NBA Draft

3 Team Race in the West

Despite not taking home the Larry O’Brien Trophy last season, the Western Conference looks to bounce back and reclaim the NBA Championship, featuring high-powered offenses that will likely provide challenges to opponents across the league.

In what may go down as one of the more exciting months in NBA history, little is unchanged in the Top 10, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Golden State Warriors +220

Phoenix Suns +320

Utah Jazz +500

Los Angeles Lakers +550

Los Angeles Clippers +1000

Denver Nuggets +1200

Dallas Mavericks +2200

Memphis Grizzlies +3000

Portland Trail Blazers +6500

Minnesota Timberwolves +8000

Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook. Sign up for FanDuel Sportsbook today and get your first bet risk-free for up to $1,000.

Golden State Warriors

Currently Odds +220

Posting a 29-8 record, the Golden State Warriors remain the favorites to represent the Western Conference in the 2022 NBA Finals. In December, the Warriors had the fourth-best record in the league finishing the month 9-4, averaging 107.2 points per game and a 5.8 Team Net Rating, the fourth highest. The offense is run through Steph Curry, who leads the league in three-pointers made with 5.1 and leads the team with a 32.7% usage rate. With COVID-19 protocols, the Warriors have rolled out a rotation featuring Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, and Gary Payton II, playing at the ninth-slowest pace in the league averaging 96.8 possessions per game. They are limiting opponents to the second-fewest points per game, averaging 101.5.

According to Tankathon, the Warriors have the 10th easiest remaining schedule, with several matchups against the Rockets, Pelicans, and Pistons.

Phoenix Suns

Current Odds +390

The reigning Western Conference champions have continued as one of the more dominant teams in the NBA, continuing their 18-game win streak into December before losing 118-96 against the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 3. Despite the broken streak, the Suns are co-leading the Western Conference with a 29-8 record, averaging 111 points per game and a 5.5 Team Net Rating, the fifth highest in the league. Devin Booker has exceeded expectations this season, leading the team in usage with a 31% usage rate, averaging 33 minutes, 24 points, five rebounds, and four assists per game, despite missing more than half of the month with a hamstring injury. Alongside Booker, veteran Chris Paul, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, and DeAndre Ayton complete the starting rotation, with Cameron Johnson, JaVale McGee, and Jalen Smith playing significant minutes off-the-bench.

Phoenix remains one of the fastest teams in the league, running a 100 possession per game pace, the fifth-highest, and prove to be a tough matchup defensively, allowing 104.9 points per game to opponents this season, which is the fifth-fewest.

The Suns should benefit from a weaker remaining schedule, with several matchups against the Magic, Thunder, Pelicans, and Rockets remaining, and should easily cruise into the postseason.

Utah Jazz

Current Odds +500

With a 28-10 record, the Utah Jazz remain in the hunt for the top position in the Western Conference and have been red-hot in December. Posting a 12-2 record this month, the Jazz have been the most productive team in the league, averaging 120.4 points per game, playing at the second-highest pace in the league, averaging 100.4 possessions per minute. They also recorded an 11.6 Team Net Rating, the second-highest only behind the Memphis Grizzlies. The offense runs through Donovan Mitchell as the primary playmaker, averaging 34 minutes, 30 points, three rebounds, and five assists per game last month and leading the team with a 32.8% usage rate. Alongside Mitchell, the Jazz often use a starting rotation of Rudy Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, and Mike Conley, with Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles, and Rudy Gay seeing significant minutes off-the-bench. Allowing 109.1 points per game, the Jazz appear to have work to do defensively but rely on higher-scoring affairs and up-tempo offense to power them toward the postseason. Gobert, who again just tested positive for COVID, remains one of the best defensive players on the planet when healthy.

Tankathon rates Utah’s remaining schedule as the eighth-most difficult, with matchups against the Suns, Warriors, Nets, Grizzlies, and Bucks all on the horizon.

All NBA game predictions and picks are courtesy of SportsGrid.

Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook. Sign up for FanDuel Sportsbook today and get your first bet risk-free for up to $1,000.

Thumbnail photo via Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

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