4 +EV NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE BETTING ODDS
As opposed to the Eastern Conference where the value rests squarely at the top, in the loaded West – where the intense gravitational-pull of the Lakers and Clippers has depressed odds across the board – the value seems to be firmly in the middle of the pack. That’s why I want to bypass the two LA teams today and instead focus on four alternative season-long value-bets in the Western Conference.
Ready? Alright then, let’s begin!
Houston Rockets +400 – Breakeven Percentage: 20%
Although it’s the biggest favorite on this list, I somehow still feel that the Rockets have the thinnest edge to win the Western Conference than any of the other teams discussed below, at least from a betting perspective. Because while they’ve definitely improved this off-season, there still remains some huge shortcomings in the Rockets’ roster-construction that appear likely to pose a problem come crunch time. With that said, it’s hard not to include the team that was right there in two straight playoffs and are now bringing back a lineup that is significantly better than it was last season, all thanks to one big move.
That’s right Russ haters, don’t get it twisted, trading Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook straight up (roster-wise) was a major coup for Houston. With Harden in his prime and the entire franchise built directly around him, there is no tomorrow for the Rockets! So first-round picks or not, unloading an aging and eternally hated Paul, who Harden all but called out as the biggest problem for Houston (see video below), for one of the most dominant forces the league has ever seen was an absolute mic-drop for Houston GM Daryl Morey.
James Harden says he knows exactly what the Rockets need to do to get over the hump. pic.twitter.com/g3IFs5wSAy
— ESPN (@espn) May 11, 2019
If you’ve watched Rockets games the past couple of years you’ve no doubt noticed that outside of Harden (and to a lesser extent Eric Gordon), Houston lacked the type of player who had the tenacity and killer-instincts that wins game after game during the regular season, two qualities that could not more perfectly describe the incoming Westbrook. Of course, we all know Russ’ shortcomings; Russ needs to keep himself under control on the court, Russ needs to become an even better facilitator than he already is, and Russ forever needs to improve his outside shootings. Fortunately for him, he’s now on a team that thanks to the way it has been built around James Harden requires exactly zero additional outside shooting.
For this same reason, the Rockets are also wonderfully adept at being facilitated to after spending the past few seasons learning how to maximally exploit the intense gravitational pull that is The Beard, a pull that only gets more difficult for opponents to solve now that they must also worry about getting a tomahawk-jam to the face from a streaking Westbrook. That’s why, if both Russ and Harden learn to coexist peacefully, and also to trust the rest of their team implicitly (while having that trust rewarded with high shooting percentages), there is absolutely no way Houston is not better suited for a race to the top of the Conference than they were last year.
With that said, if there’s a knock on the Rockets (and there are actually a couple), it’s that their depth is suspect at best, with players like Austin Rivers and Danuel House expected to match-up against second units across the league night in and night out. And with a lack of reliable big-men riding the bench, Clint Capela will need to wildly elevate his game at both ends of the court, something we’ve yet to see happen at the level that’s required. And as with every other team in the West, the Rockets will need to solve the troubling dilemma of how to matchup defensively when facing the duos of Lebron-AD and Kawhi-George if they want to have a shot at finishing atop the Conference.
But heck, if the Rockets were able to accomplish everything they did the past couple seasons without Westbrook, they sure as heck can improve on it with him. And if former number one pick Anthony Bennett can translate some of his G-league success – where he shot a scorching 45% from behind the arc – to the NBA, or Daryl Morey can make another splash by trading Capela for a more fitting piece of the puzzle (say Kevin Love from the Cavs), there’s no reason the eternally bridesmaid Rockets can’t transform into the belle of the ball. Besides, can you think of another team in the West who will load-management less and care about winning the Conference more? I think not.
Golden State Warriors +800 – Breakeven Percentage: ~11%
I don’t know about you, but I feel quite strongly that people are sleeping on one of the greatest dynasties of all-time now that Durant is gone and Klay is missing. In fact, offering +800 odds on the Warriors – who made huge some pretty huge waves in free-agency this year – seems straight-up disrespectful. Yes, they lost KD, no doubt a huge negative, but let’s not forget that Golden State won before he got there and that just this past season half the talking-heads were actually discussing whether the Warriors were a better team without him. And while it won’t be easy being without Klay Thompson for the first few months, the Warriors have proven time and time again that their brand of basketball is bigger than any one player not named Stephen Curry.
