Welcome to Part II of the NBA Pacific Bloggers Roundtable. Some of the best bloggers representing the Pacific Division team came together and put together a preview for the Pacific Division.
Representing Phoenix, we have Lucas from The Rising Suns. Speaking on the Lakers, we have Kurt from Forum Blue & Gold. From Clipper blogdom, we have Kevin from ClipperBlog. Tom comes to us from Sactown Royalty. And last but not least is me, Fantasy Junkie, from Golden State of Mind.
Part 1 kicked off yesterday at Sactown Royalty. Make sure to check out Clippers Blog for part III of the Pacific Division Preview.
Today's Part II is about the most important new addition to one of the Pacific Division team. So let's jump into it:
Fantasy Junkie: The most important new addition his offseason has to be Don Nelson to the Golden State Warriors. If you're talking about the impact on the number of wins and quality of play, Nelson is the choice. He's going to change the way the Warriors play, give the players a different style, and bring his Hall of Fame credentials back to the Bay Area. Monty was simply overmatched as he didn't know how to coach an NBA game. A lot of the problems the Warriors had last year were due to an ineffective leader and inconsistent use of players from the coach's side. Players tuned him out, fundamentals no longer existed, and he could not gain control over the team. In comes Don Nelson and immediately he has the respect of his players. There is a buzz going around the Bay Area and it's all about what Nelson can bring to the table. Players are excited to play for him. They know what he's done in the past and want to play in his style of basketball. His style of ball and coaching ability has always translated into success. In Milwaukee, then Golden State, and then Dallas, he has brought struggling franchises back to respectability and beyond. This is what he's going to do in his second stint with the Warriors.
The Kings hiring of Eric Musselman is an important addition also, but they are a perennial playoff participant. Inheriting a playoff squad is much different than turning a whole franchise around. Also, while Vlad Radmonovic, Tim Thomas, Marcus Banks, and John Salmons are nice additions, they are simply role players. They will not alter the way a team plays or spark the team to significantly more wins. The teams they are going to already have an established identity. The Warriors on the other hand do not have an identity. This is a franchise that has missed the playoffs for 12 years in a row. The last time they made the playoffs was when Don Nelson was here the first time around. He's going to make sweeping changes, demand a lot from his players, and put his stamp on the team. This is what the Warriors desperately need and they have filled that need with one of the best.
Despite all the trade rumors for Al Harrington and other players, Don Nelson is the best possible move the Warriors could have made this summer and also the most important new addition to any Pacific Division team.
Kevin:Most important Pacific Division addition: the return of Amare Stoudemire in Phoenix.
The Suns crafted a more cohesive identity last season than any team in the league. It would be foolish to suggest that the return of Amare would somehow compromise that flow, but integrating him back into the offense offers some challenges. Nobody advanced the ball up the court better than PHX last season and while I don't expect that to change appreciatively, D'Antoni will need to figure out how much tempo he
wants to sacrifice for size. That successful mismatch he created last year with Diaw will be scaled back a bit. On the other hand, the thought of adding a post presence to last year's PHX team scares me as a Clipper fan. All of the sudden, a front line of Marion-Amare-Kurt Thomas, or Diaw-Marion-Amare or whatever combination is intimidating. That's going to require a lot more work on the offensive end for
opponents on the wing, because space will be at much more a premium when playing PHX. The days of Elton Brand getting his way below the stripe unfettered will be over.
Kurt: I don't want to step on Tom's toes here, but I'm a pretty big fan of Eric Musselman and the off-season move in Sacramento -- I think he was a good choice for the Kings. Look at his record with mediocre talent at Golden State the first time around -- they got 17 games better the first year. They got worse when he left. He can bring a toughness to the Kings that an already talented team may well respond to --they could get much better. Or Artest could blow up, it's always volatile with him. But while I think Nelson makes the Warriors better, Musselman can make a solid Kings team very dangerous.
Tom: I'm inclined to agree with Kurt - Musselman is a huge addition for the Kings. Anyone who saw Game 2 of the Spurs-King series last spring (the Brent Barry bounce game) saw how overmatched Rick Adelman was in game situations. He didn't make a single substitution in overtime of that game, whereas Gregg Popovich was constantly changing things up to exploit strengths and cover up weaknesses. And Sacramento's grand turn-around last season had as much to do with Adelman's coaching and it did Jamal Sampson's cheerleading.
But I think Vlad-Rad is a big addition for the Lakers. He's never going to challenge for an All-Star team, but he's one more guy defenses can't ignore. That's what the Lakers really needed last season (besides consistency in the middle) - a dependable shooter. He makes them much better. Now, we get to find out if L.A.'s late season run was a fluke or a tell-tale sign.
The other Pacific additions, as Justin pointed out, aren't going to change the world. But Salmons in Sacramento and Thomas in L.A. in particular will be called upon early and often for their versatility. Whomever can fit into their assigned roles (Thomas as defense-stretcher and scorer and Salmons as distributor and defender) is going to end up helping their team the most, obviously. And that's the important thing with role players - not box-score stats.
In your mind, what was the most important new addition to one of the Pacific Division teams?