Western Conference Season Preview: Over/Under Win Totals


Welcome back to Swarm and Sting’s NBA Over/Under Win Total Preview. Today we will check out the Western Conference. The teams are listed in ascending order based on their win total, rather than alphabetical. You can find our Eastern Conference preview here.

We hope you enjoy, and if you like what you see, please leave a comment. If you think our opinions of your team are awful, let us know that too. Let’s get started!

Minnesota Timberwolves – 25.5 wins

Adam: Under, but barely. Yes, they lost Kevin Love, but there is some talent left on this team. Are they in full-blown rebuilding mode? With veterans like Thaddeus Young, Kevin Martin and Ricky Rubio, the Wolves could be quasi-competitive even in the stacked Western Conference. Plus, this Wiggins kid may turn out to be pretty good.

Andrew: Under. They may be fun, but the Wolves will likely be bad. I cannot wait to see how Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and Zach LaVine develop and grow together as basketball players, but there will be growing pains. Can Rubio make Minneapolis Lob City 2.0?

X Factor: Gorgui Dieng posted an impressive 16.5 PER during his rookie season last year. Dieng is a big, bruising man with impressive defensive tendencies. He won’t make anyone forget about Love, but he could help usher in a new T-Wolves era sooner than later.

Sep 29, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward (20) during Media Day at Zions Bank Basketball Center. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Jazz – 25.5 wins

Adam: Over. I get that the West is really good, but shouldn’t the Jazz be at least one win better than last season? I say yes. I have no idea what Quin Snyder will do as a coach, but he has some young talent in Salt Lake City. If the Jazz go under, it might be time to hit the reset button again.

Andrew: Under. This will not be a good season in Salt Lake City. Derrick Favors is a solid power forward and Trey Burke had a decent rookie season compared to the rest of his ghastly rookie class. He was inefficient, but I’m grading on a curve.

X Factor: Enes Kanter was a highly regarded draft pick though the beginning of his career has garnered mixed reviews. He and Favors need to learn to play well together or they will contend for the worst record in the league. The likely top pick in 2015 is Duke big man Jahlil Okafor, so Kanter may be playing to keep his job.

Sacramento Kings – 30.5 wins

Adam: Under. I don’t understand the Kings. Why draft Nic Stauskas one year after Ben McLemore? Why let Isaiah Thomas leave? The Kings won 28 games last season, and I’m not convinced they got better. Maybe if Boogie takes a leap forward again. Maybe.

Andrew: Under. As much as I love DeMarcus Cousins and the new and improved Rudy Gay, this team doesn’t boast much else.

X Factor: Gay. When he works in the post and avoids taking bad shots he becomes a really good player. If he reverts back to Toronto Rudy, who jacked shots with no remorse, then the Kings will suffer for it.

Mar 22, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) and point guard Steve Nash (10) in the second half of the game against the Washington Wizards at the Staples Center. Wizards won 103-100. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers – 31.5 wins

Adam: Over. I know, I know. Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash are old, and the rest of the team is a bunch of castoffs. But if Kobe has anything left in the tank, and I suspect he does, the Lakers will not be bottom-feeders in the West.

Andrew: Under. Kobe fans have taken to twitter to defend their idol, but I just cannot see this team winning a significant amount of games no matter how Kobe plays. They have some decent players, but Jeremy Lin, Jordan Hill, and Nick Young do not scream “winner” in the loaded West. I do have a spot in my heart for Nick Young’s insane, if untamed, talent and cannot wait to see what highlight reel moments he unveils this season.

X Factor: Point guard defense. Steve Nash is an awful defender, and while Lin is better, he’s won’t be on the All-Defense team anytime soon. The Lakers play a lot of games in the 120s this season.

Denver Nuggets – 40.5 wins

Adam: Over. I am a Ty Lawson fan. Lawson was great last season, averaging nearly 18 points and 9 assists a game. With his old running mate Arron Afflalo back in town, I believe the Nuggets are poised to take a step forward. A healthy and productive year from JaVale McGee will help.

Andrew: Over. I really like the composition of this roster, and I’m not sure what happened that made last year such a disaster. Did losing Andre Iguodala really hurt that much? Now, Afflalo is back and Danillo Gallonari should return from injury. They help the floor spacing and bring some potent 3-point shooting back to the Mile High City.

X Factor: Kenneth Faried. The Manimal just got a fat new contract (four years, $50 million) to correspond with his outstanding play during the FIBA World Cup. If he brings his summer game to the Nuggets, they may be able to sneak into the playoffs.

