NBA 2016/17 – Betting Preview

NBA 2016/17 – Betting Preview

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Western Conference – Northwest Division

Oklahoma City Thunder (55-27, eliminated in Conference Finals)

The departure of Kevin Durant was gut-wrenching for the franchise, and the onus lies on Russell Westbrook to produce another season of outstanding production at both ends of the court. The addition of Victor Oladipo is exciting but the Thunder are no longer a playoff cert, and their ability to stay with the elite teams will come under heavy questioning. There’s far too many questions around this roster to label them as serious contenders, the main focus will be reaching the playoffs in an ultra-competitive conference.

Verdict: Playoffs

 

Portland Trail Blazers (44-38, eliminated in Conference Semi-Finals)

Portland were hot favourites to finish bottom of the Conference last season, but their versatile playing style and franchise player Damian Lillard propelled them to the Conference Semi-Finals, where they showed great character against Golden State. They added some solid depth to the roster in free agency and their front-office finally looks settled. Defensively, there’s plenty of work to be done as they ranked No.21 in the league last season. Shoring up the points will allow them to contend once again.

Verdict: Playoffs

 

Utah Jazz (40-42, did not make playoffs)

The Jazz have based their roster on draft work, their location just isn’t attractive for free agents. They now have a squad filled with depth & young, growing players. Their defence will be solid once again, but a four-year playoff drought will be decided by their point guard play. George Hill fills the spot of injured Dante Exum, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, who will have plenty to prove on return from his layoff with a knee injury. Utah to fall just short yet again.

Verdict: Will not make playoffs

 

Denver Nuggets (33-49, did not make playoffs)

The Nuggets have some young players ready to make a breakthrough, and will hope for leadership from their veterans. Three of their starting five are under 22, with the defensive prowess of Kenneth Faried and the scoring of Gallinari massive bonuses too. Gallinari will be a key piece to the puzzle, but must remain healthy as his 19.5ppg last season was a career high. The Nuggets will be aiming to pull themselves from the bottom echelon of the West, but another year in the draft lottery is more likely than breaking the Top 8.

Verdict: Will not make playoffs

 

Minnesota Timberwolves (29-53, did not make playoffs)

Any roster featuring back-to-back rookie of the year winners is a terrific prospect, and the Timberwolves are probably the most exciting dark horse in the league this season. The addition of Tom Thibodeau as head coach and president is another bold move, and taking PG Kris Dunn at #5 overall in the draft has heightened expectations off ending a playoff drought stretching all the way back to 2004. Improving from last season’s 29 wins shouldn’t prove overly difficult, but reaching the playoffs is a difficult task, and while this team may just fall short, it should be a positive year for the franchise.

Verdict: Will not make playoffs

 

Western Conference – Northwest Division

Golden State Warriors (73-9, lost in NBA Finals)

From the record setting regular season to losing three straight games in the finals, the Golden State Warriors were the most watched and discussed team in the league last season. That continued into the post-season following the capture of Kevin Durant in free agency, cementing the Warriors as       -125 favourites to regain the Larry O’Brien trophy. Two draining seasons compiled with Olympic duty will surely mean reduced minutes for the starters, with their regular seasons wins tally surely unbreakable now. Many key reserves have departed, and their depth will come into question as the season moves forward. Durant should fit into the system well, leaving the Warriors the team to beat once again

Verdict: NBA Champions

 

Los Angeles Clippers (53-29, lost in conference first round)

Injuries destroyed yet another playoff campaign for the Clippers, but the roster & coaching staff was maintained. Griffin, Jordan & Paul all embark on another season which should see LA cement their place as No.3 seed in the West, but there’s a sense of Déjà vu here, as the Clippers aim to visit the playoffs for a 6th straight season, they have never gone past the Conference Semi-Finals, and again they’re failing to look like a team that can bridge the gap.

Verdict: Playoffs

 

Sacramento Kings (33-49, did not make playoffs)

A new arena & new coach should not deflect from the Kings struggles, don’t expect them to feature in a playoff race. Rudy Gay & DeMarcus Cousins will be key contributors, but Gay is the centre of much trade talk and Cousins could possibly be the only starter from last season when the teams take the court next week. Sacramento didn’t tie anyone down to long-term deals in free agency, and they will play the waiting game as they look to become a bigger target for free agents in the coming seasons. Defensively they struggled last season, and there doesn’t look to be any quick solution appearing.

