2017-18 NBA Betting Tips Western Conference Preview By Marc Lawrence of Playbook.com Teams are listed alphabetically with the Westgate SuperBook season win opening totals on in parenthesis.
Dallas Mavericks (35.5) – The big news in the offseason was that rather than bringing new impact talent to the team, owner Mark Cuban decided instead to re-ink Dirk Nowitzki, Nerlens Noel and Yogi Ferrell. The new point guard this season, though, figures to be 19-year old Dennis Smith Jr. from NC State, the ninth pick in this year’s draft. His play in the Las Vegas summer camp drew comparisons to famous point guards like Derrick Rose, Penny Hardaway, and Steve Francis. While the core from last year’s team is largely in place, it was a team that managed to win only 33 games. That’s not good news in the fierce Western Conference. – Betting nugget: The Mavs are 2-12 SU and 1-12-1 ATS as favorites against .680 or greater division opponents since 2008.
Denver Nuggets (45.5) – The 40 wins registered by the Nuggets left them one game shy of Portland for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Season win-total 34.5 last year. The biggest offseason move was trading Danilo Gallinari to the L.A. Clippers and acquiring four-time All-Star Paul Millsap in return from Atlanta. Center Nikola Jokic exploded and was voted the league’s second most improved player (behind the Greek freak, Gianis Antetokounmpo. Aside from Jokic, the other strength is the team’s point guard position where Jameer Nelson, Jamal Murray, and Emmanuel Mudiay will be splitting minutes. – Betting nugget: Denver is 35-15-1 ATS as a dog off a loss since December of 2015, including 24-7-1 ATS away.
Golden State Warriors (67.5) – The icing on the cake in the Warriors’ 67-win regular season last year was its performance in the postseason where they lost only one game, in the NBA finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The bad news for the rest of the league is that this year’s roster looks a lot like last year’s with the exception of G Nick Young coming over from the Lakers. The only question remaining is whether a Cavs-Warriors IV showdown in on the horizon. – Betting nugget: The Warriors are 0-9 ATS as favorites of 9 or more points without rest against rested opponents.
Houston Rockets (55.5) – Houston represents the biggest jump of all team’s season win total from last year to this (Rockets 41.5 last year). It’s predicated largely on the fact that the Rockets recorded 55 regular season victories last season. Not factored in, however, is the loss of G’s Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, which was done in order to bring Chris Paul in from the Clippers. Interestingly, other than the 56 wins they recorded two seasons ago you have to go back to the 1996-97 season find a Houston team that won more games than that number. – Betting nugget: Houston is 3-14-1 ATS as division road favorites of more than 7 or more points.
LA Clippers (43.5) – The 10-game drop from last year’s 53.5 win total is based largely in Chris Paul’s defection to Houston. Thus the question begs whether or not there is value at this reduced number. The additions of G’s Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams from the Rockets, along with F’s Danilo Gallinari (Nuggets) and Sam Dekker, adds plenty of punch. With Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan underneath it’s my feeling the ‘over’ may be one of the better season-win totals being offered this season. – Betting nugget: The Clippers are 6-24 SU and 8-22 ATS as home dogs against Western Conference opponents off a SUATS loss.
Los Angeles Lakers (33.5) – Is the Lakers 9 game hike from last year’s 24.5 win total a result of Lonzo Ball, or the departure of Timofey Mozgov (just kidding)? Either way, last year’s 26-season wins surpassed only the Phoenix Suns. In addition, while Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope head out to LA LA land, the loss of Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell cannot be underestimated. With the pressure squarely on rookie Ball’s shoulders, expect the purple-and-gold to remain stuck in their losing ways in the fierce Western Conference again this campaign. – Betting nugget: The Lakers are 8-16 ATS home on Sundays in non-division games, including 1-9 SUATS when not getting 5 or more points.
Memphis Grizzlies (37.5) – Losses from last year’s roster of Toy Allen, Zach Randolph, and Vince Carter last year, with no draft picks this season and only the addition of Tyreke Evans shrunk the Grizzlies season win total from 43.5 last year to 37.5 this season. Randolph’s departure after with eight seasons leaves the team thin at power forward. Landing a playoff spot will be an accomplishment this season. They will go only as far as All-Star PG Mike Conley can carry them. – Betting nugget: Memphis is 7-21-1 ATS as division favorites against foes off a double-digit loss, including 0-7-1 ATS the last eight games.
Minnesota Timberwolves (48) – I read where the last time the Timberwolves made the playoffs was when Karl-Anthony Towns was just 8 years old. With the addition of Jimmy Butler and the presence of Andrew Wiggins, only the Golden State Warriors will feature a starting lineup with three players who averaged more than 20 points per game last season. A rise of 6.5 wins from last year’s 41.5-season win total might be a reach, though. – Betting nugget: The Wolves are 13-36 ATS as non-division home dogs, including 2-16 ATS as dogs of 6 or more points.
