NBA Western Conference Betting Preview: Pacific Division Predictions
by Robert Ferringo and Nolan Sinclair - 10/27/2008
Make no mistake: The Pacific Division is the express domain of the Los Angeles Lakers. They have more than three times as many division titles (19) as the next closest franchise (Phoenix, six). And the irony of both the 2007-08 and the 2008-09 seasons is that the player that is recently responsible for Laker dominance is now seemingly responsible for Phoenix's collapse.
Feb. 7, 2008. That was the day the Suns acquired one Shaquille O'Neal from the Miami Heat in a move that shipped Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to South Beach, and shifted the style of play that the Suns had used to field some of the best teams of the last five years. On that February morning the Suns were 34-14 and leading the Western Conference. But the shift from run-and-gun to half-court slug backfired. The Suns settled for the No. 2 seed and were passed over the Lakers, who absolutely stole Pau Gasol before the trade deadline.
This year there's a pretty good bet that the division will follow form. Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum are both healthy and Gasol will be in the fold for the whole season in L.A. The Suns will do their best to keep pace with the Lakers by relying on superstar Steve Nash - the best thing to come out of Canada since Wolverine and Mike Myers - and an over-the-hill Shaq. The rest of the teams are simply scrambling not to be fodder.
Golden State and the L.A. Clippers shuffled around some deck chairs, with oft-injured Baron Davis heading to the Clips, and Sacramento is likely to hit rock bottom and battle for the worst record in the NBA. It seems like just yesterday when the Mavs and the Kings used to have some of the best games of the season, but now both are struggling to keep up.
Here's a look at the Pacific Division:
2007-08 Record: 57-25
2008-09 NBA Title Odds: 3/1
2008-09 over/under wins total: 56.5
2008-09 projected wins: Over
Key Additions: Josh Powell, Andrew Bynum (injury)
Key Losses: Ronny Turiaf
The Lakers used a fantastic stretch run to make it into the NBA Finals last summer - only to get rocked by the Celtics. A big problem in that series was the fact that the Lakers got dominated at the point guard spot. And now that Derek Fisher has turned 34 they still have issues at that position. Jordan Farmar looked good in spurts but I am not quite sure that he is the answer. The Lakers front line is the best in the West and they also have the benefit of having the best player in the world on their team. So they got that goin' for em'. Which is nice! Look for the Lakers to repeat as Western Conference champs - as long as Kobe doesn't wear down from his long summer.
2007-08 Record: 55-27
2008-09 NBA Title Odds: 12/1
2008-09 over/under wins total: 51.5
2008-09 projected wins: Under
Key Additions: Matt Barnes
Key Losses: Gordon Giricek
Great example of how the oddsmakers really have win totals down to a science. I had the Suns pegged at 50-32 this season, so that number is about right. This Suns squad is getting a tad bit older with Nash, and Shaq moving further up the 30s ladder. However, the Suns still do have Amare Stoudemire, who, I think, still has a lot to prove considering everyone is crowning him as a "dominant" player in this league. Sorry, but 22 and nine is All Star worthy, not dominating. The depth of the Suns is what bothers me. This is a team that could fall three or four spots in the West with one player from their top six or seven getting hurt. The Suns are similar to that new shirt that you got at Banana Republic. Looks great, nice and expensive, but if you pull that one loose thread the whole thing falls apart in your hands.
Golden State Warriors
2007-08 Record: 48-34
2008-09 NBA Title Odds: 60/1 (*Note* opened at 30/1)
2008-09 over/under wins total: 39.5
2008-09 projected wins: Under
Key Additions: Corey Maggette
Key Losses: Matt Barnes, Baron Davis, Mickael Pietrus
The Warriors won 48 games last year and are now projected at 39.5, and I think that is even a little too high. Losing Davis, Barnes, and Pietrus is too much for a team in the strong Western Conference. The Warriors are hoping that Corey Maggette can fill some of that void, but I dare say he cannot. Actually, let me rephrase: there is no chance in hell Corey Maggette can fill that void. What was the Warriors front office thinking? Maggette has only played more than 65 games once in his entire career, and now he is the go-to player on this Warriors team. On top of all this Monta Ellis is now out for the first three months of the season because he got hurt riding a motorcycle. The best part of that story is he lied about it, got caught, and is now suspended for 30 games. That helps team morale. What a chump! And the Warriors are headed back to the basement.
L.A. Clippers 2007-08 Record: 23-59 2008-09 NBA Title Odds: 50/1 (*Note* opened at 75/1) 2008-09 over/under wins total: 33.5 2008-09 projected wins: Over Key Additions: Baron Davis, Marcus Camby, Ricky Davis, and Eric Gordon (draft) Key Losses: Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, and Smush Parker
That is a lot of transactions for the Clip Joint this off-season. They lost 40 points and 13 rebounds a game between Maggette and Brand, but added 36 points a game between Davis and Davis. Also kick in one of the NBA's leading rebounders and shot blockers in Marcus Camby. Now, taking everything into consideration, and looking at the Clippers and the Warriors, you can't look me in the eye and tell me that the Warriors will finish ahead of the Clips. Yet the oddsmakers (same ones I was just praising) have Golden State's win totals propped up. Now, there is one tremendous elephant in the Clippers' room: all of their key acquisitions are terribly injury prone and both The Baron and The Camby Man have already been nicked up this preseason.
2007-08 Record: 38-44
2008-09 NBA Title Odds: 125/1 (*Note* opened at 75/1)
2008-09 over/under wins total: 31.5
2008-09 projected wins: Under
Key Additions: None
Key Losses: Ron Artest
Three things about this Kings team that I love, and the rest I couldn't care less about because they will be bottom feeders in the Pacific Division, Western Conference, and the NBA. First, Kevin Martin is a stud! He is going to fill it up for a team that has not much else. Second, go to the Kings page and click on No. 5, Bobby Brown, and tell me that he doesn't look exactly like the Bobby Brown that we have all come to know and love. New Edition in the house. And finally, do yourself a favor and find the YouTube clip of Bill Raferty calling a Syracuse-Rutgers game which he starts off with a classic line about Kings guard Quincy Dooby. Oh yeah - did I mention the Kings will stink this year?