The decision by the Los Angeles Clippers to upgrade from Vinny Del Negro to Doc Rivers could end up being one of the best moves of the offseason and oddsmakers have set the Clips as the favorites in the NBA's Pacific Division. The Golden State Warriors, who added their own impressive piece in Andre Iguodala, will be the main competition after a playoff run that was highlighted by a trip to the Western Conference semifinals.
Golden State Warriors (2012-13: 47-35 SU, 42-39-1 ATS)
Odds To Win Division: +180
Season Win Total: 49.5
Why Bet The Warriors: Coming off a run to the Western Conference Semifinals (where they took the Spurs to six games), there is tremendous optimism surrounding this team. Considering they finished sixth last year in the conference standings, and added Andre Iguodala in the offseason, common sense says they will be better in 2013-14. They didn't even have a healthy David Lee in the playoffs either. They won 47 games last year and if they're actually better, then playing Over the season win total makes sense. They will battle with Memphis for the 5th seed.
Why Not To Bet The Warriors: What about Steph Curry's ankle? If he does get injured, the team no longer has the luxury of Jarrett Jack backing him up (Jack went to Cleveland). It seemed that the team's best lineup was going small with Harrison Barnes on the floor, but with Lee back and Iguodala in the fold, is that going to happen often enough? Head Coach Mark Jackson's resume says no.
Season Win Total Pick: Under 49.5 Wins
LA Clippers (2012-13: 56-26 SU, 45-37 ATS)
Odds To Win Division: -250
Season Win Total: 57.0
Why Bet The Clippers: Spoiler alert! This is my pick to finish with the best record in the Western Conference. Upgrading from Vinny Del Negro to Doc Rivers as the head coaching position is about as quantum a leap as you can have. (Just ask Chicago about going from Del Negro to Tom Thibodeau). With Chris Paul running things, this has the potential to be an awesome offensive team. They have ranked 4th in terms of points per possession the last two seasons, and again, they have rid themselves of Del Negro!
Why Not To Bet The Clippers: Defensively, this team is not as good. They lack depth in the frontcourt behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, both of whom are slightly overrated when you look past all the highlight dunks. Speaking of lack of depth, the team also traded Paul's backup, Eric Bledsoe, this past offseason. They will need Paul to stay healthy.
Season Win Total Pick: Over 57 Wins
LA Lakers (2012-13: 45-37 SU, 34-46-2 ATS)
Odds To Win Division: +1000
Season Win Total: 33.5
Why Bet The Lakers: Well, it's the Lakers and they still have Kobe Bryant. Despite some major dysfunction last year and a failed experiment with Dwight Howard, the team still won 45 games and made the playoffs. Most people know that this team is going to be bad, but I think that the oddsmakers have over-adjusted their number as a result. Knowing Kobe Bryant, he won't miss that much time.
Why Not To Bet The Lakers: My god, this team has the potential to be a disaster defensively. They are really old too. This is not a good recipe for winning games in the Western Conference. If things get bad, Bryant may sit. And that would be a problem given the lack of depth. God bless Dr Jerry Buss' soul, but his children have no idea what they are doing as they attempt to run this team. Why is Mike D'Antoni still the coach? Their big offseason acquisition was Nick Young!
Season Win Total Pick: Over 33.5 Wins
Phoenix Suns (2012-13: 25-57 SU, 32-47-3 ATS)
Odds To Win Division: +20000
Season Win Total: 21.5
Why Bet The Suns: Can you believe that it was just three years ago that this team was in the Conference Finals? Last year was the worst in franchise history (25 wins) since their expansion year of 1968-69. In fact, it was just the third time in franchise history that the Suns finished with less than 30 wins in an 82-game win season. The books are calling for them to have an even worse season in 2013-14, so at least history says there's value on the Over with the season win total.
Why To Bet The Suns: I don't think that this team has bottomed out yet. They are still trying to figure out the roster in the post-Steve Nash era. Robert Sarver could be the worst owner in the sport and has flushed this once-proud franchise down the toilet. I would expect them to tank and trade away players at the deadline. This is without question the worst team in the West.
Season Win Total Pick: Under 21.5 Wins
Sacramento Kings (2012-13: 28-54 SU, 38-42-2 ATS)
Odds To Win Division: +10000
Season Win Total: 31.5
Why Bet The Kings: Unlike the division rival Suns, the Kings are no longer saddled with terrible ownership as the Maloofs are out of the picture. While still one of the worst teams in the league, having Phoenix in the division at least should assure them of not finishing in last place.
Why Not To Bet The Kings: They have some good pieces, but unfortunately those pieces don't really fit together. DeMarcus Cousins is a good player, but should not be any team's best player. It's a very young team as well. They have not won 30 games in any of the last four non-lockout seasons, so the books asking them to do so here seems like a stretch. This is still a rebuilding project.
Season Win Total Pick: Under 31.5 Wins