29 October 2013

Roundtable: NBA Win Totals - Western Conferece

By Pauly
New York City

Here is our roundtable on NBA Eastern Conference Win Totals.

"Fear the beard?"

Out in the wild wild west... The Los Angeles Clippers are the team to beat, but they'll have intense competition for the #1 seed from an aging San Antonio team and an Oklahoma City squad without Russell Westbrook for a quarter of the season. Even mid-level teams like Golden State, Memphis and Houston will be formidable opponents. The West also has a handful of young teams (New Orleans, Portland and Minnesota) jockeying for the last two playoff spots. Meanwhile, Dallas is hoping Dirk Nowitzki still has some gas left in the tank to make a run at the postseason, and the high-flying Denver Nuggets have a new coach with Brian Shaw. Then there's the Lakers, who will go as far as hobbled Kobe Bryant takes them. Although the West is stacked this season, they also have three really bad teams -- Utah, Phoenix, and Sacramento -- that could easily lose 50+ games

The LVH sportsbook in Vegas released these lines at the start of October...


L.A. Clippers — 57
2012-13 Record: 57-25
Championship Odds: 8-1

Pauly: UNDER - The Clippers have top billing in Hollywood these days. After winning 57 games last year, the Clippers were embarrassed by Memphis and bounced in the first round of the playoffs. Head coach Vinny Del Negro got fired, which was the best move the Clips could've made. The worst coaches in the league was replaced by Doc Rivers, who can win big games in the playoffs. On the court, it's still the Blake Griffin and Chris Paul show. They have a strong supporting cast with JJ Redick, DeAndre Jordan, Jared Dudley. The Clips have a legit shot at the #1 seed, but that's only because OKC doesn't have Russell Westbrook.

Derek: UNDER - The Clippers are the team to beat out West with new coach Doc Rivers at the helm, but I don’t see them winning more than 57 games. They’ll probably breeze through the regular season than get knocked off by the Spurs, Thunder or Warriors come playoff time, because Blake Griffin only knows how to dunk and he’s usually banged up toward the end of the season.

Shamus: UNDER - Intriguing context here within which to demonstrate both the worth of Doc Rivers as a coach and how good these Clippers really are as all agree they were limited ultimately by VDN. Besting this line should equal a top seed in a conference full of tough teams. Are the Clippers a #1 seed? I'm thinking more like #3.


San Antonio Spurs — 55.5
2012-13 Record: 58-24
Championship Odds: 8-1

Pauly: OVER - This ancient empire will hang around for another year. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker are a combined 104 years old, but that doesn't matter much because they are ready to pass the torch to the next generation of Spurs like Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Cory Joseph. Coach Popovich uses his entire bench and finds a way to win no matter who is on the court. It'll be close, but the Spurs should win in the upper 50s and have a shot at sneaking by the Clippers and stealing the #1 seed.

Derek: OVER - The Spurs just win. Expect them to keep winning unless Father Time catches up with Duncan and company.

Shamus: UNDER - You'd expect the Spurs to continue to be a top tier team, but I'm finally going to bet on slight drop off this time as San Antonio gets caught in between the older guys' decline and the younger guys' rise.


Houston Rockets — 54.5
2012-13 Record: 45-37
Championship Odds: 10-1

Pauly: UNDER - Don't believe the hype. Dwight Howard was supposed to be the savior in Los Angeles, but he showed up with a surgically-repaired back and walked into a team in turmoil. Howard's back is healthier and he no longer works in a "toxic environment" so he should flourish, right? Howard has a fragile ego, which makes him a high-maintenance headache. Can he handle playing second fiddle to James Harden? It'll take a full season or two before Harden-Howard get comfortable playing together. Until that happens, the Rockets are not even the best team in Texas. They'll be lucky to crack 50 wins.

Derek: OVER - The Harden-Howard tandem will interesting to watch. I expect them to kick butt during the regular season. Fear the beard!

Shamus: OVER - James Harden's beard possesses magical properties that include the ability to cast a spell of harmonious contentment over any locker room, including one in which Howard hangs his size 18s.


