Southwest Division (Part I)
The NBA season has arrived, with games due to tip off Oct 22nd, on Tuesday. Bovada has released odds of divisional crowns for the 30 NBA teams, and we are going to handicap that aspect as well as take a quick glance at each team as it enters the 2019-20 season.
There are no over/under for season wins currently available for betting on Bovada, but we are going to predict season win totals for each team in the brief synopses of each of the six divisions in the NBA, moving here into the NBA’s Southwest, with a look at the two best in the division first (Part 1).
The Houston Rockets might have a lot to sort out, but being the most talented team in its division is not part of it. How well Russell Westbrook and James Harden can fit together, even gel–remains to be seen, but simply having two of the NBA’s top-10 offensive talents alone has to keep Houston in the realm of “True NBA Contenders.” How serious can they be taken like that? There is simply way too much guesswork. Westbrook and Harden did play together in Oklahoma City earlier in their respective careers, along with Kevin Durant, but arguably, all three were different players at that juncture: Harden even comfortably assumed a sixth man role.
Now, with two ball-dominant superstars, never mind one that is accustomed to averaging a triple-double, can it still work? Can it work even better? It is all yet to be seen, all still to develop.
Outside of that duo, Houston roster is almost a little strange: The 6’5” Eric Gordon slides to become the starting 3-man, and PJ Tucker mans the 4-spot, also undersized. The bench features Tyson Chandler and lockdown defender Thabo Sefolosha, but now much ether player and how they fit with the starters is a matter in the air. Clint Capela is the headliner of an undersized frontcourt that might struggle to match up with a lot of teams. How much can the backcourt offset that? Fully? Houston has a lot of things to figure out for a team that is still in the realm of contention, but that tends to happen when a team acquires a new superstar (Westbrook) while bidding adieu to a highly-influential one (Chris Paul), as well.
San Antonio (+400)
The San Antonio Spurs are not overwhelmingly good on paper, but if we have learned nothing yet, it is that head coach Gregg Popovich can proverbially get blood from oranges. The backcourt has two promising up-and-comers with Dejounte Murray and Derrick White, while Lonnie Walker IV has plenty of promise coming off a stunted rookie season, in his own right. Those three talents could all breakout, and that would complement the expected production of veterans DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge quite well.
It would certainly float the Spurs above .500, but is there any way the team could challenge Houston in the division? It would require both San Antonio overachieving and the Rockets having something of a meltdown, simply. The Spurs can comfortably pencil itself into the playoffs on the shoulders of Coach Pop and two proven perennial All-Stars, but how good San Antonio can be beyond that hinges on the development of the three aforementioned talents. All have plenty of the proverbial “upside,” but, all are entirely unproven. The odds are Pop finds a way to make one or more of those three a star, even so.