The Western Conference’s best record resided in the Southwest last season, with the Spurs proving there is plenty of tread left on the tires. Can San Antonio find the fountain of youth again - this time during an 82-game slate - and win the division in 2012-13.
Dallas Mavericks (2011-12: 36-30 SU, 32-34-0 ATS)
Odds to win division: +525
Season win total: 45.5
Why bet the Mavericks: Dallas won with defense last season as its offense was one of the worst in the NBA. The Mavericks have overhauled their roster this season and if the eight new players gel, Dallas should make the playoffs with relative ease. But it will have to rely on defense to do it once again this season.
Why not bet the Mavericks: Uncertainty. Dallas is on the brink of a rebuilding season in the next couple of years. With Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman dealing with injuries and Jason Terry now in Boston, there are a lot of unknowns with the Mavericks. If they struggle early, they may decide to start their rebuilding process sooner rather than later.
Season win total pick: Under 45.5
Houston Rockets (2011-12: 34-32 SU, 32-34-0 ATS)
Odds to win division: +3,500
Season win total: 30.5
Why bet the Rockets: Houston has been teetering on the playoffs for a few seasons now and eventually it is going to crack the Top 8. GM Daryl Morey revamped the roster and the Rockets look significantly different with the headliner being the acquisition of Jeremy Lin. Houston also landed Omer Asik, who is their first true center since Yao Ming.
Why not bet the Rockets: Youth. Houston has become one of the youngest teams in the NBA after its offseason moves. While the Rockets will be an exciting group to watch, their inexperience will certainly have them go through growing pains. In the loaded West, they will be up against it versus most teams.
Season win total pick: Under 30.5
Memphis Grizzlies (2011-12: 41-25 SU, 29-37-0 ATS)
Odds to win division: +300
Season win total: 48.5
Why bet the Grizzlies: Memphis has made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, but it will need everything to break right this season. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are a dynamite duo and they are formidable pair for most teams except the Lakers. Memphis plays strong defense and with its big inside presence, the Grizzlies are always a tough out.
Why not bet the Grizzlies: Shooting. The Grizzlies can’t shoot straight and their offensive efficiency leaves a lot to be desired. And the loss of O.J. Mayo is of big concern for this team since he was their best perimeter player who could create his own shot. There are too many offensive questions and if injuries occur, the Grizzlies have an uphill battle on their hands.
Season win total pick: Under 48.5
New Orleans Hornets (2011-12: 21-45 SU, 35-31-0 ATS)
Odds to win division: +5,000
Season win total: 25.5
Why bet the Hornets: New Orleans instantly became better when it drafted Anthony Davis with the No. 1 overall pick. The Hornets also have other exciting youngsters ready to breakout and they certainly have the talent to steal some wins throughout the season. This team will be getting plenty of points in most games so they can be dangerous in certain spots.
Why not bet the Hornets: Inexperience. New Orleans is building for its future as it has youth throughout the roster and also on the bench. Head coach Monty Williams is young and still learning on the job and, since he has to develop the young talent, the Hornets will go through some extended losing spells.
Season win total pick: Under 25.5
San Antonio Spurs (2011-12: 50-16 SU, 42-20-4 ATS)
Odds to win division: -175
Season win total: 55.5
Why bet the Spurs: San Antonio was incredible in the regular season last year. It had the best record with 50 wins. In fact, the Spurs have won 50 games or more in 13 straight seasons. The Spurs offense is dynamic and with the focus on up-tempo basketball, this is one tough team to beat.
Why not bet the Spurs: Age. San Antonio is old. The Spurs best players are all over the age of 30 with three of them over 34. While they are still productive, the league’s better teams are all younger than San Antonio. They got by with the shortened season last year, but with a full 82-game schedule this year, the Spurs can be vulnerable.
Season win total pick: Over 55.5