win a ton of games even with likely injury issues.

Prediction: 53-29 (Last year predicted 55-27, actually 45-37)

Sacramento Kings

Additions: Sasha Vezenkov, Chris Duarte, Nerlens Noel, Colby Jones (34th pick of 2023 Draft), Jalen Slawson (two-way)

Subtractions: Chimezie Metu, Terence Davis, Richaun Holmes, Matthew Dellavedova, PJ Dozier

Other: Extended Domantas Sabonis’ deal for 5 years and $217M, Re-signed Harrison Barnes to a 3 year $54M deal, Re-signed Trey Lyles to a 2 year $16M deal, Re-signed Neemias Queta to a 2 year $4.2M deal, Re-signed Alex Len to vet minimum

Outlook: The Kings just had their best season in nearly two decades – they were very good, surprising, and incredibly fun. Thus, they are bringing back all the major players, including locking up star big man Sabonis for the rest of his prime. I’m not sure about paying Harrison Barnes starter level money going forward, but under the new CBA the deal isn’t awful, and he’s a good fit and solid presence. The Kings are banking on continuity and further growth from young players, especially Keegan Murray, as they made few additions. Vezenkov won Euroleague MVP as one of the very best players outside the US, so he should be ready to contribute right away. While they were very healthy last year, even with some injury regression they should still be solid, and if any of their young guys make leaps they could be even better. Barnes is also the only key player on the roster in his 30s, so they should not face any aging concerns. They almost certainly won’t be as fun as last year as the novelty will be gone, but they’ll probably be around as good.

Prediction: 48-34 (Last year predicted 33-49, actually 48-34)

Los Angeles Lakers

Additions: Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish, Jaxson Hayes, Jalen Hood-Schifino (17th pick of 2023 Draft), Maxwell Lewis (40th pick of 2023 Draft), Colin Castleton (two-way), Alex Fudge (two-way), D’Moi Hodge (two-way)

Subtractions: Dennis Schroder, Troy Brown Jr., Wenyen Gabriel, Malik Beasley, Lonnie Walker IV, Mo Bamba, Cole Swider, Scotty Pippen Jr.

Other: Re-signed Austin Reaves to a 4 year, $56M deal, Re-signed D’Angelo Russell to a 2 year $36M deal, Re-signed Rui Hachimura to a 3 year $51M deal

Outlook: The way you view the Lakers’ summer depends in large part on how you view the second half of their 2023 season, where they shot up the standings after the trade deadline. If you think it was legitimate, the Lakers more or less bringing the band back together with a few changes to depth is a very good summer. If you think it was a small sample size or flukey, the Lakers’ summer is a lot less rosy. Regardless, their retaining Austin Reaves on that deal is a massive steal and one of the best deals of the offseason. Everything else, to me, ranges from fine (Gabe Vincent and Taurean Prince signings) to blah (fliers on Jaxson Hayes and Cam Reddish), with Russell and Hachimura getting overpaid but probably not cripplingly so. Overall, the Lakers should be pretty good this year, maybe very good if LeBron James and Anthony Davis stay healthy and don’t see age-related decline. Reaves is the biggest difference maker between them and the Clippers, a younger, healthier, third option who can still improve.

Prediction: 47-35 (Last year predicted 41-41, actually 43-39)

Los Angeles Clippers

Additions: Kenyon Martin Jr., Kobe Brown (30th pick of 2023 Draft), Jordan Miller (two-way)

Subtractions: Eric Gordon, Xavier Moon

Other: Re-signed Russell Westbrook to a 2 year $7.9M deal, Re-signed Mason Plumlee to a 1 year $5M deal, Re-signed Moussa Diabate to two-way deal

Outlook: Coming off a nightmarish 2023 season, the Clippers… barely changed their roster this summer. The counterpoint, of course, is that their major additions were at the trade deadline, and last year’s team that was so disappointing was already more or less blown up. I see that point, but disagree with it (also, while a bit better and more fun, the Clippers were not great after the deadline either). Compared to last year, Russell Westbrook should be better than the Reggie Jackson/John Wall tandem, Bones Hyland and Kenyon Martin Jr. will add some youth and verve, and Mason Plumlee is an immense upgrade over Moses Brown. Still, the core of the team remains very old and rather slow, and lacks high-level starters after their two injury-prone and aging stars. You can’t rule this team out because of the sheer greatness of Kawhi Leonard, but their summer was less than inspiring after how awful the 2022-2023 season was.

Prediction: 46-36 (Last year predicted 52-30, actually 44-38)

Golden State Warriors

Additions: Chris Paul, Dario Saric, Cory Joseph, Brandin Podziemski (19th pick of 2023 Draft), Trayce Jackson-Davis (57th pick of 2023 Draft)

Subtractions: Jordan Poole, Donte DiVincenzo, JaMychal Green, Anthony Lamb, Ty Jerome, Andre Iguodala, Pat Baldwin Jr., Ryan Rollins

Other: Re-signed Draymond Green to a 4 year $100M deal, Re-signed Lester Quinones to a two-way deal

Outlook: The Warriors responded to an extremely disappointing 2023 campaign by turning over the back half of their roster, with the main adjustment being Chris Paul swapping in for Jordan Poole. How the methodical and plodding Point God adjusts to Steve Kerr’s fast and fluid system is anyone’s guess, much less how Paul will respond to a reduced role and possibly coming off the bench. Still, he’s a steadier player than Poole, and might finally help stabilize the Warriors’ non-Steph Curry minutes. Honestly, much of the rest of the Warriors’ core is the same, with a few veterans being cleared out to give more room for youngsters Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody as well as maybe even the Warriors’ rookies (I love both picks). With Curry, Draymond, and Klay all aging and Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney better suited as complements than floor raisers, I think that the Warriors’ floor remains a play-in berth, though their ceiling is still quite high. I feel like I could be very wrong on them one way or another.

Prediction: 45-37 (Last year predicted 56-26, actually 44-38)

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