The Western Conference has long been the deeper, stronger conference in the NBA, and it’s heavily favored to produce the 2020 NBA champion.
The current title futures have five Western Conference teams in the top seven, including the two LA teams at the very top. The Clippers and Lakers are +300 co-favorites, with Houston (+750), Utah (+1400), and Denver (+1400) also in the top seven.
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When it comes to which Western power is going to reach the finals, however, the odds favor LAC (+200) over LAL (+230).
The Rockets (+450) sit third, the Nuggets (+800) fourth, and Jazz (+1000) fifth.
Here’s the full list as of November 13.
Trail Blazers: +3300
As expected, the Lakers (7-2) and Clippers (7-3) sit at/near the top of the conference after three weeks of action. But how they’ve gotten there is a bit of a surprise. The Lakers currently own the best defensive rating in the entire league (98.1). Kawhi Leonard’s Clippers aren’t even in the top ten (103.7).
LAC, however, is eighth offensively (108.9), while LeBron James and Anthony Davis have the Lakers at a lowly 19th (105.5).
The Lakers’ offensive struggles are largely due to a lack of depth. Davis and LeBron are averaging 26.6 and 24.6 PPG, respectively, while LeBron is dishing out a team-high 11.2 APG and Davis is grabbing a team-high 10.2 RPG. No other player on the team is averaging more than Avery Bradley’s 10.3 PPG.
Davis and LeBron also dwarf their teammates in Player Efficiency Rating. They are at 28.16 and 27.70, respectively, with aging Dwight Howard next at 19.04.
It’s become painfully apparent that, if this team is going to stay at the top of the West over the course of a grueling 82-game season, they will need to either get more out of the rest of the roster, or boost itwith mid-season acquisitions.
It’s the latter possibility which has led to an abundance of tweets like these in the last few days.
Lakers should sign Carmelo
— ken (@blavkken98) November 11, 2019
For his part, Carmelo Anthony is certainly hoping for a return to the NBA. When asked if he would like to play this season, he told me: “2,000 percent. Make that the headline.”
— 👑📍Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson, M.A. (@ScoopB) November 8, 2019
But unfortunately for the grumbling Laker twitter-sphere, there is nothing more than their sourness linking Melo to the Staples Center.