New Orleans Pelicans (39.5) – Newly acquired PG Rajon Rondo is on record as saying he thinks his job with the Pelicans will be the “easiest I’ve ever had.” That’s because he’ll be feeding Antonio Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Jrue Holiday. The fact of the matter is the Pelicans won 34 games last season despite dropping their first 8 games right out of the gate, all while adjusting to Cousins joining the team in late February. Color this sleeper squad dangerous. – Betting nugget: The Pelicans are 29-8 ATS as division home dogs since 2007, including 25-2 ATS versus .580 or greater opponents.
Oklahoma City Thunder (52.5) – Yes, the power additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony put the Thunder just behind the Golden State Warriors as the team to beat in the West, but you’re not stealing anything, here, though as last year’s season win total was 45.5, and Anthony’s addition has raised the bar to 53.5 wins. So in one year, the franchise goes from it’s lowest moment with the defection of Kevin Durant to the Warriors to its most promising with the new Big Three now in place. Remember, while 54 wins look attainable on paper, life in the volatile Western Conference can be perilous. Be careful here. – Betting nugget: The Thunder is 25-9-1 ATS without rest following a loss against unrested opponents, including 10-1-1 ATS as a dog.
Phoenix Suns (28.5) – Top draft pick Josh Jackson, the No. 4 overall player in this year’s NBA draft, was impressive in the 2017 NBA Summer League, averaging 17.4 PPG and 9.2 RPG. He will be a starter at the small forward position for the Suns this season. In addition, SG Davon Reed, the 32nd pick this year’s draft, also performed in the Summer League, averaging 14.9 PPG and 4.9 RPG. Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury and will be out 4-6months. With Brandon Knight’s season-ending ACL injury, beyond Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker, there is not much talent or depth on this team and the Suns will be light in the backcourt. While they discarded a lot of dead wood, they are young and rebuilding. Anything higher than the cellar will be an accomplishment. – Betting nugget: The Suns are 21-6 ATS as home dogs against foes off back-to-back SUATS wins, including 18-4 ATS in non-division games.
Portland Trail Blazers (42.5)– The Blazers edged out the Nuggets for the final playoff spot last season. This season, with Denver and Minnesota stronger and Portland virtually unchanged from last year’s squad, there figures to be a heated battled for the final two spots in the Western Conference playoff race. Once again guards Damon Lillard and CJ McCollum will lead the charge. The key, however, will be continued improvement from C Jusuf Nurkic, who exploded onto the scene with Portland following his mid-season acquisition from Denver. – Betting nugget: The Blazers are 30-17-1 ATS as division home dogs, including 6-0 ATS following a win of 6 or more points.
Sacramento Kings (27.5) – Despite an inability to find a consistent starting lineup last season with the mid-season trade of DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans, the Kings still managed to win 32 games. They added plenty of young talent this offseason, along with a few veterans (read: Zach Randolph, George Hill, and Vince Carter – who seems like he’s 50 years old). De’Aaron Fox (the 5th pick in this year’s draft from Kentucky) and Frank Mason III (college basketball’s Player of the Year last season) are welcome additions. With the continued maturation of SG Buddy Hield, look for the improvement to continue in Sacramento this season. – Betting nugget: The Kings are 14-7 ATS as double-digit division road dogs, including 7-1 ATS following a double-digit loss.
San Antonio Spurs (54.5) – Spurs won 61 regular season games last season en route to winning the Southwest Division. The core of the team returns along with new addition Rudy Gay (18.7 PPG and 6.3 RPG) who will serve as the team’s 6th man. In addition, the team re-signed C Pau Gasol to a three-year contract extension. Behind team MVP Kawhi Leonard, who will miss the preseason nursing a quad injury, I still make them the team to beat ahead of the Rockets in their division. – Betting nugget: The Spurs are 22-10-3 ATS at home without rest, including 13-2-1 ATS following consecutive wins.
Utah Jazz (40.5)– Last year’s season win total for the Northwest Division-winning Jazz was 47.5 so an adjustment has certainly been made for the loss of All-Star F Gordon Hayward and PG George Hill. Ricky Rubio was brought in to secure the backcourt. If newly acquired Thabo Sefolosha (Atlanta) steps up, and Derrick Favors can return to his usual 16 PPG and 8.0 RPG the Jazz, and be playoff performers once again this season. But there are certainly a lot of ‘ifs’ that need to happen. – Betting nugget: Utah is a long-term 27-5 SU and 23-8-1 ATS home off a win against non-rested foes off consecutive SUATS losses, including 19-2 Su and 17-3-1 ATS in non-division games.