Following along with the 2017 NBA offseason was like watching a teenager on a sugar-high play GM-mode in a basketball video game. Hardly a week went by without a star player changing jerseys. Arguably the biggest moves came from the Houston Rockets, who added Chris Paul in exchange for basically every role-player from last year, and the OKC Thunder, who added Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Ultimately, though, the moves from those Western Conference hopefuls conjure that old deck-chairs-on-the-Titanic adage: both teams are now better equipped to make a deep playoff run, but they’re still going to run into the iceberg that is the Golden State Warriors. Looking at the title odds from My Top Sportsbooks, barring injuries, the Warriors are better than even money to get back to the NBA Finals.(This article on their site also has tips for if you’re simply tired of betting on the Warriors.) If Anthony can resemble the team-player who donned the USA jersey at the Olympics, the Thunder should be the second-best team in the West and give Golden State a test. But that’s a huge if for the 33-year-old who’s been languishing in the Big Apple, and the Thunder’s new 2018 title odds (12/1) are too short, given that they’re still massive underdogs to come out of the West and would still (likely) have to beat LeBron in the finals.
#3. Denver Nuggets
O/U: 45.5 wins
2016/2017 record: 40-42
Offseason addition: Paul Millsap
Vegas really likes the Nuggets this year. After Nikola Jokic broke out to near-superstar status last year and led the Nuggets to the best offense in the NBA (after Dec. 15), the Nuggets got even better.
They signed Paul Millsap to a team-friendly deal and with the expected development of all their young guys, this team is expected to make a 5.5 game improvement. If I were a betting man, I’d strongly consider taking the over on the Nuggets, even with their questions defensively and positionally.
#2. Houston Rockets
O/U: 55.5 wins
2016/2017 record: 55-27
Offseason addition: Chris Paul
This seems low. The Rockets had a historically good offense last year, just added the Point God, and became more versatile defensively. James Harden and Chris Paul probably won’t play together much, but when they do, they are easily the best backcourt in the NBA and could batter teams like no other team.
Personality clashes could be a problem for the Rockets, and depth could haunt them in the playoffs, but in the regular season, 55.5 wins seems low.
#1. Oklahoma City Thunder
O/U: 51.5 wins
2016/2017 record: 47-35
Offseason addition: Paul George
The Thunder are going to be awesome. Coming off a historic MVP season, Russ finally has reinforcements in the way of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. The Thunder can easily compete with any team in the league.
Last year they were a top defensive team, something that should continue with the addition of Paul George, and offensively they should get even better with 2 more creators. Ego could be a problem for this team later in the year, but expect them to blow by the 51.5 win benchmark.