In the NBA, the West is still best. At least it has been for the past few years in the NBA. The West no longer has teams in the seventh and eighth seeds with better records than their Eastern Conference counterparts, but the top of their standings is far more elite.
This pecking order can be broken up into different tiers based on the team’s level of play. There are five groupings in which the teams are divided:The Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs are in the elite group. This is a no brainer, as they are not only the top two teams in the West, but in the entire league.
The Houston Rockets and, to a lesser extent, the Los Angeles Clippers round out the West’s once-deeper list of championship contenders. Of the two, the Rockets are the more dangerous option. General manager Daryl Morey has assembled a cast and crew that can keep pace offensively with anyone in the league, including the Warriors. Their defense is sometimes an issue, but that’s only really a huge problem against Golden State and San Antonio. The Clippers, meanwhile, are right there. But injuries continue to rip their way through the core each and every season, and it’s unclear whether they’ll keep the Big Three of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan intact for much longer.
The Memphis Grizzlies, Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder make up the West’s suddenly shallow pool of bubble teams. Oklahoma City is probably the weakest of these bubble squads after losing Kevin Durant. Russell Westbrook still makes them good, but unlike the Grizzlies and Jazz, it would take more than a few things to break their way for them to be legitimate threats in the West.
NOT GOOD, NOT BAD:
This tier is made up of the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves—squads that can sometimes be promising, but are nowhere near good enough to move up a tier. All of them, though, have the potential climb up the ladder in the near future—particularly the Pelicans (DeMarcus Cousins trade), Timberwolves (awesome young core) and Nuggets (Nikola Jokic breakout).
Throw the Dallas Mavericks in here, too. They are right on the fringes, closer to basement-dwellers, but head coach Rick Carlisle always seems to carve enough production out of whatever talent he’s working with to at least keep the Mavericks somewhat relevant.
Down here we have the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings. While the Lakers and Suns have enough quality young talent in place to make you believe they might usurp some of the teams ahead of them in the near future, the Kings are in the early stages of a rebuilding process after trading DeMarcus Cousins. They were a crummy team to begin with and are now even worse—in an unpredictable way, no less. Put them on the back burner of your betting repertoire. It makes more sense to monitor to Suns’ and Lakers’ progress within this tier.
What Are The Current NBA Western Conference Standings
As playoffs near, some teams will be playing for the postseason or trying to better their position, while others might continue to lose to get into a better draft pick. Track of the progress in the wins and loss column right here.
Use the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs as a measuring stick on the futures front. If teams are within sniffing distance of their record, you’re free to look into them as dark-horse big-picture plays. Whatever squads are light years behind them, though, should be considered taboo for your purposes.
Best Of The West
At the same time, though, your mission when betting on the Western Conference should be to maximize your returns by sussing out worthy dark horses.
This isn’t to say you should be throwing money and bets at any old team and hope to be successful. Instead, the goal is to try finding squads that could, quite feasibly, beat either the Warriors or Spurs in a seven-game series, then work their odds accordingly.
Only one team looks like it’s a real threat on this front right now: the Houston Rockets. They have built a floor-spacing terror, and if a few things go their way, they’ll be equipped to outgun San Antonio or, less likely, Golden State in a playoff date.
Give some residual consideration to the Utah Jazz here, too. They are scrappy as anyone when they’re at full strength and can force the Warriors outside their comfort zone by accentuating half-court pace. That doesn’t give them a marked edge over the Spurs, but again, it’s equally important to find long-shot Warriors kryptonite options.