July 11, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Andre Iguodala addresses the media in a press conference after a sign-and-trade deal to become a Golden State Warriors player at the Warriors Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

NBA: Ranking the California Teams

Jul 10, 2013; Playa Vista, CA, USA; L-R: Los Angeles Clippers Matt Barnes (22), Darren Collison (2), Jared Dudley (9), Ryan Hollins (15), Chris Paul (3) and J.J. Redick (4) are introduced today during a press conference at the team headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It is widely known California is the “Golden State” and the Golden State Warriors have taken it upon themselves to represent the entire state in the NBA with the name “Golden State Warriors”.  But who will be the best team in the state this upcoming season?

4)  Sacramento Kings

Any team with Demarcus Cousins as the face of the franchise is lottery bound.  The hot tempered big man has too much talent not to set the tone on the Kings and the culture set is not a winning one.  They have started making some improvements with a new ownership, an improvement at the point and a promising rookie in Ben McLemore.  But once again, it is a team led by Demarcus Cousins and he will be leading them to a summer full of ping pong balls again.

3)  Los Angeles Lakers

Injured Kobe, older and slower players in Steve Nash and Pau Gasol and the loss of Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace  will push the Lakers out of the playoffs this season.  Basically a poor defensive team lost 2 of its best 3 defenders with the other coming off an achilles injury.  However, there may be another Gasol for Kwame Brown deal that gifts the Lakers out of this position.  With the current cast and an improved Timberwolves, Blazers and Pelicans it won’t be easy for this team to be a top-eight in a continuously treacherous Western Conference.

2) Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers won the Pacific Division last year but failed to get out of the first round of the Playoffs.  While Chris Paul is the best point guard in the league, ensuring the Clippers will be good, how good mostly depends on the continued development of Blake Griffin.  Griffin has off the chart athleticism and has posted good numbers but has yet to become a dominant force on either the offensive or defensive end.  He is a good rebounder but not great and a capable scorer but not one that opponents must focus two to three players on to slow down.

The Clippers could easily be number one on this list and while the Clippers have done a great job of adding role players in the offseason, one thing I’ve learned over again in my lifetime and that is don’t bet on the Clippers.  Don Sterling still owns the team and they have a way of “Clippering” their way out of consistent success.

1)  Golden State Warriors

Last year the Warriors entered the playoffs as a 6th seed and thoroughly dominated the 3rd seed Denver Nuggets.  This finish could have been higher if not for Andrew Bogut missing most of the year forcing a very late 1st round pick to start much of the season along with 19 year old Harrison Barnes. It is also important to note that it was coach Mark Jackson’s sophomore year of coaching and he was still learning on the job.

As the Nuggets saw first hand, the Warrior got better over the season and have a core that is improving.  They also added an elite wing defender and slasher in Andre Iguadaola.  Oh, and they swept the Clippers in their season series last year.  While the Clippers have a strong team, the upward trend the Warriors are on will push them to the top of the Pacific Division next year and leave them as the top team in California.

NBA: Ranking the California Teams

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