Basketball is officially back in Los Angeles and with it comes one of the most wide-open Western Conference fields in recent memory. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George join LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the City of Angels with both Los Angeles teams the clear cut favorites to win the conference at less than 3 to 1. The middle of the pack in the Western Conference is where I see value as the season gets underway this week with a handful of teams between +400 and +1300 that have the potential to do damage come the postseason. With so much parity and newly acquired star power at the top, let’s take a deeper look at the 2019-2020 Western Conference and see where we can find some value. Check out all Western Conference future odds here.
What Are the Odds?
These odds were taken from FanDuel Sportsbook on October 20, 2019
|Team||Western Conference Odds||Regular Season Win Total|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+200||56.5|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+270||51.5|
|Golden State Warriors||+900||47.5|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+2100||46.5|
|San Antonio Spurs||+3500||46.5|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+5000||38.5|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+10000||32.5|
What Happened Last Year?
|Golden State Warriors||57||25||69.50%||35-17||13-3||30-11||27-14||35-46-1||38-44-0|
|Portland Trail Blazers||53||29||64.60%||29-23||6-10||32-9||21-20||45-36-1||43-37-2|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||49||33||59.80%||28-24||9-7||27-14||22-19||42-40-0||40-41-1|
|Los Angeles Clippers||48||34||58.50%||28-24||11-5||26-15||22-19||45-36-1||45-36-1|
|San Antonio Spurs||48||34||58.50%||30-22||10-6||32-9||16-25||43-37-2||43-38-1|
|Los Angeles Lakers||37||45||45.10%||25-27||9-7||22-19||15-26||35-45-2||32-49-1|
|New Orleans Pelican||33||49||40.20%||23-29||8-8||19-22||14-27||37-44-1||44-37-1|
Best Bet for Western Conference Champion?
Denver Nuggets (+1200)
With all of the offseason splashes, not just in Los Angeles, but across the Western Conference, the Nuggets come into the 2019-2020 season offering a ton of value at 12:1 to win the conference. Just a year removed from posting the second-best record in the West and earning the two seed in the playoffs, the Nuggets return looking to avenge their second-round exit to the Portland Trail Blazers. In a summer filled with so much movement across the league, the Nuggets chose to take the opposite approach and bring back their core led by the combo of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
While Will Barton is expected to get the start at the small forward position, Nuggets 2018 first-round draft pick, Micheal Porter Jr., is making a strong case in the preseason for playing time early on when the season gets underway this week. Porter Jr., who Denver picked 14th overall in this last year’s draft, was widely considered a potential number one overall pick out of high school before a back injury derailed him his freshman year at Missouri. Though he has yet to play a minute of meaningful basketball in the NBA, the Nuggets are convinced he can make a splash right away if he’s able to stay healthy.
Gary Harris and Paul Millsap round out the starting five for this Nuggets team that has already proven to have established chemistry in a league that requires superior chemistry to win at the highest level. The Nuggets also feature one of the deepest benches in the Western Conference in Monté Morris and the newly acquired Jerami Grant, who is really the only notable addition to this roster since we last saw them take the court. Denver was also one of the best defensive teams in 2018, ranking third in defensive rebound percentage (51.9%) and first in three-point defense (34.4%). They should only improve with another year of continuity under head coach Mike Malone in his fifth season in Denver.
In a league known for its intense travel schedule, the Nuggets consistently take advantage of playing at home. In 2018, the Nuggets had the best record in the NBA on their home court at 34-7 and have become masters at stretching the court and using the altitude of Denver to their advantage, especially early in the season when opponents are more prone to getting winded. At over 10-to-1 odds, I see a ton of value in a play on this Nuggets team to do real damage in the Western Conference this season.