Last week we posted our Eastern Conference Predictions so today we will make our 2017-18 NBA Western Conference Win-Loss Predictions. While the Conference had been slightly diluted due to the brewing dynasty, the overall bloodbath onlfy intensified this offseason. The Warriors are still the undoubted favorites to make it out of the West again, but teams like the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder did not run away from the sleeping giant, instead running right at it.
How it works?
We are picking the over/under on number of wins each NBA team will have this season. It’s pretty straightforward, as every year Sportsbooks everywhere place a number on how many games a team will win that season. Your job as the degenerate – errr gambler – is to decide weather that team will win more or less then that number this season. We are going to be going in reverse order from lowest projected amount of wins to highest, so put your money where your mouth is, and let’s make some picks. Over/under lines are brought to you by our friends at Bovada and the projected wins are in parentheses next to the team name.
Part II: 2017-18 NBA Western Conference Win-Loss Predictions
Sacramento Kings (27.5): DeMarcus Cousins might be gone, but I have a hard time believing that the Front Office dysfunction left with him. And while the trade of Boogie is looking better in hindsight every single day, the fact remains that Vivek Ranadive is always one nap away from firing everybody… or vetoing the Boogie Cousins trade. You think I am joking…
Anyway, this offseason has been quite the smokescreen for the Sacramento Kings front office. Why? Because they actually made a handful of smart moves! The Kings are officially dripping in prime young talent, De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein, Justin Jackson, and Harry Giles comprise a really solid core that should get better, if managed/developed correctly, for years to come. Additionally, the Kings supplanted their young core by signing three veterans to teach the young guys how to be professional. Furthermore, the old guys that they signed do not appear to be entirely washed! George Hill, Zach Randolph, and Vince Carter can all provide value if their minutes are monitored appropriately.
The roster has a nice combination of savvy veterans and young talent, and the veterans will make sure that the young-guns play right. In typical Kings fashion, due to the worst trade of the 21st century, the Kings do not have a protected first-round pick this season. With competitive veterans and no incentive to tank, this year seems to be the year where the Kings could start building toward a positive trajectory. We like them in our 2017-18 NBA Eastern Conference Win-Loss Predictions.
The in & out by De’Aron Fox…🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/xwPBlNKv2I
— Randy Cruz (@randyjcruz) October 9, 2017
Phoenix Suns (29): A perennial destination for Kentucky’s top talent every June, the Phoenix Suns are still reeling from the post-Steve Nash glory days. The roster assembled still has question marks, Eric Bledsoe looks like a potential trade candidate, Devin Booker still plays defense like he is Shrek, Marquisse Chriss might only amount to a human pogo-stick, and Dragan Bender might literally be allergic to contact.
The Suns are a team with a lot of intriguing pieces, but it appears that this is going to be the season to see where those pieces fit going forward. This team is incredibly young and they have a ton of talent, but their lack of NBA game experience is going to be a huge detriment to their success this season. Add in the fact that NBA teams have more incentive than ever to all-out tank this season and we might be looking at a tank-job starting before the new year! Two quick predictions for the 2017-18 Suns. One, Tyson Chandler will get traded. Two, they will be the “first” team to start tanking.
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) October 19, 2017
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Los Angeles Lakers (33.5): The Baby Lakers have spent all of the post-Kobe era sucking – sucking a lot (note to reader we at Spleaze consider the post-Kobe era to be the minute his Achilles snapped in half like a rubber band, RIP KOBE).
Anyway, after years of amassing young talent, sucking, acquiring more young talent, sucking, repeating, the Lakers actually look poised to be at least competitive this season! What happened? Well, for starters, they do not own a pick this summer so they have no incentive to tank. Additionally, the acquisitions of Brooke Lopez and Kentavious Rich Paul-dwell Pope (see what I did there), appear to fit seamlessly alongside the young talent they already have brewing. Furthermore, the Lakers appear to be taking advantage of all the sucking they have done by hitting on their draft picks. Julius Randle is a good starter, D’Angelo Russell did not fit, but was the centerpiece for the haul that got them Lopez and 2022 Finals MVP Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram still gives scouts boners with his untapped potential, and then there is Lavar, err, Lonzo.
Celebrated for his ability to communicate with the younger players, you bet your ass Luke Walton is going to put his team in position to win every single night. There is a ton of untapped potential that Coach Walton is going to need to exfoliate, as detailed in our 2017-18 NBA Westere Conference Win-Loss Predictions. As long as the young-guns continue to develop, and Lavar Ball does not do anything to sabotage LeBron James and whatever poss… oops.. other players he brings to Los Angeles, then this season will be considered a success.
