NBA Picks: Western Conference Winners

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NBA Picks: Western Conference Winners

After several trades, scuttled deals and player franchise moves, the NBA preseason is underway. Opening night is fewer than two weeks away. 

One of the most interesting developments in the offseason was the Utah Jazz trading Rudy Gobert for five players and five draft picks, bringing in one of the biggest trade returns in NBA history.

The season is shaping up to be exciting for fans and for those interested in NBA betting.

Let’s look at which teams might emerge as Western Conference contenders.

Who Will Win the Pacific Division?

Despite losing two key players from last season’s team, the Golden State Warriors are the favorite to win the Pacific Division at +175 odds as offered at BetMGM Sportsbook

Gary Payton and Otto Porter are no longer with the team, and Andre Iguodala hasn’t decided on his playing future. Still the team’s championship nucleus remains.

The Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns are next in line to win the Pacific Division, getting +200 odds. The Los Angeles Lakers sit with odds of +800, which is the highest any team with LeBron James on it has been priced. 

That alone reflects the market’s sentiment that the Lakers are a long shot. 

However, the Lakers do not have to worry about coming in last in the division because the Sacramento Kings will be the worst team in the NBA this season.

My recommendation for a bet on this division winner is to wait until the season starts and look for the Warriors at any price north of +200.

Who Will Win the Southwest Division?

The Southwest Division will be the most competitive in the Western Conference. 

The Grizzlies are the favorite at +110, with the Dallas Mavericks right behind, getting +125 money. 

The New Orleans Pelicans are on the move, currently priced at +400, and they will take a giant step not only in the standings but also in the playoffs. 

The Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs will be the cellar dwellers, competing with the Kings to avoid having the worst record in the NBA.

I like betting the New Orleans Pelicans +400 to win the Southwest Division.

Who Will Win the Northwest Division?

The Northwest Division features the Denver Nuggets priced as +145 favorites and the Minnesota Timberwolves at +150 money.

The Portland Trail Blazers may be able to make a run at these two teams, as they are priced at +900, but they will have to remain healthy and play consistently well.

The Denver Nuggets were one of the quieter franchises in the offseason, with the exception of Nikola Jokic signing the richest contract in NBA history. The Nuggets were 48-34 last year and lost in the first round of the playoffs. This is a team that is determined and refocused to make a big run in the playoffs. 

The Nuggets front office did a great job acquiring DeAndre Jordan and Bruce Brown Jr. and drafting former Kansas star Christian Braun with the 21st pick. This franchise is expected to do better than last year, and I think they will contend for a championship.

The Utah Jazz are priced at +1800 and are in the first year of a rebuilding phase for the franchise in the aftermath of the Rudy Gobert trade. They have the ingredients for long-term success, but it won’t come this season.

Finally, and for pizza money-sized bets only, the Oklahoma City Thunder at  +20,000 is an attractive bet because of the price tag and the talent of an extremely young team.

What Will the Western Conference Playoff Picture Look Like?

I see the Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Pelicans and L.A. Clippers making the playoffs. 

I predict four of the five Pacific Division teams will make up the top four favorites to win the Western Conference. 

I don't see how the Lakers are going to make the playoffs, let alone win the conference championship.

I think the Denver Nuggets are the best value bet on the board right now.

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John Ryan

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