Has the NBA’s Western Conference ever being stronger than it is right now? I’d say maybe not.
While the stacked Golden State Warriors were finally broken up, there are several really good teams and a few more pretty decent teams that would probably look great if they played in the Eastern Conference. Several of the conference’s teams moved up the league’s hierarchy considerably with huge offseason moves.
By next June, we will know which Western Conference team is the best of them all. For now, though, we can make an educated guess at which teams are most likely to conquer the conference in 2019-20.
Let’s look at some of the best Western Conference championship odds that you might be wise to bet on:
Los Angeles Clippers at +275 with Bookmaker
Most recommended online betting sites for Americans seem to have the Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets as the top three candidates for the Western Conference title this year. All of their odds range from about +200 to +500 with most sites, with the Clippers’ odds usually trending toward +200.
However the Clippers are definitely my clear favorite and Bookmaker provides you with the best odds on them.
Why are the Clippers higher than the Lakers and Rockets in my estimation? I like the fit of their star duo (Kawhi Leonard-Paul George) much more than that of the Lakers (LeBron James-Anthony Davis) and the Rockets (James Harden-Russell Westbrook). Leonard and George are both good outside shooters who can play on and off the ball and play excellent defense. They should be able to complement each other.
Neither James nor Davis is a great outside shooter and James is not super comfortable off the ball. His defense has also fallen off in recent years. With the Rockets, Harden and Westbrook are both so ball-dominant and then they tend to shoot and turn the ball over a lot. Both guys are prone to stretches of defensive laziness, as well.
It’s not just the stars of the Clippers that set them apart. They have role players who know their roles and can fit them perfectly – guys like Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Patrick Beverley, JaMychal Green, Landry Shamet and Ivica Zubac. All of those players were on the roster last year.
The Lakers’ corps of role players are guys mostly just sort of thrown together in the offseason who need to gain chemistry quickly. The Rockets’ quality of supporting players falls off considerably after Clint Capela, PJ Tucker and Eric Gordon.
Denver Nuggets at +1300 with 5Dimes
The Nuggets were the second seed in the Western Conference last year despite their top three-minute getters (Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Monte Morris) all being 23 years old or younger. Malik Beasley (22), Gary Harris (24) and Juan Hernangomez (23) also had an impact for the team.
Denver lost zero members of its regular rotation and it gained Jerami Grant and redshirt rookie Michael Porter Jr. Grant is a versatile defender with an improving three-point shot, and Porter should provide a scoring lift in his first real season.
For those keeping track at home, the Nuggets now have Jokic, Murray, Harris, Grant, Morris, Beasley, Porter, Hernangomez, Paul Millsap, Torrey Craig, Will Barton and Mason Plumlee as options who are all deserving of rotation minutes.
So while the Nuggets may not be headlined by two stars like the Los Angeles Clippers, they are the deepest team in the NBA and they still have a legitimate superstar in Nikola Jokic. Head coach Mike Malone has a host of lineup options at his disposal, and his squad should still be very good even if the injury bug hits.
This is my favorite available bet. If you only want to bet on one team, this should be your top target.
This is me giving legendary Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich the respect that he deserves. San Antonio’s roster doesn’t have the star power that the teams above it possess. LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan are the team’s two best players, which isn’t ideal, especially because neither guy is known for being super-efficient on the offensive end.
However, there is a nice crop of youth and experience flanking them in the starting lineup and the bench. Derrick White and Dejounte Murray are two excellent defensive guards with developing offensive games. Rudy Gay and DeMarre Carroll are reliable shooters who can guard forwards pretty well. Jakob Poeltl is a no-frills big man who plays his role well. Finally, second-year guard Lonnie Walker is a very talented offensive player with gobs of athleticism. Bryn Forbes, Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli provide explosive three-point shooting in spurts.
When you combine the solid depth of the Spurs’ rotation with Popovich’s coaching mastery and the West lacking a truly dominant team this year, it is not too far-fetched to tab the Spurs as a deep sleeper conference champion pick considering these long odds.