OKC Thunder — 50.5
2012-13 Record: 60-22
Championship Odds: 9-2

Pauly: OVER - Russell Westbrook is expected to miss 25% of the season, but Kevin Durant is Superman and OKC is strong enough to stay way above .500 during his absence. Serge Ibaka is a human fly swatter and now a legit threat on offense. Reggie Jackson is a capable backup to Westbook, and Jeremy Lamb will finally prove why the Thunder acquired him in the Harden trade. Doesn't matter how many wins OKC gets so long as Westbrook is healthy when the playoffs roll around. So 60 wins is out of reach but 53-54 wins is doable when you have Durant, who can light it up any night.

Derek: OVER - Even if Russell Westbrook isn’t 100%, Kevin Durant will easily carry this team to 50+ wins.

Shamus: OVER - Going over as well, as Durant will carry the team through the less-competitive early portion of the schedule, then as other teams tire during the second half, Westbrook returns to help make the Thunder the best in the West.


Golden State Warriors — 49.5
2012-13 Record:  47-35
Championship Odds: 30-1

Pauly: OVER - The Warriors were one of the most exciting teams to watch last year when Stephen Curry falls into "the zone" and takes over a game by bombing 50+ points. The Warriors' future hinges on Stephen Curry's Golden Ankle. If Curry stays healthy, then the Warriors have a legit shot at 50+ games. Andre Iguodala was a major offseason acquisition that makes an already good team instantly better.The bench is thin, but if Andrew Bogut, David Lee, and Curry remain healthy, then the Warriors can be a Top 3 team in the West. That's right. When the Warriors lock up the #3 seed, just remember you heard it here first.

Derek: OVER - The Warriors have a great young team that can knock any team off in the playoffs. Watch out for this team featuring Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, and David Lee.

Shamus: OVER - Lots of fire power, led by Curry who's a wonder to watch and with a big boost this year from Iguodala. Obtaining the latter meant sacrificing some depth, though, which becomes especially significant should Curry or Bogut go down (which both have done before). Still gonna bank on at least 50 in the win column, though.


Memphis Grizzlies — 49
2012-13 Record: 56-26
Championship Odds: 25-1

Pauly: OVER - I don't know what to make of the Griz without Lionel Hollins as the head coach. Hollins really whipped the Griz in shape last year. All five starters are returning (Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Tony Allen, and Tayshaun Prince), but even with that loaded squad, they might only be the 5th or 6th best team in the West. It's not the fault of Zach Randolph and company that the Western Conference is stacked and the Griz have to fight like hell to fend off Golden State or Houston for the #4 seed.

Derek: OVER - Who doesn't love Zach Randolph's and Marc Gasol's play on the court? This team just finds ways to win.

Shamus: OVER - The West is deep. Unlike the Warriors, the Grizzlies are deep, too, and with a Western Conference finals run under their belts they’ve got some collective experience to help them with the endgame this time around.


Denver Nuggets — 47
2012-13 Record: 57-25
Championship Odds: 40-1

Pauly: UNDER - The Nugs are a good team trying to reinvent themselves, but you usually want to fade a team with identity issues. The Nugs cleaned house in the offseason. George Karl is out and Brian Shaw is in as the new head coach. Shaw ditched Karl's high-flying offensive attack (run-and-gun and chuck as many treys as possible) for a mellower system more traditionally balanced with an emphasis on post play. The Nugs have two big dudes roaming the paint -- JaVale McGee on the block and Mr. Excitable Kenneth Faried -- but they are often inconsistent, which drove George Karl nuts. The Italian Rooster a.k.a. Danilio Gallinari is still out after shredding his knee last season. The Nugs lost Andre Iguodala to free agency so there's a huge hole at #2, but the Nugs have a plethora of point guards -- Ty Lawson, Andre Miller, Little Man Nate, and Randy Foye.

Derek: UNDER - Brian Shaw finally gets his shot as the new head coach. The Nugs have a good nucleus, but the West is too tough right now. 