Verdict: Will not make playoffs

 

Phoenix Suns (23-59, did not make playoffs)

The Suns had two Top 8 draft picks, but this team has plenty of veteran experience. The Suns are building for the long-term though, and another losing season is inevitable. The resilience of Eric Bledsoe will be crucial; he’s played under 45 games in two of the last three seasons. The Suns should stretch the floor and create more opportunities, but this team has too much mediocrity to be in the running for a playoff spot.

Verdict: Will not make playoffs

 

Los Angeles Lakers (17-65, did not make playoffs)

The Lakers are poised to take a great deal of pain in the forthcoming season, but they have many reasons to be positive. Randle, Russell & Clarkson are all gaining experience, with No.2 pick Brandon Ingram a hot prospect. The departure of Kobe Bryant should allow more exposure & freedom for these players to shoot more ball. The additions of Deng & Mozgov are interesting, though Mozgov will have plenty to prove having signed a $64 million deal. Luke Walton is a coach with a bright future, and while it’ll be a tough learning curve, the Lakers must focus on the long-term.

Verdict: Will not make playoffs

 

Southwest Division

San Antonio Spurs (67-15, eliminated in Conference Semi-Finals)

Tim Duncan’s retirement leaves the Spurs without their permanent fixture of the last 19 years. The core remains though, with Leonard & Aldridge key parts to a team of veterans. The Spurs are no doubt the Number One challenger to Golden State in the West, but the number one seeding will matter little, Greg Popovich is the master of reducing player’s minutes and keeping them fresh for post-season action. The Spurs had their highest regular season win total last season, but that doesn’t mean anything if they bow out before a Conference Final again.

Verdict: Conference Semi-Finalists

 

Dallas Mavericks (67-15, eliminated in Conference Semi-Finals)

The Mavericks were happy to pick up the Warriors scraps, with Barnes & Bogut both joining in free agency. Stamina will be called into question again this season, with point guards, Deron Williams & JJ Barea 33 & 32 years old respectively. The Mavericks have won one title in franchise history (2011), but have failed to break through the first round of the playoffs since. Little to get excited about, with Dallas certain to scrap for a bottom seed in the East yet again.

Verdict: Playoffs

 

 Memphis Grizzlies (42-40, eliminated in playoff first round)

Health will be more important to the Grizzlies than anything this season. Decimated with injuries last season, they played brilliantly to even reach the playoffs. Chandler Parsons signed in free agency, with Mike Conley receiving a huge payday, gaining some deserved spotlight having gone under the radar for years in a point guard rich Western Conference. New coach Fizdale wants to play a much more up tempo style, and the Grizzlies starters should benefit. This is a side which has talent & consistency in each position, they’ll be aiming for a Top 4 seeding in the East

Verdict: Playoffs

 

Houston Rockets (41-41, lost in playoff first round)

The Rockets won’t be sorry to part company with Dwight Howard. They refresh with a new head coach and pin their hopes on James Harden. There were many rifts in the Houston camp last year, and the priority will be to regain composure and reach the playoffs. Defence has been the bane of Houston’s roster, with head coach Mike D’Antoni not famed for his skills on that side of the ball either. Harden must deliver on his statement that he’s the league’s best player, otherwise it’s going to be a difficult season for the Rockets

Verdict: Playoffs

 

New Orleans Pelicans (30-52, did not make playoffs)

Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong in New Orleans last season. The franchise looks to re-invigorate itself under the leadership of Anthony Davis. Buddy Hield should be a solid shooting prospect, but Anthony Davis has yet to play 70+ games in four seasons, and despite his vast talent, longevity is a worry. The pressure is on coach Alvin Gentry too, and this Pelicans team has it all to do if they want a playoff berth.

Verdict: Will not make playoffs

Outright Picks

  • Atlantic Division: Boston Celtics (2.00 William Hill)
  • Northwest Division: Oklahoma City Thunder (4.00 Unibet)
  • Southeast Division: Atlanta Hawks (3.00 Unibet)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves – Under 41.5 Wins (1.90 Unibet)
  • Eastern Conference Winner: Cleveland Cavaliers (1.66 Betfair

If you liked this preview you may like our Eastern Conference preview

 

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