Welcome to the 2018-19 NBA season. Listed below is our preview of each team in the Western Conference. Note that all teams are listed alphabetically with the opening Westgate SuperBook season win totals on 8/5/18 contained in parenthesis.
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Dallas Mavericks (34.5) – Coming off their worst season since 1997-98, the Mavericks. Strangely, other than the addition of free agent C DeAndre Jordan to a one-year deal, Dallas did little in the offseason to shake up the roster. They will instead count on continued improvement from G Dennis Smith Jr., a second team All-Rookie performer who averaged 15.2 PPG last season, and other young talent including first-round pick Luca Doncic. Veterans Dirk Nowitzki and Harrison Barnes figure to settle this fledgling roster. A small step forward is probable but will go likely unnoticeable in the powerful Western Conference. – Betting nugget: The Mavs are 0-7 SUATS ATS as favorites against .680 or greater division opponents since 2015.
Denver Nuggets (47.5) – A season ending loss to the Timberwolves denied Denver the opportunity to make the playoffs last year. And with it it’s now been five years since the Nuggets last appeared in the postseason. They locked up C Nikola Jokic, signed PG Isaiah Thomas and drafted Michael Porter Jr. the former prep phenom. A key this season will be the return to health of Paul Millsap, a former All-Star who was limited to 44 games last season. But in order for it all to work they will need to improve on a defense that hasn’t finished in the Top 10 since 2008-09. Note: They will open the campaign at home for 10 of their first 15 games, meaning a strong start could be in the offing if they wish to avoid last year’s season-ending train wreck. – Betting nugget: Denver is 41-18-1 ATS as a dog off a loss since December of 2015, including 29-9-2 ATS away.
Golden State Warriors (62.5) – Winners of the NBA championship three of the last four years, including back-to-back titles, the Warriors are led by the star power of Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry – the best one-two punch in the NBA. It didn’t matter that Curry played in only 51 games because of an ankle injury, the support cast is good enough to make the playoffs on their own merit. The offseason addition of DeMarcus Cousins – recovering from an torn Achilles and expected to be in the lineup after the holidays – is scary and could carry them to another level this postseason. And while Father Time paid Andre Iguodala a visit last season he will provide the glue until Cousins is ready to contribute. Still, they are very much the team to beat. – Betting nugget: The Warriors are 2-11 ATS as favorites of 9 or more points without rest against rested opponents.
Houston Rockets (54.5) – After accepting the biggest jump of all season win totals from 2017-17 to last year (from 41.5 to 55.5) and then flying over the total behind a dominant 65-17 effort, the Rockets are focused on taking the Larry O’Brien Trophy away from the Golden State Warriors this season. GM Daryl Mobley acquired Carmelo Anthony and added James Ennis. Word has it that valuable sixth man Eric Gordon, a dangerous scorer off the bench, will be added to the starting lineup to open the spot up for Anthony. It should be noted that Anthony shined in that role with Team USA in the Olympics. The key though is having the best guard tandem in the league – Chris Paul and James Harden – healthy throughout the playoffs this season. – Betting nugget: Houston is 20-8 ATS away in double no-rest situations when coming off a double-digit win.
LA Clippers (35.5) – The Clippers season win total has fallen from 53.5 to 43.5 to 35.5 the last three years. This is not what billionaire owner Steve Ballmer signed up for. But it’s what happens when you lose Chris Paul and Blake Griffin over the course of the past two seasons. To their credit, even with a rash of injuries and Griffin moving on at midseason last year, the Clippers managed to finish the season with a winning record. Now with Mr. Clipper DeAndre Jordan, gone GM Jerry West is tasked with keeping head coach Doc Rivers in place (he traded his son, Austin, this summer). Having super sixth man Lou Williams helps but with the buzz in La La land centering around LeBron James these days, they’ll likely be in the NBA lottery at season’s end. – Betting nugget: The Clippers were 10-1 SU and 9-2 ATS as division favorites last season.
Los Angeles Lakers (47.5) – Unlike their crosstown rivals, the Lakers have witnessed their season win totals climb from 24.5 to 33.5 to 47.5 over the course of the last three years. The latest jump of course surrounds the arrival of the King in Hollywood, LeBron James. Before his arrival, the Lakers put the franchise in the hands of Julius Randle, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram who were simply too inexperienced to win enough games to earn a playoff berth. That is expected to end this season, though, with James assuming the throne. They were forced to move Randle in free agency, though, and then signed four free agents to one-year deals. The question is whether or not any of the four have anything left in the tank. As a result head coach Luke Walton is on the hot seat. – Betting nugget: The Lakers are 8-22-2 ATS home on Sundays in non-division games against opponents coming off consecutive SUATS losses.
Memphis Grizzlies (33.5) – Just about everything that could go wrong for Memphis did last year. Losing super PG Mike Conley to a season ending injuring and having All-Star C Marc Gasol embroiled in a dispute with former head coach David Fizdale took the Grizzlies completely out of the playoff race before the end of the calendar year. Current head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was ecstatic at landing prized draft pick Jaren Jackson Jr., as he’ll team with new additions in Kyle Anderson, Shelvin Mack and Omri Casspi to form a nice blend with Chandler Parsons. And it appears second-round pick Dillon Brooks from Oregon was an absolute steal. With Conley and Gasol two of the best players in the league at their positions, a bounce-back looks to be in order for the Grizzlies this season. – Betting nugget: Memphis is 2-13-1 ATS as division favorites against foes off a double-digit loss, including 0-8-1 ATS the last nine games.
Minnesota Timberwolves (44.5) – The opening season win total took a hard hit from 44.5 down to 41.5 upon word of Jimmy Butler’s request to be traded. It leaves the Wolves in a sticky situation and the onus squarely on Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague to return to the playoffs for a second straight year (after a previous 13-years absence). Former Bulls and Heat F Luol Deng was signed as insurance. But they will need Wiggins to step up as his stats fell heavily last season immediately after signing a five-year max deal. Through it all head coach and president of operations Tom Thibodeau is under the microscope and he’ll hope that former All Star Derrick Rose has something left in the tank. – Betting nugget: The Wolves are 39-93-2 ATS as non-division home dogs of 6 or more points, including 2-18 ATS without rest.
New Orleans Pelicans (45.5) – Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Nikola Mirotic helped power the Pelicans to the playoffs last season. So did DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo but they bailed as free agents during the offseason. In their stead New Orleans inked Jahlil Okafor as a free agent and acquired Julius Randle in a trade with the Lakers. They will certainly need a breakout season form PG Elfrid Payton. Anchored by arguably the most talented player in the loop (Davis), this team will be back playing in the postseason once again this year if Okafor, only 22 years old, revives his career. Mark it down. – Betting nugget: The Pelicans are 31-9 ATS as division home dogs since 2007, including 27-3 ATS versus .580 or greater opponents.
Oklahoma City Thunder (50.5) – The biggest additions made by the Thunder in the offseason was one it weren’t forced to make and the other they were thrilled to land. When free agent swingman Paul George opted to re-sign with OKC they once again became viable contenders in the West. Trading Carmelo Anthony and landing G Dennis Schroeder (19.4 PPG) to come off the bench was a huge upgrade. With 12 of the first 21 games at home, behind all-everything G Russell Westbrook, a fast start will make them the team to beat in the Northwest division. – Betting nugget: The Thunder is 17-7 ATS as a dog without rest following a loss against unrested opponents, including 10-1 ATS against foes also coming off a loss.
Phoenix Suns (28.5) – With Igor Kokoskov agreeing to become the Suns new head coach this season, he would have fit like peanut butter to jelly had he opted to select Luka Doncic, the MVP of the European League, with the first pick in this year’s draft. After all, as coach of the Slovenian national team he coached him in the EuroBasket tournament. Phoenix instead opted for local talent Deandre Ayton who brings an athletic NBA-ready body into the league from Arizona. With leading scorer Devin Booker and complimentary players TJ Warren and Josh Jackson alongside, the climb back to respectability begins. – Betting nugget: The Suns are 32-10 ATS as home dogs against foes off back-to-back SUATS wins, including 15-1 ATS when Phoenix is coming off a double-digit loss.
Portland Trail Blazers (41.5)– The defending Northwest Division champs are still peeved after being swept by New Orleans in the first round of last year’s NBA playoffs. Expect first team NBA G Damian Lillard (26.9 PPG) to take full charge this season. His 1,052 points in the second half last season were second only to LeBron James’ 1,073. With running mate CJ McCollum’s 21.4 PPG they form a lethal one-two guard combination. With pretty much a pat hand coming back this season anything but another playoff push would be disappointing in the Rose Garden this season. – Betting nugget: The Blazers are 9-5 SU and 11-3 ATS as division home dogs following a win, including 6-0 ATS off a win of 6 or more points.
Sacramento Kings (25.5) – Meet the team with the longest current playoff drought in the NBA. The last time the Kings drank Gator Aid from a playoff cooler was during the 2005-06 postseason. And according to NBA.com rather than making wholesale changes, the Kings are locked into a build-from-within mindset. They’ve decided to keep their cap space flexible in case of a trade opportunity at the deadline. The selection of Marvin Bagley III with the No. 2 pick of the draft met with some surprise when they passed on Luca Doncic, who likely would have given them some desperately needed instant firepower (the Kings were dead last in scoring last season, averaging 98.8 PPG). Improvement will need to come from last year’s top pick, 7-foot C Willie Cauley-Stein. In addition, potential stars in the making could be De’Aaron Fox and 6-foot-10 F Harry Giles, who missed his rookie season with a knee injury. – Betting nugget: The Kings are 3-12-1 ATS as favorites against opponents coming off a loss.
San Antonio Spurs (43.5) – After winning 61 regular season games two years ago, and then failing to win 50 games last season, the Spurs season win total is as low as its been in memory under Greg Popovich this year. It’s what happened when time caught up with the likes of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli. Topping it off, the best player on the roster since Duncan’s retirement, Kawhi Leonard, was traded for All-Star G DeMar Rozan. One thing is for certain: LaMarcus Alridge and Pau Gasol are going to need to pick up their games if the Spurs hope to make the playoffs this season. – Betting nugget: The Spurs are 17-7 ATS as home underdogs when coming off a SUATS loss and facing an opponent coming off a win.
Utah Jazz (48.5 / 40.5)– The Jazz rallied win 29 of their final 35 games to reach the playoffs last season. They were driven by the outstanding play of rookie Donovan Mitchell, along with and the league’s Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. Utah immediately went to work in the offseason to re-sign free agents Derrick Favors and Dante Exum, before adding added Duke marksman Grayson Allen with their first-round pick. If Exum can remain healthy and Mitchell does not regress, PG Ricky Rubio could be in for a career year. – Betting nugget: Utah is a long-term 28-5 SU and 24-8-1 ATS home off a win against non-rested foes off consecutive SUATS losses, including 20-2 SU and 18-3-1 ATS in non-division games.
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