Shamus: UNDER - Going under as well. I like Shaw -- who incidentally replaces last year's NBA Coach of the Year -- and it will be interesting to see if he can actually get his team to slow down. Feel like Denver is kind of halfway to rebuilding mode already, though, and with a new GM might go ahead and move more fully in that direction depending on how things get off the ground.


Dallas Mavericks — 44
2012-13 Record: 41-41
Championship Odds: 30-1

Pauly: UNDER - Oh how the mighty have fallen. The championship squad from 2010-11 is long gone. The new Mavs won't even break .500 this season. Most bookies have Dallas as a potential #7 or #8 seed, but they'll bubble the playoffs with record south of .500. Dirk Nowitzi is healthy, but a desperate Mark Cuban assembled an curious cast of supporting characters including gunslinger Monta Ellis, moody Shawn Marion, out-of-shape Sam Delembert, old-man Vince Carter, and Jose Calderon, who can shoot the three-ball but can't play a lick of defense. Unfortunately, Nowitzki doesn't have enough firepower along side him to handle some of these stacked teams in the West.

Derek: OVER - If Dirk Nowitzi is healthy, the Mavs should kill the over especially after adding Monta Ellis to the team.

Shamus: UNDER - Bubbling the playoffs sounds right to me here, and with a schedule full of tough ones I'd say 40 wins might even be a stretch.


Minnesota Timberwolves — 41
2012-13 Record: 31-51
Championship Odds: 100-1

Pauly: OVER - This could be the breakout year that the T-Wolves have been waiting for for the last... well, since their inception as an expansion team. It's up to the Medicine Gods. Will Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love stay healthy? If Love/Rubio can play 150+ combined games, then the T-Wolves should win in the mid-40s and lock up a #7 or #8 seed.

Derek: UNDER - Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love are exciting to watch but this team stinks. I expect them to finish under .500.

Shamus: UNDER - They will score points in bunches, but they will give up many, too, usually more to other high-flying conference foes. Love, Pekovic, and Kevin Martin have big ups on the offensive end, but all are liabilities on D. And while Rubio can defend the Wolves would be better off if the point didn't have to work so hard on the other end.


New Orleans Pelicans — 40
2012-13 Record: 27-55
Championship Odds: 100-1

Pauly: UNDER - Not even a name change can help the lowly Hornets-cum-Pelicans. Sure, they acquired Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, but they're not the impact players that can help Anthony "Unibrow" Davis and Ryan Anderson crawl out of the Western Conference basement. Pundits expect the Pelicans to be at least a break-even team. That's lofty hopes for an inexperienced squad. They'll improve upon last year's ugly 27-win season, but fall short of the 40-win mark.

Derek: UNDER - The Pelicans are loaded with young talent, but even new additions Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans can’t save this team from another losing season. Also, is Eric Gordon ever going to be healthy again? They're too loaded at the guard position. I smell a mid-season trade on the horizon.

Shamus: UNDER - I wonder how many teams actually make this specific jump from 27 to 40 wins year-to-year? Winning 40 -- which usually means missing the playoffs and reaching the very bottom of the lottery -- is never the goal, with those approaching it from below generally dealing their way out of contention and only those falling from above actually finishing at the 40-win mark. The Pelicans are in start-over mode. Anyhow, I can't see any team that gives Austin Rivers significant minutes cracking 40.


Portland Trailblazers — 38.5
2012-13 Record: 33-49
Championship Odds: 100-1

Pauly: OVER - I have faith in the Trailblazers. They're young, but they'll surprise a bunch of teams. Management cleared out the bench and brought in some vets -- Robin Lopez, Mo Williams, Dorrell Wright, and Earl Watson -- and then drafted C.J. McCollum and Allen Crabbe. The starting five looks solid: LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Brook Lopez, Damian Lillard, and Nicolas "Junk Puncher" Batum. Lillard and Batum are rising stars who will help Portland string together enough wins to sneak into the #8 seed.

Derek: OVER - Robin Lopez is a huge addition for this team. LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard are super studs. A possible playoff run for this team.

Shamus: OVER - Lacking both knowledge and/or opinion here (aside from being a LaMarcus Aldridge fan), I'll go with the consensus here.


