NBA Western Conference Betting Preview: Lakers, Warriors Back Atop Pile

LeBron James and Steph Curry will have their teams back in the mix

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Despite not taking home the Larry O’Brien Trophy last season, the Western Conference looks to bounce back and reclaim the NBA championship, featuring high-powered offenses that will likely provide challenges to opponents across the league.

Top 10 FanDuel Sportsbook Championship Futures Odds

Los Angeles Lakers +195
Golden State Warriors +550
Los Angeles Clippers +550
Utah Jazz +650
Phoenix Suns +850
Denver Nuggets +1000
Dallas Mavericks +1600
Portland Trailblazers +3000
New Orleans Pelicans +36000
Memphis Grizzlies + 4900

Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook. Sign up for FanDuel Sportsbook today and get your first bet risk-free for up to $1,000.

Los Angeles Lakers
Current Odds +195

After a seventh-seed playoff run in the 2020-21 season, the new-look Lakers seem to be built with a “championship or bust” mentality and are currently the favorite to win the Western Conference. The Lakers are designed around a core of NBA superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, with new arrivals in Russell Westbrook at point guard, Wayne Ellington at shooting guard, and Talen Horton-Tucker rounding out the starting rotation. Extremely deep on the bench, the Lakers have brought in Kendrick Nunn, Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan, and Dwight Howard, who should all see minutes as spot starters and in supporting roles.

Last season, posting a 42-30 record, the Lakers saw significant injuries to both James and Davis, who missed time toward the end of the season. Davis, who missed more than two months due to a calf injury, played 36 games averaging 32 minutes, 22 points, eight rebounds, and three assists per game. However, from Feb. 15 through April 21, the Lakers posted a 14-16 record.

At times, it appeared the Lakers had a difficult time producing on the court, ranking 22nd in points per game, averaging 109.5 points and playing at 98.7 possession per game pace. With the addition of Westbrook at point guard, James and Davis should see a slight downtick in usage, with the duo combining for a 60% usage rate.

According to Tankathon, the Lakers should have an easier slate, ranking 30th in strength of schedule, with multiple meetings against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, and Minnesota Timberwolves. Projected to win 52.5 wins on FanDuel Sportsbook, the Lakers should remain firmly in the conversation as one of the top teams in the West.

Golden State Warriors
Current Odds +550

Despite a few years of dismantling and injury, the Golden State Warriors have emerged with the second-best odds to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. Posting a 39-33 record during the 2020-21 season, the Warriors made a final push for the playoffs, losing to the Lakers in the play-in game.

Steph Curry should continue to lead the Warriors offense after seeing a team-leading 34.8% usage rate and leading the league in scoring, averaging 32 points per game last year. Curry also remains deadly beyond the arc, leading the league in 3-point field goals.

The bulk of the rotation should remain the same, except for the departure of Kelly Oubre Jr. Jordan Poole should take over at shooting guard until the return of Klay Thompson, who is expected to miss the start of the season as he continues to rehab his ACL injury. Thompson is not the only Warrior with question marks surrounding injury, as James Wiseman recovers from a meniscus injury in his knee.

Last year, the Warriors ranked 12th in scoring, averaging 113.7 points per game, playing at the third-fastest pace in the league at 102.2 possessions per game. Projected to win 47.5 games this year, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Warriors have a demanding schedule, with several meetings against stacked Western Conference opponents in the Phoenix Suns, Lakers, and Utah Jazz. However, Golden State should find reprieve in facing weaker Eastern conference opponents in the Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons.

Utah Jazz
Current Odds +650

Last season, the Jazz had the best record in the NBA, posting a 52-20 record but were eventually upset by the Los Angeles Clippers in the conference semifinals. With a rotation largely intact, the Jazz should see consistent production coming from a starting rotation of Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale and Rudy Gobert. Mitchell should continue to lead the Jazz as the primary distributor, seeing a 33% usage rate in 53 games, averaging 33 minutes, 26 points, four rebounds, and five assists per game.

Expect role players such as Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles, Eric Paschall and Rudy Gay to see minutes off the bench and slot into the starting lineup due to injury. One of the more consistent teams in the league, the Jazz ranked fourth in scoring last season, averaging 116.4 points per game, and were one of the top teams defensively, allowing the third-fewest points to opponents at 107.2 points per game.

Tankanthon ranks the Jazz schedule as the 22nd most difficult, with what looks like a more manageable slate featuring several meetings with the Rockets, Thunder and Timberwolves. Projected for 53.5 wins, the Jazz should again be one of the top teams in the league and a leading contender to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.

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