a crowded arena watches a LA Clippers basktball game at the Crypto.com Arena. 2023-24 NBA Western Conference: Predictions & Betting Odds a crowded arena watches a LA Clippers basktball game at the Crypto.com Arena. 2023-24 NBA Western Conference: Predictions & Betting Odds
Marius Christensen, unsplash
Key Takeaways
  • The upcoming NBA season promises thrilling action and betting opportunities.
  • Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns are the top contenders in the Western Conference.
  • Western Conference favorites and potential playoff teams are analyzed.
  • Expect strong competition in the Western Conference with several contenders.
  • Playoff predictions and betting picks for a competitive season.

The 2023-24 NBA season is almost here, and we’re eagerly awaiting the amazing display of skills across all the teams in the league. Of course, there are going to be dozens, if not hundreds, of great basketball betting opportunities in the first month!

The Western Conference is as stacked as ever, with powerful teams looking to dethrone the Denver Nuggets after their amazing 16-4 playoff run last time out.

The Nuggets will return most of their core, including the best player alive, Nikola Jokic, and they are considered the main favorites to get out of the West for a reason.

Who will be their main rivals, and which teams will complete the playoff bracket? Stay tuned as we bring our final predictions and favorite betting picks from US sportsbooks.

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Denver and Phoenix in a Two-Horse Race

With all due respect to other superstars in the conference, everything points towards a two-horse (Jokic would give us a like here) race between the reigning champions Denver Nuggets and the super-team Suns.

Denver won their franchise’s first Larry O’Brien NBA Championship last year. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray perfectly complement each other, and the supporting cast provides serious depth. Bruce Brown did leave for the Indiana Pacers, and his absence will be felt during the season, but these Nuggets should still get one of the top two seeds without too many problems. We won’t back them for the top seed because we prefer the value offered by a different team.

Yes, we are talking about the Phoenix Suns. They’ve gone out of the playoffs in six games at the hands of the Nuggets last time out, despite the Kevin Durant and Devin Booker heroics. We are about to see completely different Suns who have added myriad bodies to address the lack of depth as their main weakness. They now have three superstars in the likes of Booker, Durant, and Bradley Beal, while Josh Okogie and Jusuf Nurkic complete a very strong starting five. When you add the likes of Yuta Watanabe, Keita Bates-Diop, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little, Keon Johnson, Chimize Metu, and Drew Eubanks to the mix, you get a pretty deep roster capable of carrying the team throughout the whole season.

While most sportsbooks have the Nuggets and the Suns very close to each other in terms of the odds, BetMGM Sportsbook is very generous, pricing Phoenix to get the No. 1 seed in the West at the super attractive +350 odds.

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Legitimate Playoff Contenders

On top of the two main conference favorites, four more teams should not miss out on the playoffs under any circumstance. We will share our thoughts on each outfit’s chances.

The Golden State Warriors acquired Chris Paul, who should represent a big upgrade on Jordan Poole. Age might represent an issue in a long season, but we can’t ignore the sheer amount of quality on their roster with the ever-present stalwarts such as Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.

Next up are perennial potential contenders, the Los Angeles Clippers. They possess enough quality to go all the way if their main stars stay healthy, but that’s the biggest if in whole basketball. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George look as healthy as ever ahead of the new season, and the Clippers still have one of the deepest rosters in the league. We’d not even be surprised to see them clinching the third seed.

While we’re at perennial contenders based in California, we have to talk about the Los Angeles Lakers. As much as people don’t rate their chances because of age, the Lakers still have a decent squad around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell are already established stars, while Rui Hachimura, Gabe Vincent, and Jarred Vanderbilt will all provide decent backup options. We don’t like the odds for any Lakers’ futures, though.

We’ll round up this list with the Sacramento Kings, who well exceeded their preseason ambitions last year under Coach of the Year Mike Brown (in his very first year at the Kings’ helm). Sacramento secured the postseason action for the first time in 16 years before falling to the reigning champions Warriors in a spectacular seven-game series. They have all the key pieces to success back in the roster, and we can easily see them among the top six sides in the West. Whether they can do anything more is up for debate. We don’t think so, mainly because of the defensive liabilities (the 25th-worst defense in the league last year).

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Play-in Candidates

The mere fact that the likes of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Ja Morant, Luka Doncic, Zion Williamson, and Anthony Edwards will battle for the play-in spot confirms how strong the Western Conference is this season. Out of all their teams, we like Oklahoma and Dallas to complete the top eight, while the Grizzlies should be favored over Minnesota and New Orleans despite Dillon Brooks’ departure.

This group of teams (or should we say one in particular) also brings our favorite betting picks. Oklahoma City Thunder has one of the youngest rosters in the league, and many believe it is still too early for their big breakthrough, but we don’t share such an opinion. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a legit MVP dark horse candidate, especially after taking his national team to a bronze medal at this year’s FIBA World Cup with phenomenal displays. Josh Giddey is projected to be among the NBA’s top assisters, while rookie Chet Holmgren is firing on all cylinders in the preseason after missing out the entirety of the last year through injury.

We would be very surprised to see the Thunder failing to secure the postseason action with such a strong roster, hence the following pick at DraftKings.

Thunder To Make the Playoffs:

  • Shai Gilgeous Alexander to average 30+ points per game
  • Oklahoma City Thunder to make the playoffs

*Total Odds: +125 with DraftKings

Shai exploded last year by averaging 31.4 points per game, and we can only expect him to at least repeat these numbers in the upcoming season.

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Exact Forecast for Northwest Division:

The Utah Jazz and the Portland Trail Blazers are nowhere near the playoff conversations, and they’ll almost certainly take the bottom two spots in the Northwest Division. The Denver Nuggets are the main favorites to win the whole conference, and we can hardly see them failing to dominate in the division. This leaves us to the battle for the 2nd place in the division between the Thunder and the Timberwolves.

Minnesota did get second place in the division with a two-win advantage over the Thunder. However, we are big fans of Oklahoma City Thunder’s young roster with star-studded players like Shai, Giddey, Dort, and Holmgren. European NBA stars Davis Bertans and Vasilije Micic should also represent fantastic additions, and we have to try with the +175 odds for this exact forecast.

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