Sep 29, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward/center Anthony Davis (23) poses for photos during the Pelicans media day at the New Orleans Pelicans practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Pelicans – 41.5 wins

Adam: Under. Anthony Davis is an otherworldly NBA talent, and having Ryan Anderson back at full health creates a formidable front court. I’m not sold on the rest of the roster, plus the Pelicans have to play four games each against the Spurs, Mavs, Grizz and Rockets.

Andrew: Over. I’m buying stock in the Pellies! This may be ill-advised, but it feels like Anthony Davis is about to assert himself as the NBA’s next superstar. Jrue Holiday is a solid point guard. A healthy Eric Gordon, and the return of Ryan Anderson should provide him some help as well. I like this team to finish right around 45 wins, but sadly out of the playoffs.

X Factor: Tyreke Evans. He had his moments adjusting from being a lead guard with the Kings to playing more on the wing in New Orleans. If that adjustment remains successful and he stays healthy, New Orleans will benefit tremendously.

Phoenix Suns – 42.5 wins

Adam: Over. This Suns team confuses me. Their backcourt talent is terrifying with Dragic, Bledsoe and Thomas. But are their big men good enough? I’m not sure why they let Channing Frye leave, and the West is full of dominant big men. I think they go over, but miss the playoffs again.

Andrew: Over. This is the year the Suns get back into the playoffs. Jeff Hornacek burst onto the scene last season with his up-tempo guard-heavy attack. Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe are back and make up an explosive point guard back court. Isaiah Thomas joins them as a spark plug off the bench and the Morris twins recently signed extensions. Phoenix also drafted T.J. Warren from NC State to provide some scoring punch off the bench.

X Factor: Bledsoe. Throughout his career he has shown his immense talent in flashes, but he never stays healthy. If he can put together 75 games of elite play, the Suns will be deadly. Dragic cannot do it alone.

Memphis Grizzlies – 48.5 wins

Adam: Over. This is one of two lines in the West that really puzzled me. The Grizzlies won 50 games last season despite injury issues. Sure, Zach Randolph is getting older, but this team play smart, stingy defense – a sure recipe for success.

Andrew: Over. Last season they won 50 games even after losing Marc Gasol for several games. Assuming they stay healthy, a full season of Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, and Marc Gasol means grit and grind is back.

X Factor:  Mike Conley. He is one of the most underrated players in the league thanks to the ridiculous amount of talented point guard the NBA has to offer. The Grizzlies will go as Conley goes this year. If can make a leap in performance they could make the conference finals for the second time in three years.

Sep 29, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum (88) poses during media day at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers – 48.5 wins

Adam: Over. We all know about Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, but it is Nic Batum who makes me confident in the over. Batum was one of four players, joining Lance Stephenson, to average 13 points, 4.5 assists and 7 rebounds last season. His all-around play and durability (started all 82 games last season) make Batum a quiet star in this league.

Andrew: Over. Damian Lillard is an emerging star, and LaMarcus Aldridge already is a star. Wesley Matthews is a severely underrated two guard and Nic Batum is always solid. They ran into a San Antonio buzz saw in the playoffs to end their brilliant season, so hopefully they can avoid them this year.

X Factor: Bench play. The Trail Blazers starting five plus Mo Williams played an overwhelming percentage of minutes last season and their lack of depth showed during their playoff loss to the Spurs.

Dallas Mavericks – 49.5 wins

Adam: Over. I love the addition of Chandler Parsons. First, he adds another dimension of shooting to a squad anchored by Dirk and Monta Ellis. Next, he weakened the rival Houston Rockets. I believe Mark Cuban’s gamble will pay off and the Mavs get a top five seed in the West.

Andrew: Under. I have them just barely under at 49 wins. Dirk’s career may be winding down, but he still has his fastball (wait wrong sport). Reports suggest he has been working on quickening his release which would make him borderline unguardable. Monta Ellis revived his career last year becoming a nice partner-in-crime with Dirk. Out of the toxic environment with the Knicks, I also expect Tyson Chandler to renew his confidence.

X Factor: Tyson Chandler. If he can get his groove back he provides rim protection they have lacked recently. Also Raymond Felton remembering what it’s like to be a competent point guard would help things. Still love you, Ray!

