Simply put, the NBA’s Western Conference is going to be a dogfight in 2018-19. On paper, almost every squad in the conference improved its roster. Remember, there were already nine squads that won 46 games or more a year ago, compared to five such teams in the Eastern Conference.
One of USAbetting’s top recommended sportsbooks for Americans, the respected 5Dimes, has released over/under prop bets for the entire league. Let’s spend some time deciding which of those Western Conference lines are worth investing in, focusing on three “over” bets you should make and three “under” bets you should make. Here are our preview’s guide, predictions and picks for this betting market:
Best Over Bets
San Antonio Spurs (over 44 wins @ -130 with 5Dimes)
The Spurs had their first season below 50 wins in 21 years in 2017-18, winning 47 contests with superstar forward Kawhi Leonard on the sidelines for all but nine tilts. The bookmakers seems to think San Antonio will continue its downward trend after trading Leonard and Danny Green for former Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl.
If anything, San Antonio looks like a slightly stronger team than last season. The Spurs’ best player after LaMarcus Aldridge in 2017-18 was probably Kyle Anderson, who is now a Memphis Grizzly. Anderson is decent, but DeRozan is an All-Star talent who fills a huge gap for the Spurs as a skilled perimeter shot creator. The team didn’t have that a year ago. It also didn’t have a solid backup big like Poeltl to man the middle.
Finally, the Spurs didn’t have great health luck a year ago and had inconsistent lineup combinations. Assuming better luck, legendary head coach Gregg Popovich and his troops should be much closer to 50 wins than 40.
Memphis Grizziies (over 33 wins @ -120 with 5Dimes)
Judging from last season, the Grizzlies looked like a team spiraling toward many years of incompetence. However, you have to remember that point guard Mike Conley didn’t play and the Grizzlies were focused more on tanking than on winning games. Conley and center Marc Gasol have excellent chemistry and basically guarantee that the team will be respectable if they are both healthy.
Memphis is not a supremely talented team. However, the squad is deep, defensive-minded and has both solid youth and heady veterans. Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., JaMychal Green, Garrett Temple, Chandler Parsons and Dillon Brooks should do a fine job supporting Conley and Gasol as role players in 2018-19.
The Grizzlies will not be a playoff team in a very competitive West. However, they definitely won’t be a complete doormat.
Utah Jazz (over 49 @ +100 with 5Dimes)
29-6. That was the Jazz’ record over the last 35 games of the regular season in 2017-18 once they worked through some injuries. Rudy Gobert patrolled the paint with power, young Donovan Mitchell found a scoring groove, Ricky Rubio got comfortable with his new team and Joe Ingles and Derrick Favors solidified their status as reliable role players.
Well, all five of those guys are back and don’t figure to decline at all in 2018-19. In particular, the development of Mitchell as a No. 1 scorer is one thing to watch. The athletic shooting guard grew more and more comfortable leading the Jazz offense as the season wore on.
After the Golden State Warriors, the Jazz have as good a chance as any other team to earn the No. 2 seed if they can stay healthy.
Best Under Bets
Golden State Warriors (under 63 wins @ -110 with 5Dimes)
The defending champion Warriors could win 70 games this season if they don’t have many injuries and they stay locked in all year. Adding All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins only strengthens their depth of star power.
However, Golden State learned this past season that earning the top seed in the conference really doesn’t matter. The Warriors won seven fewer games than the Houston Rockets in 2017-18, yet they beat the Rockets in a seven-game Western Conference Finals series culminating in a Game 7 victory on the road.
Golden State will make a concerted effort to keep their key players fresh for the postseason, which should come at the cost of a few wins during the regular season, especially in a strengthened Western Conference. Additionally, there could be some slight difficulties trying to get Cousins acclimated once he returns from his Achilles rehabilitation.
The Warriors will win around 58 to 60 games again. But, like last season, their performance in the regular season will have almost no bearing on what they accomplish in the playoffs.
Los Angeles Lakers (under 49 wins @ -110 with 5Dimes)
According to 5Dimes, the Lakers are expected to finish tied for third in the West with the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder. That seems very optimistic for a team that has averaged 25.2 wins per season over its last five campaigns.
OK, the obvious elephant in the room here is that Los Angeles just added LeBron James, the best player in today’s NBA. But the roster around him is not suited to winning a bunch of games in 2018-19. Los Angeles has good young prospects in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart, but they are inexperienced.
Additionally, the Lakers have very unimpressive three-point shooting on the roster and don’t have reliable big men after the losses of Julius Randle and Brook Lopez. LeBron really benefits from having shooters around him to space the floor for his drives.
James just won 50 games with the Cavaliers last season, but that was in a much weaker conference with an All-Star teammate (Kevin Love) and a veteran-laden squad. It’s unlikely that he gets to 49 victories in 2018-19 with the young Lakers.
Sacramento Kings (under 26 wins @ -110 with 5Dimes)
5Dimes projects the Kings as the West’s worst team in 2018-19. That’s probably a good prediction. Sacramento will be relying on lots of young players that will struggle on both ends of the floor. Most of the other teams in the Western Conference got better, including the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies, the three teams with fewer wins than the Kings a year ago.
So why, then, are the Kings projected at 26 wins? It has been 14 years since the West’s worst team has won that many games. In that span, the conference’s lowest seed has averaged 19.9 wins. Sacramento may not be quite that good
At least in terms of star power, the Kings just don’t stack up. Their best player is one of either Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic or Zach Randolph. Every other team in the conference has at least one player at or approaching All-Star level, but not Sacramento. The franchise will realize early on in the year that it won’t be competitive and will probably spend the year developing its young talent rather than trying to win as many games as possible.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.