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Sleepers in the Pacific Division

David Yapkowitz examines sleepers in the Pacific Division for next season.

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With the week coming to end, we also conclude our sleeper pick series here at Basketball Insiders.

The last division up is the Pacific Division. Arguably the weakest division in the Western Conference, the only team that is a sure thing right now is the Golden State Warriors. The rest of the division is comprised of teams all in a state of transition. While the Warriors are without a doubt the cream of the crop, there are still quite a few players in the division worth paying attention to.

Montrezl Harrell – Los Angeles Clippers

There was a 15-game stretch last season when Houston Rockets starting center Clint Capela went down with an injury. Mike D’Antoni inserted Montrezl Harrell into the rotation and started him a few games as well. Harrell answered the call with 14.2 points per game, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks during that time period. Although he eventually fell back out of the rotation, he proved during that span that with consistent minutes he could be a valuable contributor off the bench.

He’ll get his chance to provide regular production with the second unit now that he’s with the Los Angeles Clippers. Although fellow reserve Sam Dekker will probably see some minutes at power forward in a small-ball lineup, look for Harrell to be the first big man off the bench. He should provide a capable backup to Blake Griffin; his only competition for that spot right now being Brice Johnson who is still a relative unknown. Harrell’s energy and toughness as a reserve are one of the reasons why the Clippers may not be all that much worse despite losing Chris Paul.

Jordan Bell – Golden State Warriors

If it were possible, the rich actually got richer. Despite not having any picks in the draft, the Warriors were able to acquire Jordan Bell from the Chicago Bulls for cash considerations. Bell has excellent defensive instincts and was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. During summer league in Las Vegas, Bell showed off a very well-rounded game. During one game, he finished with five points, 11 rebounds, five assists, five steals, and five blocks.

Like Patrick McCaw last season, don’t be surprised to see Bell get some meaningful minutes both in the regular season and possibly playoffs. He’s only a rookie, but it’s probably safe to say he’s already surpassed fellow big men Kevon Looney and Damian Jones in the rotation. Injuries have kept Looney from cracking the rotation, and Jones doesn’t possess the all-around skill that Bell does. The Warriors just might walk away with the steal of the draft.

Larry Nance Jr. – Los Angeles Lakers

While the Lakers have other young guys on the roster that garner much of spotlight, Larry Nance Jr. is somebody to keep an eye on. He’s emerged as one of the Lakers’ most dependable reserves, and he can play both forward positions. He’s extremely athletic and is one of the best defensive players on the roster. He’s in the mold of the ultimate glue guy, a player who doesn’t excel in any one particular area but is solid across the board.

He’ll likely start the season coming off the bench, but it’s not at all far-fetched to see him potentially outplay Julius Randle and at some point win the starting power forward spot. His outside shooting is still a work in progress but should come around with time. At 24-years-old, Nance still has room to grow and has solidified himself as a core member of the Lakers’ future.

Bogdan Bogdanovic – Sacramento Kings

The Kings made headlines this summer when they managed to have one of the best drafts in the league. De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles, and Frank Mason III all have the makings of future rotation players. The Kings will have one other rookie on the team, however, who is flying a bit under the radar. Bogdan Bogdanovic has emerged as one of the best players in Europe. This past season, he averaged 14.3 points per game, 3.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and he shot 43 percent from three point range.

Bogdanovic has the ability to play both guard positions, but he’ll likely see the majority of his minutes at shooting guard. Buddy Hield is the Kings’ projected starting shooting guard for next season, but he’ll be pushed by Bogdanovic. Out of all the Kings rookies, Bogdanovic is one of the most likely to make an immediate impact. It’s not out of the question that he ends up outplaying Hield and at some point, moving into the starting lineup.

Alan Williams – Phoenix Suns

After going undrafted in the 2015 draft, Alan Williams signed in China and put up some impressive numbers. He averaged 20.8 points per game, 15.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks. Following the conclusion of the CBA season, he joined his hometown Phoenix Suns. Williams played sparingly for most of this past season, but after the All-Star break, he took advantage of increased playing time and he flourished.

During that 24 game stretch before the end of the season, Williams put up a near double-double with 11.9 points and 9.1 rebounds. Although Williams is listed at about 6 feet 7 inches or 6-feet 8 inches, he is primarily a center. With Alex Len’s status still up in the air, Williams figures to be primary backup center once the season begins. He re-signed with the Suns the summer on a very decent contract, and he has the potential to be a key piece in the Suns young core.

As the start of the NBA season draws near, it will be interesting to see which of these guys potentially break out and make a big difference for their teams. For most of these teams, any sort of postseason success is likely a few years away. These players will do their best, however, to make sure that their success is sooner rather than later.

David Yapkowitz has been a staff writer for Basketball Insiders since 2017. Based in Los Angeles, he focuses on the Pacific Division as well as the NBA at large.

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