• OTG Staff

Top Storylines: Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors – Back to Back.

*Photo via Getty Images

The Warriors are already on the defense of their title in sparring Doc Rivers’ words that the team’s championship was “lucky”. Between Klay Thompson’s blunt “we smacked [the Clippers]” last year and Stephen Curry’s not-so-apologetic apology, it seems this team of young champions are ready to prove their not a one-ring-wonder.

The entire Championship team is back with the exception of David Lee and little less spinal fluid from Steve Kerr’s back. For now, all fans need to worry about is saying, “How the hell did Luke Walton become a head coach so fast?” rather than “How damn long can Steve Kerr be injured for?”

But, unfortunately, the Warriors have to worry about far more. It seems this could be said just about every year: a stronger Western Conference will be taking shots at the newly donned champions. With the Spurs and Clippers upgrading their rosters significantly and the return of Kevin Durant, it won’t be all skips and sling shots for the Warriors. – Robert Britz

Los Angeles Clippers – Okay, I’m Reloaded.

*Photo via USA Today

The Los Angeles Clippers have one of the deepest teams in the league. With new additions, Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson, and Josh Smith, the Clippers are among the favorites in the Western Conference. Chris Paul begins another journey in hopes of making it to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in his career. Doc Rivers and Pierce are looking to add another championship to their resume and put up a Clippers banner in the Staples Center.

Clippers must find a way to manage all the egos on the team, but Rivers is just the man to do it. Expect greatness from the Clippers this season and expect them to finally get over the hump and make it to the NBA Finals. That's right! The Los Angeles Clippers will represent the West this year in the NBA Finals. – Marc Cantave

Los Angeles Lakers – Mamba’s Last Stand.

*Photo via Getty Images

Remediation is the first thing that comes to mind. It’s been three years since Kobe Bryant finished a whole season without an injury that kept him in a tailored suit, instead of the purple and gold jersey he has donned since he was 17 years old coming out of high school. Now, Kobe Bryant has not publicly stated this is his last season, but the Los Angeles Lakers should treat it as such. He is not getting any younger, meaning the injuries will not heal as fast as they use to, and we all know we can’t beat father time.

This year’s Los Angeles Lakers team will make the playoffs this year if…

Kobe Bryant stays health and allows his teammates to carry this team and be the driving force in the supportive role to help push this team towards a playoff run this year. Now, if you are asking if they can make a deep run, it’s possible, but highly unlikely that they make it out of first round. – Landon Buford

Phoenix Suns – Identity Crisis?

*Photo via USA Today

The Phoenix Suns will look to avoid a sixth straight playoff absence this season, and what would be a bitter pill for the valley fans, city, and owner Robert Sarver to swallow. Though they've yet to win a title in their 47 seasons, the Suns organization prides itself on being the fourth winningest team (W/L percentage) in the NBA.

After four preseason games, those who bleed purple and orange are observing attentively with a microscope, hoping to find any trace of improvement from last season. The organization parted ways with who they thought would be their franchise face in Goran Dragic, and have brought in Brandon Knight to replace him.

They so desperately need a player(s) to resonate with their fan base. With Dragic's departure and Nash's Ring of Honor induction, the organization cries out for a playoff berth -- but more importantly for an identity -- an identity that likens to the days of Nash and Stoudemire and Barkley and K.J.

Though these players are long gone, an old friend will come back to say hello very soon, and some will recognize him more than others. Two-time MVP Steve Nash will pass the torch to this current Suns team, who's new generation of fans long to embrace the next special player in Phoenix. – Chris Stewart

Sacramento Kings – Welcome to Chemistry 101.

*Photo via USA Today

The master key to unlocking success for the Sacramento Kings is DeMarcus Cousins, otherwise affectionately known as Boogie. The first-time NBA All-Star definitively entered himself into the conversation as the most dominant big man in the NBA, and has quite a case. There are four other players in NBA history who have matched or exceeded his single season averages from last year. Their names are Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Kevin Garnett, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He is a star in this league and will be for years to come. The biggest problem for the Kings is that basketball is a team sport. Can incoming free agent Rajon Rondo mastermind George Karl's system? Will Rudy Gay get more open shots because of Rondo's passing abilities? Does 2015 NBA draft pick Willie Cauley-Stein push Boogie to the power-forward and solidify the interior defense? Does the signing of Marco Belinelli help or tarnish the development of Ben McLemore? The Kings look like contenders on paper every year, and this year they look better than last. George Karl just needs some time in the lab to figure out their chemistry. – Ryan Buchanan

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