NBA Western Conference Futures: Can Anyone Beat the Lakers?
The start of the NBA regular season is right around the corner, and FanDuel Sportsbook has posted odds for the Western Conference teams to make the Finals:
Top 10 Odds to Win
- Los Angeles Lakers +140
- Los Angeles Clippers +280
- Denver Nuggets +800
- Dallas Mavericks +1000
- Golden State Warriors +1200
- Utah Jazz +1600
- Phoenix Suns +2800
- Portland Trail Blazers +2800
- Houston Rockets +3600
- New Orleans Pelicans +4300
The Lakers stand out as the clear favorites, which is not surprising considering they’re the defending champs. They bring back the dynamic duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who might be two of the five best players in the entire league. Their supporting cast should also be improved in 2021. They did lose Danny Green and Rajon Rondo, but they managed to acquire Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, Wesley Matthews, and Marc Gasol during the offseason. Talen Horton-Tucker has also generated buzz as a breakout candidate given his play in the preseason.
The Clippers were the favorites to win the title at the start of the 2020 playoffs, but everything fell apart for them in the bubble. Team chemistry was a concern – and it might still be – and head coach Doc Rivers was ousted in favor of Tyronn Lue. That said, they still have one of the most talented rosters in the entire league. They brought in Serge Ibaka in the offseason, and he has the potential to be a huge addition.
After the two teams from Los Angeles, the Nuggets, Mavericks, Warriors, and Jazz make up the next tier.
The Nuggets managed to come back from back-to-back 3-1 series deficits during the postseason last year, but they ultimately came up short vs. the Lakers. However, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray deserve to be considered superstars, and the Nuggets have plenty of promising young prospects around them.
The Mavericks have the current favorite to win the MVP award in Luka Doncic, and his numbers last year as a 21-year-old were downright scary: 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 8.8 assists per game. The Mavericks boasted the top offense in the league last season, averaging 117.4 points per 100 possessions, and Doncic only figures to get better in his third season.
The Warriors and Jazz are more like fringe-contenders. The Warriors have to be taken seriously because of Steph Curry. He played in just five games last year, but he remains one of the most dangerous players in the entire league. His shooting is quite possibly the most powerful weapon in all of basketball, and it opens up easy opportunities for the rest of his teammates. Of course, the injury to Klay Thompson is a major blow to their title chances.
The Jazz always seem to overperform expectations, but that hasn’t been good enough to make them real threats in the postseason. They weren’t able to make any major improvements during the offseason, but they will get back Bojan Bogdanovic after he was forced to miss the playoffs last season.
Finally, the Suns will likely be very popular longshots. They went a perfect 8-0 inside the bubble last season and were able to acquire Chris Paul in a trade with the Thunder. Paul is still one of the most impactful players in the league on a per-minute basis, and he’ll be surrounded by two potential studs in Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.