Dallas Mavericks (35.5): Poor Dirk. Unfortunately for the longtime Mavericks great, the twilight of his career appears to be coinciding with a time that should be used for rebuilding. And while a rebuild might appear to be what is best for the Mavs, there are three impediments from such a rebuild occurring. The confluence of the madman owner, Mark Cuban, the aging franchise player, Dirk, and the madman coach, Rick Carlisle (often confused with Jim Carrey), will all contribute to the Mavs overachieving this season.
Carlisle’s teams have always had a propensity to go balls-to-the-fucking-wall and this season will not be an exception. The Starting 5 does not look horrible on paper. Dennis Smith Jr. looks like he could be the Rookie of the Year on film, and Nerlens Noel is literally playing for 81 million dollars. The Mavericks are in a precarious position – they should probably rebuild, but the two men in charge, Carlisle and Cuban, are both psychotically competitive. Additionally, while the team does not have oodles of talent, it has enough, coupled with the requisite veterans, to be competitive every single night. With Carlisle at the helm and Dirk potentially on the outs, expect this team to play its ass off on a nightly basis. Against my better judgment I am going to predict the over in our 2017-18 NBA Western Conference Win-Loss Predictions.
Memphis Grizzlies (37.5): This is a sad paragraph for me to indulge in, so let me start with that. It is sad for a number of reasons; first, it appears as if a team built around Mike Conley Jr. and Marc Gasol will not even sniff the playoffs. Wow. Read that again. A nucleus of Marc Gasol, a one-time defensive player of the year and perennial all-star, and Mike Conley Jr., another borderline perennial all-star, will not even sniff the playoffs at this time in NBA history. And while Memphis seemed to do everything right, drafting and developing their own players and retaining those players when the time for a payday came, they still did just enough wrong to fuck everything up for a while.
The fact is, Memphis is a small market team, and as we see in the NBA it is the small market teams with razor thin margins for error. No small market team can in good conscious pay Chandler Parsons $95 million, because it is a move that, when it backfires, sets your franchise back for years. The unintended consequences of the Chandler Parsons debacle was the loss of the beautiful culture that was established in Memphis – the grit and grind. After seven consecutive years of the same nucleus battling and grinding their way through the playoffs, the Grizzlies decided not to retain their two most beloved grinders. The loss of Zach Randolph and Tony Allen is going to have profound effects on this team. Gone from the locker room are two of the most important Grizzlies in the history of the franchise – owner Robert Pera has already been on record stating that both will get their number retired eventually.
And while I say this in a somber tone, it appears that maybe this was in fact the right time to reset. The Grit and Grind might have grit and grinded past its expiration date. However, now I expect them to go all in. If the front office is honest with itself, it will admit that a title cannot be won with their two max players, Conley and Gasol, leading the way. Instead I would advocate trading both of those players, clearing the future cap sheets, and resetting.
There is not much else to say about the Grizzlies. If they do not blow things up they will probably hit the over in the most depressing of ways. I am taking the under with the expectation that they will trade at least one of their stars. If they do not they are foolish. Consider this the obituary for the grit and grind.
Chandler Parsons says if the fans are gonna boo than he’ll treat every game like a road game. pic.twitter.com/F959M9ghNh
— Devin Walker (@Devin_Walker5) October 19, 2017
New Orleans Pelicans (39.5): After a depressing last paragraph in which I effectively buried the Memphis Grizzlies, I could not think of a better team to follow them up. I will cut right to the chase.. this Pelicans team is going to be fucking fun. No, the team probably is not going to be fun for the beautiful basketball that they play, but rather for the collection of severely volatile personalities they have assembled. We thought Dwayne Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo was going to be fun last season; well now we have Anthony Davis, Boogie Cousins, and Rondo, in addition to the maniacal Tony Allen, going at each other on a nightly basis.
Additionally, it is not just the personalities that are volatile, but also likely the outcomes for this season, as it feels like it could go either way. In theory if they put it all together, they could be the exact antidote to the Golden State Warriors. The Boogie/Davis hype is real, and while it probably will not work, everybody is rooting for it to work. I am rooting for it to work! However, I think that there are just too many variables in this equation for it to work.
Instead I think we are going to get 45 games of entertaining-as-hell basketball and then, maybe a trade, maybe a locker room brawl, maybe a Boogie tirade, SOMETHING LIKELY IS GOING TO GIVE.
