The pacific was projected to be one of, if not the most competitive division in the league heading into the 2023-24 NBA season. The Golden State Warriors and their division rivals each held (and still hold) legitimate aspirations to secure a top six seed in the Western Conference.
It’s very early, and making sweeping judgements is dangerous, but the Warriors are already putting a gap between themselves and their division rivals even despite a tough early schedule.
The Golden State Warriors are making an early mockery of some of the expectations and predictions on the pacific division this season.
Golden State fell to a 6-3 record with a 108-105 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night, but even that defeat was shrouded in optimism ahead of eight of their next 10 games back home at Chase Center.
Meanwhile, their four division rivals are somewhat struggling in the face of injuries, roster changes and general poor form. The Phoenix Suns survived an overtime game against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, moving to 4-4 with Bradley Beal back in the lineup and Devin Booker to return shortly.
The Sacramento Kings have lost to the Warriors and Houston Rockets twice each, and have been struggling without De’Aaron Fox on the way to a 3-4 record. The LA Clippers are also 3-4 as they attempt to incorporate James Harden after a blockbuster trade with Philadelphia last week.
The Clippers have lost both games with Harden in the lineup, having averaged just 95 points across the two outings. Their cross-town rivals, the Lakers, remain heavily reliant on LeBron James and are 3-5 through eight games.
In their 2023-24 NBA season preview, ESPN had the Warriors predicted third in the pacific division behind the Suns and Lakers. Sports Illustrated’s Logan Struck was even more pessimistic on the 2022 NBA champions, ranking Golden State fourth behind the Suns, Lakers and Kings.
"“With a questionable second unit, the Warriors are unlikely to have an impressive regular season, but they might be in good shape for a deep playoff run”, Struck wrote on October 13."
Over the first nine games, the Warrior bench has answered those questions and proven a major strength. That proved the case again in Denver on Wednesday, outscoring the Nuggets bench 42-12.
Golden State are far from a lock to win the division, but right now they appear the most steady and consistent team while possessing the deepest of any of the five rosters.