Oct 7, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons (25) shoots against the Houston Rockets at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets – 49.5 wins

Adam: Under. I’m going under here for the same reason I took the over with Dallas – Chandler Parsons. Sure, James Harden is a fantastic offensive player, and may even improve defensively this season (shouldn’t be hard). But, the Rockets lack the depth and toughness needed to be an elite team in the West this season.

Andrew: Under. I still think the Rockets are a playoff team, but losing Chandler Parsons will hurt. Signing Trevor Ariza helps on paper but I find it unlikely he can repeat the year he had with the Wizards. Dwight Howard will do Dwight Howard things, but he is a far cry from the athletic specimen he was in Orlando.

X Factor:  Trevor Ariza was brought in to fill the void left by Parsons. Ariza shot over 40% from three last season, and proved he can play the role as third banana on a great team with the Wiz last season. If Ariza is able to step his game up another notch, and play some perimeter defense, the Rockets should be favored to get out of the first round of the playoffs.

Golden State Warriors50.5 wins

Adam: Under. The Warriors won 51 games last year, so this under is more a hedge on the teams around them getting better than the Warriors necessarily getting worse. I am already preparing for the backlash for betting against Steph Curry.

Andrew: Over. Steve Kerr might be the luckiest man in basketball (well after David Blatt). He walks into a locker room filled with talented basketball players who are hungry to redeem themselves after a disappointing end to the 2014 season. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson make up arguably the best backcourt in the league and Andre Iguadola provides solid wing defense when he’s healthy. David Lee plays defense like a wooden chair with a broken leg, but he can still score and rebound.

X Factor: Andrew Bogut. Can he finally stay healthy? A healthy Bogut anchors the defense and gives the Warriors a nasty edge they need to compete with the big boys in the West.

Apr 12, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) goes up for a dunk against the Sacramento Kings during the fourth quarter at Staples Center. The Los Angeles Clippers won 117-101. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Clippers – 55.5 wins

Adam: Over. Will Chris Paul go down as the best player to never win a championship? Well, he will certainly be in the running if the Clippers can’t leapfrog the West’s elite soon. With LeBron moving to a new team, now is as good as ever for the Paul and the Clippers to steal a ring. I sense they think their time may be now also. Give me the over all day.

Andrew: Over. The Clippers won 57 games last year with Chris Paul missing extended time. During Paul’s absence, Blake Griffin emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate (if Bron and KD did not exist). Sprinkle in a dash of perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jamal Crawford and you still have one of the most potent offenses in the West. They also have DeAndre Jordan down low to protect the rim. He may have been a bit overrated by fans last season, but he is still greatly improving under Doc Rivers and could be a force this season.  Will this be the year they sneak into the conference finals?

X Factor: J.J. Redick. The former Duke Blue Devil dealt with injury issues last year and it hampered the floor spacing. Adding him back into the rotation gives them another three-point threat and a more well-rounded team.

San Antonio Spurs – 56.5 wins

Adam: Over. All day, every day. Last year we saw the Spurs limit the playing time of their stars, give generous amounts of days off, and win 62 games. The Spurs are a little older, but return virtually the same team as last season.

Andrew: Over. Every year we say the Spurs are old and every year then prove us wrong. They will coast through the regular season giving rest to Manu, Duncan, and Parker while Kawhi Leonard continues his ascent up the NBA hierarchy. Somehow they will end up with 60 wins and they will at least make the Western Conference Finals. The Spurs are well oiled Gregg Popovich ran machine and they are tough to disable.

X Factor: How do you isolate one factor of the best team in basketball? If there is a weakness, it’s that Patty Mills will be out until after Christmas and we know that Pop will try to keep Parker from playing major minutes.

Oklahoma City Thunder – 57.5 wins

Adam: Under. OKC is a really good team, and their win totals of the past two seasons would eclipse this line. Betting against Durant and Westbrook is usually not wise, but I’m curious about their depth. They were able to survive injuries to Westbrook last season because of the emergence of Reggie Jackson. It would only take Durant to miss two weeks to put this line in question.

Andrew: Over. They have Kevin Durant. They have Russell Westbrook. They have Serge Ibaka. Those three are very good at basketball. Good basketball players generally lead to many victories. They also have Reggie Jackson who came into his own as a combo guard that can play with Westbrook or lead the second unit.  Oh, and Kevin Durant will be locked in a battle with LeBron James for the MVP award. The NBA is fun!

X Factor: Coaching. This isn’t an X factor for the regular season so much as the playoffs. For this year to be the Thunder’s year, Scotty Brooks will have to be on his “A” game in the playoffs to go the distance.