2010 Poll: Who Will Win the West?

Los Angeles Lakers (Vegas odds to win title: 5:2)
Unlike the East, the West has one clear favorite. Since trading for Pau Gasol, the Lakers have appeared in two straight Finals winning it all last year. Not content to let it ride, Los Angeles upgraded from Trevor Ariza to Ron Artest. This would be a gamble for most teams considering the Queensbridge native’s history, but Phil Jackson has always been able to keep individual personalities from ruining a team.

San Antonio Spurs (6:1)
In an attempt to keep up with the Lakers, the Spurs bolstered their roster in the off season. San Antonio added Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess which should give them a stronger rotation. But ultimately the Spurs will only go as far as their top 3. Last year the team suffered injuries to Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, and if they lose either of them (or Tony Parker) they’ll fall short of any title hopes.

Denver Nuggets (8:1)
The conventional wisdom is that teams that finish strong are likely to have a momentum that continues to the next season. This seems logical since many great teams go through phases of success before winning a title. However there’s little evidence to support that claim, and many teams just get lucky in a playoff series. The 2009 Denver Nuggets will probably avoid the fate of the 2007 Warriors or the 2008 Hornets, as they are likely to see the second round in 2010. However I think Vegas is way too kind to their odds, and I would bet against them to make the Western Conference Finals, nevertheless win a championship.

Last year per-minute stud Chris Andersen had a monstrous playoffs, however over the last 3 years each of the Denver bigs (Andersen, Nene, and Martin) has missed nearly the whole year due to injury. And while the other teams in the conference improved this summer Denver merely tread water, losing Kleiza and adding Ty Lawson. Unless they get another playoff boost from a great per-minute shot blocking/rebounder buried on the bench, they’re not likely going to be able to compete against the Lakers for Western supremacy.

The Field (starting at 10:1)
According to Vegas, the Trailblazers rank 6th in the West, however Portland deserves a higher ranking. They had the West’s second highest expected winning percentage last year (68.4%), which correlates well with winning percentage the year after. Portland also had the NBA’s best offense powered by their fantastic rebounding. The Blazers return with their rotation in tact plus Andre Miller. Although not the ideal fit for the team, Miller provides an upgrade over Bayless & Blake. They’re much better than their 12:1 odds would indicate.

Ahead of Portland are Dallas and Utah at 10:1. The Mavericks added Shawn Marion, Drew Gooden, and Tim Thomas. Marion’s production slipped in Miami and Toronto, and Dallas is hoping that their offensive scheme will better fit his talents. Meanwhile the Jazz matched the offer sheet for Paul Millsap, and are hoping that they can collectively stay healthy. Finally the New Orleans Hornets swapped Chandler for Emeka Okafor, which could make them relevant in the West again.

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Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

13 thoughts to “2010 Poll: Who Will Win the West?”

  1. I went with the Spurs, though as the article notes if Manu, Duncan or Parker are hurt especially come playoff time they are in trouble. I’m not a fan of Ron Ron so Lakers are out for me. Denver, I don’t see it. Dallas seems like the home for the guys that once were good, it would not be a shock if they missed out entirely. Hornets, I really like Okafor as a Big East alum but I don’t know if he is really an upgrade over Chandler.

  2. BLAZERS… their second unit may be better than the knicks starting five
    pryzbilla, blake, rudy, martell webster (could be valuable if he returns healthy), outlaw… and they still have bayless

  3. It’s hard to go against the Lakers on an outright basis. But when odds are factored in, I agree the Blazers look like a great pick.

    On the subject of predictions (and in this case lonshots)… If Washington is serious about contending this year and Jeffries overachieves marginally for a month or two, how about a straight-up trade for Mike James.

  4. I agree with Ricky-J that the Blazers are by far the best pick pick from a gambler’s perspective. I bet the Spurs, I think the Lakers will falter this year (I hope they do anyway.)

  5. Gallinari is looking a lot better tonight, don’t know who is doing the announcing with Clyde but he made a good point, Gallo is still just 21…

  6. Yeah, we could have Ty Lawson playing backup point for us rather than Toney Douglas, it hurts, and Dean Oliver chortling about having the chance to draft him doesn’t help the situation…

  7. Number of shots Dejaun Blair has missed this preseason: 8
    Number of shots Hill missed last night: 7
    Lord take me now.

    I figured out why Blair looks so good in the pre season. Before each game he enters a cheat code: ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, B, A, Start. Someone tell Hill about it.

  8. Right T.B.,
    I’m trying to relax and give Jordan a chance, but I’m starting to think even Nate’s bud T-Will would’ve been a better choice at 8 (he fills a need, is a great athlete and at least isn’t so tentative around the basket) but yeah, Lawson would’ve been nice, and how does Blair slip that far? He looks so much fitter than in college where he was breaking records, it just doesn’t make sense. Hill really does have “bust” written all over him, but like I said, I’m going to give him a chance.
    Also, the real David Lee showed up last night, nice to see. Coincidence that we play our best ball with Albatross Harrington out of the lineup? And is that for real that Hughes is 0-18 so far in pre-season? I see a lot of ass splinters in his future.

  9. Oops, I posted this on the wrong thread.

    re: last night’s game, Knicks looked slightly better but the Nets are such a poor measuring stick, especially without Harris.

    1) Darko again showed signs that he could be a decent defensive center. He also did not try to do too much offensively. I am optimistic that he will help us when a big lineup is called for.
    2) Chandler continues to improve. He still has lapses on both ends, but is opting more and more to take it strong to the basket when the opportunity is there.
    3) Lee had a very solid game. He did get rejected a couple of times when he chose to drive rather than pass, but overall he seems to be finding his groove.
    4) For what it’s worth, Landry was impressive in hitting 2 threes to hold off a late Net rally. (the Net rookie looked really good in the 4th!)
    5) Gallo had a solid first half, stroked a couple of 3’s and had a tough and-1 inside.
    6) Jeffries was very active on both ends and much more confident offensively. The disturbing pattern is that his 2 good games have both been vs. the Nets.

    1) Gallo is having lots of trouble in one-on-one situations. He just can’t seem to use the dribble to free himself up. He also seems stiff compared to his euro videos, I wonder if the back is not all the way there yet.
    2) Hill looked active but lost. He can’t seem to get to the rim at all and sometimes looks like he is just flailing away at times. Still, he does seem to have a presence out there.
    3) I dunno, but to me Duhon looks more like a backup than ever.
    4) Nate on D is exasperating. He’s either making a great steal or getting burned. Seemed a bit more under control.

  10. In checking other box scores, I noticed the following:

    Jrue Holiday had a tremendous game for Phila. He may wind up being the guy we rue not taking at #8. And then Blair at #30? Wow.

    Speights also had a very impressive line, as did Lou Williams. I had mentioned that I really like the 76ers before. They can put a very athletic team on the floor and have some depth.

    Channing Frye had 17 pts (but 1 rebound) and shot well from 3 pt range. If he can consistently hit from out there, he might have some value.

  11. ess-dog,

    I am trying to relax with Hill. But when I watch him play all I see is Shelden Williams…thats not good.

    I know its too early to use the word bust but I gotta ask, which lottery pick looks to be the least deserving of a lottery selection so far? To me Hill has to get a few first place votes.

    At least he has Lee ahead of him so we wont need much out of him. But it is better to have and not need than to need and not have.

  12. Lakers — I don’t think the Spurs have enough help on the interior for Tim Duncan. The Lakers trio of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom will allow them to control the paint … and thus win a playoff matchup against the Spurs.

    Portland are the wild card. Oden’s improvement will define how much of a contender the Blazers truly are, which is too early to say.

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