Thursday 22nd February 2024,
The Hoop Doctors

NBA Western Conference Preview and the New Battle for California

The Golden State Warriors only play the the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers four times each. GSW opens their season against the Oklahoma City Thunder and official odds haven’t been set for the game just yet. But oddly enough, the NBA preseason match-up between LeBron and his Lakers against the Warriors on Oct 12th has an NBA point spread of 9.5 in favor of Golden State.

NBA Odds on the Western Conference

It shouldn’t come as a shock that the Golden State Warriors are the odds-on favorites to win the west. At -275 they are far and above anyone else in the minds the number crunchers in Las Vegas. Next in line are the Houston Rockets at +500 and what is just a tad shocking, the Lakers can be found as low as +600, and are 3rd in line on the NBA odds-boards. The Clippers are way, way back at +15,000, with only the Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies, and Sacramento Kings below them in implied probability.

If you remember all of the hype around where LeBron James would trade to during the off-season, those of us that were watching the NBA futures odds new exactly what would happen while Lebron was still elusive during press conferences and the rumor mill was churning. Suddenly the Lakers jumped from the bottom half of the odds-boards to the fifth most likely team to win the NBA Finals.

The Lakers are also expected to push for a 50-win season. They could end up a powerhouse, but will a drastically changed roster mesh well enough right off the bat to come out and win 50 games in their first campaign together? 50 is a huge jump from the 35 they won last season. Meanwhile, teams that haven’t gotten any worse, like the Portland Trail Blazers have dropped dramatically going from a 49-win season to only having expectations of winning 42 games.

The Western Conference has been by far the toughest in the NBA for a few years running, but that gap seems to be narrowing, and as much as we would like to be nay-Sayers regarding the Lakers chances, they actually might be able to win 50. Not so much because they will be so much better, but because the Spurs are not what they once were, the Thunder are only OK, the Grizzlies have had the wheels completely fall off their wagon, and the Clippers are bound to be a sub .500 team this season.

The Western Conference is going to be between the Warriors, the Rockets, the Lakers, the Trail Blazers, the Pelicans, the Jazz, the Thunder, and the Bucks.

As much of a non-factor the Clippers should be, the Warriors are that much more relevant. The fact that they picked up DeMarcus Cousins to guard the rim is almost gross. 5.3 million dollars for one of the league’s best big-men is a steal. It seems almost like cheating … but when a premier player is willing to take a huge pay cut to get a ring, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

As hyped up as the Lakers may be, California still belongs to the Warriors. And for that matter, so does the Western Conference. The Rockets may challenge, but Carmelo has been like kryptonite for team chemistry everywhere he’s been over the last few years, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Rockets take a big step back in 2019.

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