Denver Nuggets (48 Wins)
On paper, the Nuggets look like an improved, or at least on par team with where they were a season ago. They will (hopefully) get full seasons from Aaron Gordon, Will Barton and Monte Morris this season and have the reining MVP on their roster.
However, the big wildcard here is Jamal Murray. He suffered a torn ACL back in April, so it’s almost assured that he will miss most, if not all of the regular season. Even with the guys that were traded for or injured last year playing full seasons, the Nuggets might still struggle to get to 49 or 50 wins in the West without Murray for the whole year.
They are much better positioned to win without Murray than they were last April after he went down, but all it will take is one more injury to Michael Porter or Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets will be fighting for their playoff lives. Some regression could be in store too, so the under is the value here.
NBA Pick: UNDER 48 Wins (-115) at BetOnline
Los Angeles Clippers (44.5 Wins)
I think the sportsbooks are forgetting what the Clippers did without Kawhi Leonard last year in the playoffs with this line. Leonard may not come back at all this season, but even without him, the band is back together.
Serge Ibaka will hopefully be healthier this season, they brought back Reggie Jackson, Nic Batum and Marcus Morris, plus they have ample depth on the wing with guys like Luke Kennard and Terance Mann to make up for Leonard not playing.
The icing on the cake was acquiring Eric Bledsoe, a huge offensive helper for them while Leonard is down. I will be surprised if the Clippers don’t have at least 45 wins this season, even in the West. Even without Leonard, they can go 10 guys deep on any night.
NBA Pick: OVER 44.5 (-115) at BetOnline
Portland Trail Blazers (43.5 Wins)
If you think about the Blazers getting to 42 wins last season with all the setbacks they had with injuries, it’s almost insulting to them this season to put them at 43 wins. They should get a full season of Jusuf Nurkic and Norman Powell, two very important starters for this team. They just added Larry Nance, which is a huge get for them down low and along with Nance, they have a lot more defenders this season than they’ve had in years, which should lead to their team defense being at least average.
Add in one of the best backcourts in the NBA and, like the Clippers, I’ll be surprised if the Blazers don’t get to 45 wins.
NBA Pick: OVER 43.5 (-115) at BetOnline
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