But more importantly, the signings of D’angelo Russell and Willie Caulie Stein were massive moves that have gotten far less fanfare than they deserve. Because while everyone is parroting the idea that Dlo and Steph can’t play in the same back-court, or that he’s nothing more than a trade-asset, I, for one, shudder in excitement thinking of the defensive nightmares opposing defenses will have trying to defend the Dlo/Willie pick and roll with Steph and eventually Klay using their godlike off-the-ball movement to put defenders in the impossible situation of having to decide whether to collapse and leave two of the greatest shooters the basketball world has ever seen in space, or to stick to the Splash Brothers and let Russell shred them apart while setting up Willie & Draymond for easy looks inside. Or as Willie himself put it…
And let’s not forget that even after losing Iggy and Livingston, only one of which is even remotely meaningful, the Warriors still have a better (and younger!) bench than they’ve had in some time with the signings of Glenn Robinson III, Omari Spellman, and Alec Burks. So while it’s most definitely going to be a much tougher road than the past half a decade, I won’t be making the mistake of sleeping on the Golden State dynasty just yet!
Utah Jazz +850 – Breakeven Percentage: ~10%
Last season the Jazz appeared to be one player short of making real noise in the Western Conference; and so this off-season, they went out and got him in the form of Mike Conley. They then turned around and added 3 more in talented scoring playmaker Bojan Bogdanovic, backup boss Ed Davis, and consummate professional Jeff Green.
Not only did trading for Conley already accomplish the one thing the Jazz set out to do this off-season – which is open up the floor for Donovan Mitchell to enable him play off-the-ball more frequently – but when factoring in the addition of Bogdanovic, who scored 18ppg while shooting nearly 50% from the field and 43% from beyond the arc last season, the Jazz were able to transform one of their few weaknesses into an area of strength. Additionally, by signing Davis and Green, Utah was able to minimize the on-court impact of losing Derrick Favors while still keeping the veteran presence he brought to the locker-room.
That’s why, in a conference as stacked as the West, the defensive juggernaut Utah Jazz made some powerful offensive moves and now appear to be one of the most value-heavy season-long bets in the NBA. At least outside of…
Denver Nuggets +1200 – Breakeven Percentage: ~7.5%
Last season the Nuggets dominated the West during the regular season before a lack of experience and streaky outside shooting eventually led to their downfall. However, they’ll be even better suited for a race to the trophy in 2019-20 with one playoff run already under their belt and one of the most anticipated newcomers to the league – Michael Porter jr – finally ready to join the party. But MPJ is not alone, with highly touted prospects Jarred Vanderbilt and draft-day steal Bol Bol also looking to get in on the action – though only time will tell whether the latter will be able to contribute this season, or whether he’ll need to spend the year rehabbing and getting caught up to speed much like MPJ did this past year.
With Trey Lyles leaving Denver to chase mediocrity with the Spurs after seeing the writing on the wall, it appears the former Missouri star Porter Jr is likely in for some extended minutes with his injuries hopefully behind him. This change should help Denver shore up the area that hurt them most last playoffs – reliable outside shooting – and could be one of the elements that puts them over the top. Additionally, having seen Mason Plumlee get exposed vs an unimpressive Portland front-court last post-season, the Nuggets will be motivated to let potential board-beast Jarred Vanderbilt get extended run as well; which, if he can play up to expectations, could lead to him spending significant time on the floor alongside future hall-of-famer Nikola Jokic, thereby forming what could one day be the most devastating front-courts in the league.
And although the Nuggets had a relatively quiet off-season, they did make one important splash by trading a first-round pick to the OKC Thunder for vastly underrated forward Jerami Grant, who is another front-court beast I’d expect big things from this season backing up newly-resigned veteran Paul Millsap. While he’s never gotten the recognition he deserves playing in Westbrook’s immense shadow, Grant is coming off a career-best season where he averaged 13.6 points while shooting 39 percent from behind the arc and dominated on the defensive end, at times playing all three front-court positions.
So while the LA teams have gotten the most attention this off-season, getting +1200 odds on the team who finished with the 4th best record in the league last season is as close to a slam-dunk-value-play as exists in the entire NBA.
That’s it for today, bet safe out there and make sure to DM me on Instagram for an invite to join our free sports-betting community on Discord, where 300 members are talking picks and strategies around the clock.
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