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NBA Predictions: Western Conference Outright Picks & Betting Tips

Houston Rockets

Last Season: 53-29, 4th in conference (5th overall).
Western Conference Quarter-Finalist
Expected Starters: James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, Clint Capela.

High expectations were made of Houston after finishing 1st in the West two seasons ago, but they failed to compete in the 2018/19 season after dropping to 4th in the conference. James Harden continued his dominance of the league after dropping 30+ points in 32 consecutive games while Swiss star Clint Capela had a standout debut season with a double-double average in points and rebounds. Houston’s season ended in a repeat of the 2017/18 Western Conference finals against Golden State Warriors, although this time they were knocked out in the Quarter Final stages. Houston averaged 113ppg last season while giving up an average of 108.7ppg.

As we look forward to the new season, Houston fans have a lot to be excited about. Despite having zero picks in the draft, Houston massively strengthened their squad after trading for Russell Westbrook in the off-season. Westbrook remains the only newcomer for Houston with Chris Paul heading to Oklahoma City. Alongside Westbrook, 8 players joined the Houston Rockets in the off-season, most notably Tyson Chandler after one season with the Lakers. There is no doubt Houston will pose a massive threat in the West this season and they will surely be ones to watch when the playoffs come around in April.

With the Rockets going from strength to strength, they will surely better their record this season.

Los Angeles Lakers

Last Season: 37-45, 10th in conference (20th overall).
Last reached playoffs in 2012/13
Expected Starters: Lebron James, Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Danny Green.

Lebron James & Anthony Davis

The Lakers had a massive overhaul last season which saw them welcome many new faces including Lebron James, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson amongst others. Despite the overhaul, they had yet another terrible season with Lebron missing his first postseason since 2005.

That disappointing season has seen the Lakers start fresh yet again with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Lance Stephenson all depart the West coast. The departures freed cap space has enabled them to add Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins, Danny Green and many others to their ranks ahead of the new season. This new overhaul has seen Lakers rocket to 4/1 odds to win their 17th NBA Championship, ahead of all but the Los Angeles Clippers.

The addition of Anthony Davis should prove to be vital for the Lakers title hopes but his injury history will have fans worried ahead of the new season. The ‘brow’ played nearly 1000 minutes less last season and his extensive injury history also raises questions about his position on the court in LA. But one thing Lakers fans can be sure of, is a devastating partnership when he steps on the court alongside Lebron James.

Los Angeles Clippers

Last Season: 48-34, 8th in conference (12th overall).
Conference Champions in 2013/14
Expected Starters: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Ivica Zubac, JaMychal Green, Patrick Beverley.

What a time it is to be a fan of the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite being knocked out in the first round of the 2018/19 playoffs, the Clippers have made exceptional progress with the acquisition of current NBA Champions Kawhi Leonard and 6x NBA All-Star in Paul George. Kawhi is the hottest prospect in the league today after dropping 732 points in the postseason and lift the NBA Championship with the Toronto Raptors.  He averaged his highest minutes, points and rebounds per game last season and will no doubt light up the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The key addition of Leonard and George has put the Clippers right in the mix to win their first-ever NBA Championship after 49 years of heartbreak. They are favourites to lift the Championship at 15/4 odds. With odds favouring the Clippers this season, the best bet comes at 17/2 for Kawhi Leonard to be crowned MVP. He is on a side where they are very likely to rely on him racking up the points.

Golden State Warriors

Last Season: 57-25, 1st in conference (3rd overall).
NBA Finalist 2018/19
Expected Starters: Stephen Curry, D’Angelo Russell, Danny Green, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alfonzo McKinnie

The 2019/20 NBA season will see a new era as Golden State adapt to life without Kevin Durant. The 6 time NBA Champions will also move back to San Francisco after playing their final game in Oakland last season in the NBA finals.

While Kevin Durant was a huge asset to the dynasty, Golden State were successful before his acquisition and definitely have the firepower to remain in contention in the coming years. What will hurt Golden State the most will be the fact that Klay Thompson is likely to miss the entire regular season after suffering a torn ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals. Golden State also traded Andre Iguodala and Damian Jones while Quinn Cook, Demarcus Cousins, Jonas Jerebko and Shaun Livingston all saw there contracts expire at the end of last season.

Despite these setbacks, Golden State still have a fantastic line-up with D’Angelo Russell starting alongside Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. DLO racked up his highest points per game last season while also improving on his field goal percentage, three-point percentage and assists per game in his 2nd season with the Brooklyn Nets.

Their starting line-up will look very different at the start of the 2019/20 season but they definitely still have the firepower to compete during the regular season. They may not go as far as winning another Championship, but it will be interesting to see how far they can go in their first season without Klay and KD.

48 wins was enough to reach the NBA playoffs in the Western Conference last season and will likely be around the same mark again. The top sides have all strengthened while there hasn’t been a whole lot of movement towards mid-table. The depth of Golden State may come back to haunt them but they are more than capable of winning more than 48 games this season

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