- With Kawhi Leonard now in Los Angeles, the Clippers are favored to win the West
- The Lakers aren’t far behind with a star signing of their own in Anthony Davis
- Price shortens on Houston Rockets after trade for Russell Westbrook
Unquestionable star power across the NBA’s Western Conference will make this coming season entertaining to watch, but frustratingly difficult to predict for gamblers. Golden State’s west rivals have loaded up in the offseason and are primed to knock the five-time defending conference champion Warriors off their perch.
Here are the BetOnline odds to win the NBA’s Western Conference:
NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE ODDS
|Los Angeles Clippers||+225|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+300|
|Golden State Warriors||+800|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+2000|
|San Antonio Spurs||+4000|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+5000|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+6600|
THE HIGH-QUALITY QUARTET
Both Los Angeles teams are drawing attention, and an overabundance of wagers to lower the odds, but that presents an opportunity for bettors who have more faith in the Warriors or Houston Rockets.
The Lakers are trying to give LeBron James the super team to which he had become accustomed in his other NBA stops. LA sent a haul of players and draft picks to New Orleans for power forward Anthony Davis.
— Danny Green (@DGreen_14) August 12, 2019
Combined with free agents Danny Green and DeMarcus Cousins and holdovers such as Kyle Kuzma, a huge improvement should be coming for the Lakers who missed the playoffs last season. Even with that overhaul, the Lakers might still be the second-best team in Los Angeles.
That’s because the Clippers outdid their neighbors in offseason additions, signing NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and trading for small forward Paul George.
Compared with the Lakers, they have the benefit of a stronger core of returning players, such as shooting guard Lou Williams (20 points per game and a team-leading 5.4 assists per game) and power forward Montrezl Harrell (16.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 1.3 blocks per game).
Houston reunited its superstar, James Harden, with Russell Westbrook in a move designed to get the Rockets over the top. But it remains to be seen how well these two can share the ball and the spotlight. Adjusting to the roster changes and finding that crucial chemistry will be pivotal, just as it will be for the Lakers and Clippers.
That team-first cohesiveness has never been in doubt with the Golden State Warriors, however. Although they failed to three-peat and lost Kevin Durant to free agency and Andre Igoudala in a trade, the Warriors still have a dangerous roster loaded with talent, experience and character.
"I think it's like a video game."
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) August 9, 2019
Getting D’Angelo Russell from the Nets in a sign-and-trade deal will make up for some of those lost points, but the biggest looming question is whether Klay Thompson can return to his All-Star form when he comes back at midseason from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee.
READY TO UPSET THEIR DREAMS
After the four favorites, six dangerous teams have the ability and talent to play spoilers against those big names hogging all the headlines. And as we saw with the Warriors in the finals, even the most powerful teams can be blindsided by significant injuries.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum led the Portland Trail Blazers to the conference finals, and they’ve earned the confidence to compete with any team. Despite a number of roster changes, the Blazers will have that dangerous underdog mentality and chip on their shoulders. Adding Hassan Whiteside, who was seventh in the league with 136 blocks, will improve Portland’s 14th-ranked defense (110.5 points against per game).
Denver showed it is a team to be reckoned with, finishing second in the conference in 2018-19 behind the performances of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. If the Nuggets can get 2018 first-rounder Michael Porter Jr., who missed all of last season, and 2019 draft pick Bol Bol healthy, they might be a good gamble right now at +1000.
Bettors are showing an appreciation for the Utah Jazz’s offseason moves that complement shooting guard Donovan Mitchell: signing small forward Bojan Bogdonavic, forward Ed Davis and some depth players and trading for point guard Mike Conley.
You can never count out coach Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. And the Dallas Mavericks will be dangerous with last season’s acquisition Kristaps Porzingis teaming up with 2019 rookie of the year Luka Dončić.
The wild card in the conference will be the revamped and reinvented New Orleans Pelicans, who hope No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson lives up to his hype and clicks with newcomers Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and JJ Redick and fellow 2019 draft picks Jaxson Hayes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Marcos Louzada Silva. It should be fun.
A BIG PAYOFF, OR A WASTE OF MONEY?
So, after considering those top two tiers of teams, what is there to make of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns? Realistically, betting on any of them to win the conference would not be wise.