Whatever happens, all I know is that I would not want to be the Pelicans right now. They are dangerously flirting with losing two top-15 players within the span of 36 months. They have mismanaged the talent that they put around Anthony Davis so poorly that when this last ditched effort fails they will have no where else to turn.
Like the Grizzlies, they probably should trade both of their stars at this point, since Cousins can walk in free agency this offseason and there is no clear path to title contention before Davis’ contract is up. Here are three bold predictions for the Pellies: one, this is going to be really fucking fun for as long as it lasts; two, the saddest fan in basketball at this time next year will be the Pelicans fan, and three, bet the under in our 2017-18 NBA Western Conference Win-Loss Predictions.
Utah Jazz (41): HOT TAKE: The Gordon Hayward injury just validated Mormonism as supreme religion of all religions.
Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but come on! The prodigal son of Utah, home of the Mormons, leaves Utah for greener pastures and immediately suffers the most gruesome injury since Kevin Ware’s tibia was sticking out on the court during the NCAA tournament a few years back. So yeah, remind me to never cross a Mormon again, and that if I do happen to cross a Mormon then clearly they will just pray hard enough to snap my ankle in half, so let’s avoid that.. moving on.
As far as over/under is concerned in our 2017-18 NBA Western Conference Win-Loss Predictions, this Jazz team appears to have a Hayward-related stigma. While the loss of Hayward is going to be huge, I would argue that the Jazz are one of the few teams that can weather the impact of such a monumental loss. Quin Snyder’s offense is still poetic, the defense is still straight up stingy, and the team has an attitude (now that Gordon is gone) to show the world that Hayward was not their entire team. Additionally, the Jazz have very interesting pieces looking to assume greater roles in Hayward’s absence. Rudy Gobert, already the defensive anchorman, wants to contribute more on offense. Rodney Hood showed flashes that he could be the guy last season. Ricky Rubio is literally the perfect catalyst for Snyder’s motion offense.
The Jazz may have lost their best player, but they did not lose their identity as a team. Expect another season full of 84-80 games and further development of their young nucleus. They still play basketball the right way.
Portland Trail Blazers (42.5): Here is another example of a small market team that mismanaged their team’s salary cap right into NBA purgatory. Big contracts doled out to Allen Crabbe (since traded), Evan Turner, Mo Harkless, and Meyers fucking Leonard have hindered this team’s ability to improve via free agency. And really that amounts to quite the shame – the back-court of Damien Lillard and CJ McCollum has already shown us how lethal they can be; when they both are on they can out score any team, even the Warriors. Had the Blazers gone out and sign a good player this offseason – say a Paul Millsap or Danilo Gallinari – they would be on the come up and would be close to a playoff lock.
However, their inability to do anything this offseason has left them stagnant. They are putting a whole lot of trust into Jusuf Nurkic, a player that has played 25 good and meaningful games and then spent the rest of his five-year career being injured or fat. Nurkic played at a near all-star level last season and transformed the team over the last 25 games of the season, but it would be irresponsible to conclude that this was not an anomaly. Nurkic just has so many seasons of tape worth of being a lazy sack on the basketball court, and if he is not the exact player that transformed the Trail Blazers last season this team will take a step back. If you are betting the over in our 2017-18 NBA Western Conference Win-Loss Predictions, you are betting that the 25 games of Nurkic you saw last season were real.
Los Angeles Clippers (43.5): Ok I admit it, this pick is a total fucking 2017-18 NBA Western Conference Win-Loss Predictions crapshoot. There are so many variables that go into this Clippers season that I would almost rather not try and list all of them. In short, this shit can go either way. It can work masterfully or have Doc fired 15 games into the season, with both scenarios having an equal probability at this point.
The Clippers might have lost their point god, the hall of famer who had been running the show for the past six seasons, but in turn they gained something they have never had before: Depth. The Clippers essentially parlayed JJ Redick and Chris Paul into Pat Bevereley, Sam Dekker, Lou Williams, Milos Teodosic, and Danilo Gallinari. Additionally the subtraction of their point god has opened up room for experimentation in Lob City, as it appears that the keys to the car have been handed over to… Blake? Yes, point Blake is officially becoming a thing, and with it the Clippers might literally turn this league upside down.
Having your power forward be your primary facilitator is a ballsy move, but it appears that if Doc goes down he will go down with Blake. The team still has talent, however, the onus is on Doc to make that talent fit. If it does not mesh, he will be out of a job. This season could go either way.. the Clips falter out of the gate, Ballmer panic fires Doc, Blake cannot stay on the court, and by midseason DeAndre Jordan is so disinterested in playing defense he actually scores a put-back dunk for the other team, and is subsequently traded the following day. However, in a parallel universe this Clippers team might actually work. Point Blake proves to be ingenious, the shooters sprayed all around the court hit their shots, and the absence of Paul allows for a new Clippers identity to formulate and thrive.