Los Angeles Lakers — 33.5
2012-13 Record: 45-37
Championship Odds: 100-1

Pauly: OVER - The Lakers are the biggest shitshow in the NBA ever since Dr. Jerry Buss died. In a city that loves drama, the team is a reality TV casting producer's wet dream: feuding sibling co-owners, a hobbling hall of famer in the twilight of his career, a dinged-up Canadian, a surly Spaniard, and an offensive guru who looks more like a cop than a head coach. Can the Lakers win 34 games? Depends on how fast Kobe returns from his Achilles injury. Pau Gasol struggled to adjust to D'Antoni's offense last season and looked lost in a fog like one of Jeff Spicoli's surfer burnout pals. But Dwight Howard flew the coop, which leaves Gasol as the lone big guy standing. Plus, he's auditioning for a new gig next season. Injury-prone Steve Nash is another year old and another half-step slower. If Nash and Kobe can play 100 combined games this year, then the Lakers can pull out at least 40 wins.

Derek: OVER - The Lakers lost Dwight Howard to free agency so they better hope this is one of those "addition by subtraction" moves, or D'Antoni will be looking for a new job. Fast.

Shamus: UNDER - Expectations plummet after last year's misreading of the Lakers by every NBA pundit, most of whom followed Bill Simmons' lead to pronounce that by dealing Harden, Oklahoma City "handed the Western Conference to the Lakers." Aging Hall of Famers Kobe and Nash will miss more games than they play, and the Lakers will score a decent lottery spot this time around.


Sacramento Kings — 31.5
2012-13 Record: 28-54
Championship Odds: 200-1

Pauly: UNDER - I thought the Kings moving to Seattle were a done deal? Never trust a Maloof. Now the Kings have to stay in Sacramento and beg the locals to come out and support a team that was about to bail on them. If I was a Kings fan, I'd be pissed and boycott the team.  Sucks to be DeMarcus Cousins. Playing for the Kings is like playing in Yugoslavia... no one knows he exists in the obscurity of Sacramento. Cousins is a beast, but too bad he's the best player on a craptacular team that no one gives a rat's ass about.

Derek: UNDER:  DeMarcus Cousins is the only reason to watch the Kings play. I, for one, am pulling for them to move to Seattle. Bring back the Sonics!

Shamus: UNDER - We underwent this weird push-pull with a franchise here in Charlotte during the final years of the Hornets stay. Thing was, the team was winning right up until the end, which tended to obscure the whole owners-versus-the-city imbroglio. Such is not the case for the Kings, who looked like they might move north, but now seem destined to go south.


Utah Jazz — 27.5
2012-13 Record:  43-39
Championship Odds: 200-1

Pauly: OVER - Believe in magical Mormon Underwear! The Jazz are a team in flux and made a big trade to acquire Trey Burke and French wunderkind Rudy Gobert. The Jazz are a young and inexperienced squad (with a promising Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors), but they have a steady-shooting Gordon Hayward, plus Marvin Williams coming off the bench. The o/u of 27.5 seems too low, even for a young team like the Jazz but then again, I doubt they can win more than 35 games with Trey Burke out for two months with a broken finger.

Derek: UNDER - Who's even on this team?

Shamus: UNDER - I stand in solidarity with Derek, marveling with him at Pauly's familiarity with this team.


Phoenix Suns — 21.5
2012-13 Record: 25-57
Championship Odds: 2000-1

Pauly: UNDER - Once again the Suns will be the doormat of the Western Conference. How long before they dump Goran Dragic and/or Marcin Gortat? At least Eric Bledsode and Channing Frye might get some playing time. I feel bad that Jeff Hornacek has to coach through this nightmare season. I hope he has a prescription for Xanax or Valium. He's gonna need it.

Derek: OVER - Eric Bledsode is a great pickup but this team is a bottom dweller.

Shamus: OVER - Last year two teams finished under 21.5, both in the East -- Charlotte (21) and Orlando (20). Meanwhile no one in the West won fewer games than Phoenix. I'll say the Suns set over this line.


ICYMI... check out our roundtable on Eastern Conference Win Totals.

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