LA or LA? LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard? With the NBA on the cusp of returning to action in Orlando, oddsmakers at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas released an update of their Western Conference championship odds. Both Los Angeles-based teams, the Lakers and the Clippers, are the top favorites to win the West title.
The Lakers are the outright favorite at 7/5 odds (or +140) for LeBron to secure his first trip to the NBA Finals with LA. The Clippers aren’t far behind at 8/5 odds (or +160) to snatch the Western Conference crown.
Thirteen teams in the west qualified for the NBA restart, with a three-way bubble fight for the #8 seed between the Memphis Grizzlies (currently in #8), Portland Trail Blazers, and New Orleans Pelicans.
2020 WESTERN CONFERENCE ODDS
Los Angeles Lakers 7/5
Los Angeles Clippers 8/5
Houston Rockets 10/1
Denver Nuggets 12/1
Dallas Mavericks 20/1
Utah Jazz 30/1
Oklahoma City Thunder 30/1
New Orleans Pelicans 30/1
Portland Trail Blazers 40/1
Memphis Grizzlies 500/1
San Antonio Spurs 1000/1
Sacramento Kings 1000/1
Phoenix Suns 2500/1
For NBA championship futures, the Westgate posted the Milwaukee Bucks and Lakers as co-favorites at 5/2 odds to win the 2020 NBA title. The Clippers are right behind at 3/1 odds to win the NBA championship.
In the Eastern Conference, the Greek Freak and the Bucks are the team to beat as an overwhelming favorite at 1/2 odds.
LA or LA?
Flip a coin. LeBron/AD vs. Kawhi/PG13.
NBA suits and their famished corporate sponsors will go into complete meltdown mode if both the Lakers and Clippers are upset in the opening rounds of the NBA playoffs.
The entire hoops world (OG included) has been hyping up a potential showdown between the Lakers and Bucks since the season tipped off in late October 2019. If the Clippers end up in the NBA Finals against the Bucks, that’s cool too. Kawhi seeking back-to-back titles would end up a great storyline.
Let’s be frank here; the NBA should have just scrubbed the 22-team restart and simply brought back just the Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks. The Lakers and Clippers would slug it out in a best-of-nine series before the west winner and Bucks met in the best-of-13 game NBA Finals.
Betas: Rockets or Nugs?
The Houston Rockets made two bold roster moves after another disappointing playoff run in 2019. In the offseason, they traded Chris Paul to Oklahoma City Thunder for Russell Westbrook. Then, they shipped out Clint Capela midseason to the Atlanta Hawks. The Rockets ditched their big man in favor of a small-ball version of the D’Antoni run-and-gun style and its endless barrage of 3-pointers.
Will the dynamic duo of Harden and Westbrook blow up in the postseason? There’s only one ball on a team with two Alphas. The Rockets seem overpriced at 10/1 odds to win the west.
The Denver Nuggets were a worthy sleeper pick all season as a possible third team in the west that could upend the Lakers/Clippers. Things were looking up for the Nuggets, especially with a svelte Nikola Jokic (someone stopped eating American-sized portions) ready to play the role of spoiler.
Jokic tested positive for coronavirus in Serbia last week. He should be ready to fly to America next week to rejoin the Nuggets. At least the Nugggets’ best player and head coach already contracted coronavirus, so they won’t have to worry about losing either of them during the postseason.
The Nuggets at 20/1 are a worthy flier, if they can get hot. Then again, with games hosted in Orlando, the Nugs lose their home-court advantage with opposing teams avoiding the thin air of Denver.
The Dallas Mavericks (20/1), Utah Jazz (30/1), and Oklahoma City Thunder (30/1) are mere cannon fodder in the restart. Fans would love to see Luka Doncic light it up in the postseason, but the Mavs don’t have enough firepower to keep up with the big dogs in LA.
Long Shots: Dame, Ja, or Zion
The three-way race for the #8 seed should make the restart exciting from the get-go. The Memphis Grizzlies are in the #8 spot, but are 500/1 odds to win the west.
The Portland Trail Blazers are a dangerous bubble team. The Blazers took advantage of the extended layoff, which allowed their banged-up squad to recuperate. Plus, you really don’t want to have to face Damian Lillard in the postseason. Even when Dame has an off night, you still have CJ McCollum to stop. The Blazers are 40/1 odds to win the west because, if they can sneak in the backdoor as the #8 seed, they have enough scoring and experience to upset the top-seeded Lakers in the opening round.
TV execs want the New Orleans Pelicans to lock up the #8 seed because it will be good for business. The NBA essentially tweaked the playoffs in provide rookie Zion Williamson and the Pelicans a shot at the postseason. If the Pelicans advance to the playoffs as the #8 seed, they’ll face the Lakers in the opening round. The LeBron vs Zion matchup sells itself.
The Pelicans are 30/1 odds to win the Western Conference. Oddsmakers at Westgate moved the line from 40/1, which reflected a significant amount of public money backing Zion.
The Phoenix Suns will have to pull off a miracle and win all eight restart games in hopes of forcing a play-in game. But even with Kendall Jenner (Devin Booker’s new ladyfriend) as a good luck charm, the Suns are the longest shot on the board at 2500/1.