The Clippers have the talent to win 50 games and they also have the necessary distractions in place to lose 50. Another classic case of a team outplaying its expiration date, I actually think that the impediment to this team is their coach. Doc has got to go. With that being said here is my prediction for the 2017-18 Clippers: they start 10-15, Ballmer panic fires doc and then whomever takes the helm rights the ship for the Clippers and figures it out for them. I am betting the over if Doc is fired, and the under if he is not fired. The talent on this team is better then 43 wins, but the personalities surrounding the team might prevent them from doing so.
Denver Nuggets (45.5): One of the not-so-subtly-on-the-rise teams of the Western Conference became a favorite of mine dating all the way back to last season. Then they added Paul Milsap.
This Denver Nuggets team might not be great yet, but they are going to be really fun to watch. Nikola Jokic proved to be one of the most gifted offensive players in all of basketball last season, Gary Harris continued his evolution into a good two-way player, and Jamal Murray proved to be one the most lethal heat check guys in all of basketball.
So what is wrong with this team?
Unfortunately the Nuggets are fucking ass at the most important position in the NBA, point guard. Emmanuel Mudiay still can’t shoot and gets the ball stripped away from him like it’s a magnet attached to metal and Jameer Nelson plain and simple looks like an old, greased up bowling ball out there. Neither player is a guy you would want orchestrating your crunch time offense in a playoff game. While the Nuggies appear to be set at every position, their point guard play might be such a detriment that it keeps them out of the playoffs. This seems like a team that needs to make a trade, Mike Conley of the Grizzlies might be a perfect fit, but as long as he is not on the Nuggets I am going to lean toward the under in our 2017-18 NBA Western Conference Win-Loss Predictions.
Nikola Jokic on Russell Westbrook’s shoulder check last night : “I flopped” pic.twitter.com/ZGD0dJOQbh
— Lee Harvey (@MusikFan4Life) October 11, 2017
Minnesota Timberwolves (48.5): The Nuggets were not so subtle about being on the rise, but the Timberwolves were straight up brash about being on the rise. This Wolves team knows it has talent. Last season was going to be the year that Thibs taught the kiddies defense, and then the Wolves were fucking terrible at everything involving defense. The results saw the young and supposedly on-the-rise Wolves underwhelm last season.
However, after adding Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague and other productive veterans to an already solid nucleus, it is time to determine weather or not the Timberwolves are phony in our 2017-18 NBA Western Conference Win-Loss Predictions. This team should be really, really good. I think that the roles aligned match the team perfectly: Karl-Anthony Towns should be the franchise and Jimmy Butler has always, in my mind, been the best second banana in the league, which delegates Andrew Wiggins to what I believe his natural role is, one of the best third bananas in the league.
If the Wolves do not make the playoffs this season then something terrible happened and somebody probably deserves to get fired. For a franchise that has not made the playoffs since Kevin fucking Garnett the Timberwolves really need this rebirth to go well for them. The Wolves have 50-win talent, but no team has ever improved 10 games in record from the previous season. Last season the Wolves won 31 games, and while they definitely are, talent wise, way better than being a .500 team, an 18-game jump would be that of historical proportions. The over seems too heavy, for this season at least, but this nucleus should get there once they’ve developed chemistry and worked out the kinks.
Oklahoma City Thunder (52): Let’s give it up for Sam Presti. The man proved this offseason that he literally gives no fucks. For years OKC has been subject to ridicule for their spending, or lack thereof. Let’s call it as it is, for the team that traded James Harden to avoid a POTENTIAL luxury tax, this is a dramatic change in ideology. The Thunder showed us this offseason that when they have to, they can do whatever it takes.
Terrified of the prospective of coming away from the Kevin Durant + Russell Westbrook dynasty with nothing gave the Thunder brass reason to go balls-to-the-wall. The brass must have realized that this was their last merry-go-round if they fucked things up again. Russ signed an extension after Kevin dipped, but it was only for an additional season, and the idea of coming away from the Golden Age of Russ/Durant/Harden with nothing to show for almost certainly seemed like a death sentence back to Seattle for the Thunder brass. How would they ever recover?
