Like the Eastern Conference, Westgate Las Vegas Superbook released their annual Western Conference over/under betting win totals. This one is usually more intriguing and spurs more debate because of the competitiveness and depth of the Western Conference. There are always playoff-worthy teams that miss out on the playoffs; thus it only makes sense that there will be two or three teams that could make the playoffs, miss out during some projections. Last year, this was the playoff picture in the West.
- Golden State
This year, there are some shake-ups that Vegas predicts. And with how much the East will change with LeBron James’ departure from it, the Western Conference will change similarly with his arrival to the Los Angeles Lakers. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you can argue that the Western Conference isn’t as strong this year as people are lauding. It’s strong, and maybe a little deeper with more playoff-worthy teams, but not as strong at last year because some teams took a step or two back.
1. Golden State Warriors- 62.5- OVER
This one is tough because they are undoubtedly the most talented team in the league. They can easily win 65+ games, but it all depends on their mentality and hunger. They won ‘just’ 58 games last year, after winning 65, 73, and 67 during the three previous years. Injuries and fatigue caught up to them, which is why they paced themselves.
And they will no doubt play a factor this time so it’s fair assumption that they will keep everything in cruise control because home court isn’t a big deal to them. However, they have so much talent, that 62 games may come easy with no injuries.
2. Houston Rockets- 54.5- OVER
This is an 11-game drop for a team that won 65 last year and was one game away from the finals. And they probably would have beat the Warriors if Chris Paul was healthy, but now have to try again. They lost an underrated three-and-D duo in Trevor Ariza, and Luc Mbah a Moute and replaced them with Carmelo Anthony.
It’s always surprising to see a team that replaces two role players with a Hall-of-Famer and expectations drop so significantly. It shows just how valuable the two role players were and how over-the-hill Melo may be. The Rockets still have James Harden, CP3, Clint Capela, and PJ Tucker. The defense won’t be as good, but if Melo accepts his role (and if used correctly), the team could be more explosive offensively. They will no-doubt fight for home court, closing the gap between them and the Warriors.
3. Oklahoma Thunder- 50.5-OVER
The Thunder disappointed last year, collecting just 48 wins, which one-game improvement over the year before, even with a much better roster. However, they get their best defensive stopper, in Andre Roberson, back, Paul George is more acclimated, and the loss of Anthony is addition by subtraction. There’s no doubt that he made it hard to work for the entire Thunder team last year.
4. Los Angeles Lakers- 48.5- OVER
This one is the most polarizing because some people believe that LeBron James will elevate the Lakers that much more, while others think that they will be a lower seed. This is a 15-game improvement in predictions, compared to last year. I think they will hit 50 wins after collecting 35 last season in a much tougher Western Conference.
LeBron is the best player in the world, and he will only amplify the improvement that Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart would already be making. This was a team that between January 5th and March 13 went 20-9. And throughout the entire season, Ingram missed 23 games and Lonzo, 30 games.
They’ve improved by nine games each of last two years, and this was a young core that could have challenged for 40 wins without LeBron James if players took another significant step, which they trended towards. And James will help push that to 50+.
5. Utah Jazz- 48.5- OVER
Utah is a young and exciting team on the come up. They have a young stud in Donavan Mitchell and have adequate pieces around him. Ricky Rubio’s value was underrated and you saw that in the playoffs, as he missed the second round. He will be back, and the team’s chemistry will be better. 50 wins are realistic, and they should be around the same level on Lakers and this next team.
6. Denver Nuggets- 47.5- OVER
The Nuggets missed the Western Conference playoffs by just one game last season and would have made it if Paul Milsap was healthy for the majority of the season. They not only have perhaps the best and most underrated young core in the Western Conference and NBA but one of the more underrated cores general. Nikola Jokic is a super-in-the-making, and their backcourt of Gary Harris and Jamal Murray took strides and could be Splash Bros. 2.0. Not to mention, Milsap is an All-Star-caliber player, and Michael Porter Jr. has superstar potential.
7. New Orleans Pelicans- 45.5- UNDER
You can argue the Pelicans took a step backward. They lost DeMarcus Cousins, who didn’t work perfectly within their system, but he’s still an elite talent and better than Julius Randle, who they added. Boogie is a better fit than him because he (Boogie) could space the floor and allowed Davis to play the 4. Rajon Rondo’s impact should not go ignored, as he was a huge reason why the Pelicans swept the Trailblazers in the first round, but now finds himself on the Lakers.
8. Minnesota- 44.5- SPLIT (Leaning towards UNDER)
This one is tough because it can either way. They would have had at least 50 wins last year if Jimmy Butler was healthy. Instead, they won 47 games, and this summer reports surfaced that there is uneasiness in the locker room, which should not be overlooked. Butler’s absence was the time for Andrew Wiggins to step up but he regressed, and if the same thing happens again, they will more-than-likely fall under. If Karl-Anthony Towns doesn’t improve on defense, the same thing.
Their defense in general needs to improve. If Wiggins, KAT, and point prevention don’t take the requisite steps they should, then under. If two of the three happen, then over.
The Spurs and Trailblazers are playoff-worthy teams, but they either got worse or stayed the same in the offseason. Portland has plateaued and Spurs lost their best player and downgraded with DeRozan, even though DeRozan is better than a Kawhi-less Spurs. But the Lakers have improved drastically, as will the Nuggets, so these two are projected to miss out.
And the teams after them have virtually no shot at the playoffs, although they are expected to be better than they were last year. A healthy Grizzlies team may surprise, but that’s about it.
9. San Antonio Spurs- 43.5
10. Portland Trailblazers- 41.5
11. Los Angeles Clippers- 35.5
12. Dallas Mavericks- 34.5
13. Memphis Grizzlies- 34.5
14. Phoenix Suns- 28.5
15. Sacramento Kings- 25.5
Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons