After a wild NBA Offseason, Nick Ballistreri makes his Western Conference Predictions, and his pick to represent the West in the NBA Finals.
In what is becoming an offseason norm, the NBA produced fireworks once more. Superstars are beginning to realize that they can almost dictate where they play year in and year out. Stars have teamed up across the Western Conference to form scary duos, and the West is as stacked as it’s been in years.
Let’s look at some of the Western Conference’s key offseason moves:
- Russell Westbrook traded to the Rockets
- Anthony Davis traded to the Lakers
- Mike Conley traded to the Jazz
- Paul George traded to the Clippers
- D’Angelo Russell traded to the Warriors
- Dwight Howard traded to the Lakers
- Hassan Whiteside traded to the Blazers
- Kawhi Leonard signs with the Clippers
- JJ Redick signs with the Pelicans
- DeMarcus Cousins signs with the Lakers (now out for season)
- Danny Green signs with the Lakers
- Bojan Bogdanovic signs with the Jazz
- Kevin Durant leaves Warriors, signs with Nets
- Chris Paul traded from Rockets to Thunder
Wow. What an incredible offseason of movement around the NBA. Anthony Davis gets to team up with LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and James Harden are running it back for Round 2, and the Jazz finally have a point guard. While everybody is talking about the Lakers, the Clippers may have won the offseason by securing Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George! Teams like the Nuggets are hoping on internal improvement, and the Warriors are being counted out (prematurely).
Are you ready for a wild ride? Below, I’ll be giving my favorite to win the Western Conference, and some Dark Horse Candidates.
Odds to Win the Western Conference:
- Clippers +200
- Lakers +275
- Rockets +500
- Jazz +800
- Warriors +1000
- Nuggets +1200
Just looking at this, I can say with confidence that I would not be surprised if any of these teams represented the West in the Finals. Let’s get into my predictions.
Western Conference Pick:
Like I said, there are 6 or more teams that I believe can come out of the West. Both Los Angeles teams had an offseason to dream of, as they secured the stars they wanted this offseason. The Rockets acquired Russell Westbrook to pair up with James Harden, and while some think they can’t coexist, they have in the past. The Jazz have been on the verge in recent seasons, and now they have added Mike Conley, a very underrated winning player. The Warriors lost Kevin Durant, but they still employ Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Remember those guys?
With all that being said, my pick is the Los Angeles…..
Lakers at +275. Last year was an anomaly for a LeBron James lead team. Injuries to LeBron himself, as well as key players such as Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram were the cause of their struggles, and ultimately lead them to miss the Playoffs.
This time around is different. The Lakers are to put it kindly, stacked. First things first, they acquired Anthony Davis. Davis is an undisputed superstar in this league. We’ll take his 2017-18 season as an example because last year was a weird one for him. Davis averaged 28.1 PPG, 11.1 RBG, and 2.6 BPG. That is a ridiculous stat line, and he will be able to take the load off of LeBron.
The Lakers also added depth to their roster, something they lacked last season. They signed guards Danny Green and Avery Bradley, two proven players in this league. They also signed Dwight Howard, who while not what he used to be, can play in this league with the right motivation. I think this Lakers team will prove to be all the motivation he needs.
And lastly, they still have LeBron James, the man who made 8 straight NBA Finals appearances before last year. He’s rested, motivated, and ready to take over the West. I’ll be here watching the show.
Western Conference Dark-Horse Pick:
Although the Lakers are my favorite, I think I made it very clear that it can go any which way this season, especially in the West. With that being said, let’s take a look at my Dark-Horse pick, the team who could sneak through the cracks and make a run this season.
The Golden State Warriors are my sleeper pick this season. Why is this this? Well, for starters, they are +1000, so a $100 bet would pay a $1,000. That’s a nice payout. Besides that, they still have a really good team.
Yes, they lost Kevin Durant, but it’s not like the Warriors were a bad team before Durant. No, exactly the opposite actually, as the Warriors nearly won back-to-back titles and had an NBA-record 73 win season before Durant came to town. So I think they’ll be just fine.
They still have Steph Curry, who I believe may have another MVP season coming, and Draymond Green will continue to do the little things for the team. The question mark here is the health of Klay Thompson, who tore his ACL in the Finals. Thompson’s targeted return appears to be around February, and I believe they can fill his absence with their newly signed guard, D’Angelo Russell.
Russell is coming off a season in which he averaged nearly 21 PPG and lead the Brooklyn Nets to the playoffs. He will be a welcome addition for the Warriors, and will take some of the burden off of Curry while Thompson is out.
The Western Conference will be an entertaining one for all of us to keep track of. With all the offseason action, I’m excited to see these teams in action with their new rosters. It’s the most stacked it’s been in years, and the season can’t come fast enough. However, the more things change, the more they stay the same, and give me LeBron and the Lakers to come out on top.