Well they did not let it get to that point, instead opening up their wallets and completing two heists. To add to their reigning MVP they acquired two top-25 NBA talents, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, for literally a piece of mold on a stick (ok, Victor Oladipo), Turkish royal cigarettes (Enes Kanter), Barbie’s husband Ken (Doug McDermott), a dude whose dad is better than him at basketball (Domantas Sabonis), and fucking second-round picks. Now Russ does not need to operate as a one-man death machine in order to will his team to victory. Finally, Russ can defer.
The Thunder made two trades that had to be made, and any other year this is a team that would push for a title. Unfortunately, even with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, this team is still one player away in our 2017-18 NBA Western Conference Win-Loss Predictions. Andre Roberson still leaves them playing 4-on-5 on offense and if Melo is playing in crunch time (kind of guaranteed), then they will be playing 4-on-5 on defense too. Being one player away in my opinion goes the other way as well, as they are one Warriors injury away from getting there. Unfortunately in today’s NBA, it is going to take a perfect team to dethrone the Warriors. The Thunder took their best stab at it, and Russ knows this, which is why he signed the mega-max extension. The Thunder decided to finally go all in, but unfortunately the man that the Thunder should have gone all in for, Kevin Durant, will stand in their way.
San Antonio Spurs (54.5): There has been a ton of action on the under in 2017-18 NBA Western Conference Win-Loss Predictions and I cannot seem to fathom why. Many people are quick to point their fingers at the shiny new objects that the Thunder and Rockets brought in and quick to point out that the Spurs only really added Rudy Gay and got older in age. However, this is a Spurs team that was better than both the Rockets and the Thunder last season; they won 61 fucking games!
They still have Pop, the Belichick of basketball, and they still have Kawhi Leonard, the guy that the fucking players voted on as most likely to win MVP THIS SEASON.
The Spurs are going to be fine, nobody seems to remember that in Game 1 of the Conference Finals they were literally up 30 on the Warriors before Kawhi got tackled by Zaza Pachulia. I contended all summer that had Kawhi not gotten hurt in Game 1, it would have at least been a series.
For what seems like the eighth different time in my life that the Spurs are getting written off in 2017-18 NBA Western Conference Win-Loss Predictions, I am going to continue to go the other way. The Spurs are the Spurs, and barring any major injury this is a team that will not be six games worse than last season – Pop will not allow it. And you know the Spurs are now extra motivated to win a title just so they can reject the visit to the White House.
Houston Rockets (55.5): Let’s just call them the Warriors-light in these . In his refusal to be complacent, and on his endless chase of the Golden State Warriors, Daryl Morey refuses to cede his position in our 2017-18 NBA Western Conference Win-Loss Predictions. He will never stop chasing a championship, and my god he will be damned; if they have to score 200 points and give up 199 to get there then so fucking be it. In an era dominated by the three-point shot, Morey has adapted his roster to the game beautifully. In a time when you will have to outshoot Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson four out of seven times to win a championship, Morey compiled a roster of shooters that he firmly believes can outshoot any team in an arms race for three-pointers.
The philosophy is pretty simple, and honestly there is no better coach to preach scoring more then the other team in Mike D’Antoni. Fuck defense, this Rockets team is simply going to outscore you. If one team has the chops to upset the Warriors, this is the team many, including myself, believe will do it. Their strategy to outscore their opponent is simple enough and the shooting they have around their primary playmakers is good enough, especially if the Warriors are having an average night. Unfortunately for the Rockets, the NBA is not the NFL and the playoffs are a best-of-seven series. On any given night the Rockets will be able to outscore anybody, yet the negative amount of defense they play will eventually be their downfall when facing a perfect team over a seven-game series such as the Warriors.
Golden State Warriors (67.5): They lost their first game and I am still going to take the over in our 2017-18 NBA Western Conference Win-Loss Predictions. Year 2 of Kevin Durant in their system should make them better. The pieces they added in free agency make them more wholesome on offense (if that is possible). And Steve Kerr should be on the sideline and not in the hospital for most of the season. This Warriors team is historically good, and if they win the title this year they are definitely in the conversation for the greatest team ever. This season they have no chemistry kinks to work out and they are familiar with each others game.
Unfortunately for the rest of the league, the Warriors are going to be more comfortable with each other and better because of it. Simply put this team is fucking unstoppable. The Monstars would literally need to come down from space and suck all of the talent out of the Warriors for this team to bomb. No fake Kevin Durant twitter account, Steph Curry foot fetish, or Draymond Green nut-punch is going to derail this team. They head our 2017-18 NBA Western Conference Win-Loss Predictions.
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