NBA

Updated NBA Divisional Odds: Hedging Bets in the West

After rattling off eight wins in a row, are the Rockets the best bet to with the Southwest Division?

After another week of NBA action, the Western Conference standings are looking more like fans might've expected, especially with the Rockets on an eight-game win streak. Golden State reigns supreme at the top of the standings, and FanDuel Sportsbook no longer offers future odds on the Pacific Division.

The other two divisions still have odds posted, and it’s time to look back on the best bets from the West. Last week, we revisited the best East divisional bets and decided whether there was value in doubling down, hedging, or standing pat. There are two divisions left: the Northwest, where it’s still relatively wide open with the likes of Denver, Oklahoma City, and Portland competing for the top spot, and the Southwest, where Houston has a substantial lead over San Antonio.

Southwest Division

Team FanDuel Odds numberFire Projected Wins
Houston Rockets -850 50.0
San Antonio Spurs +600 46.4


Previous Pick: Memphis Grizzlies (+750) and Dallas Mavericks (+1000)

Neither of these picks aged well; Memphis traded away their franchise player in Marc Gasol to Toronto earlier this year and Dallas reverted back to the bottom feeder they were last season. Chris Paul has returned to the ranks of the league’s elite point guards -- he is currently 22nd in real plus-minus (RPM) per ESPN. Only ahead of Paul on the Rockets is James Harden, who is second in the NBA in both RPM and our nERD score.

The Rockets struggled with shooting to start the season, but they’ve bounced back in a big way with an effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of 53.7%, third in the league. Harden averages 36.3 points per game with 14.9 points coming from pull-up shooting, according to NBA.com.

The addition of Kenneth Faried and Clint Capela’s return from injury have contributed in better rebounding on offense, which was an area where the Rockets struggled last season. Houston now ranks second behind the dominant Warriors in offensive efficiency and look to be Golden State’s biggest competitor in the West.

San Antonio is the only other team with odds posted; the Spurs are 3.5 games out of first place. At current odds, the Spurs might be worth a flyer. They seen a lot of change at the guard position, but Bryn Forbes and Derrick White have shored up the backcourt by limiting turnovers and shooting efficiently.

The Spurs’ anchor, LaMarcus Aldridge, has continued to play like an All-Star, and he and DeMar DeRozan could lead San Antonio to a late season push. According to Tankathon, the Spurs have the third easiest remaining schedule. They’re probably not going to pass the red-hot Rockets in the standings, but San Antonio won’t go down without a fight.

Northwest Division

TeamFanDuel OddsnumberFire Projected Wins
Denver Nuggets-42052.0
Oklahoma City Thunder+70049.0
Portland Trail Blazers+85048.7
Utah Jazz+240047.5


Previous Pick: Denver Nuggets (+195)

Bettors who backed the Nuggets are sitting pretty as Denver is up 3.5 games on both Oklahoma City and Portland with about 16 games left in the regular season. Our model projects Denver to finish three games ahead of the Thunder, even though they have a relatively tough schedule with games against Golden State and Houston remaining.

Denver is another Western Conference team that has relied upon an efficient offense for success with an emphasis on second chance points, where they rank second in the league behind Minnesota. Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap, and Mason Plumlee each average at least two offensive boards per game and have kept possessions alive all year. Denver has also managed to limit turnovers on offense, ranking seventh in turnover percentage per Basketball Reference, further extending their chances on offense.

Jokic has been outstanding for Denver this season -- he ranks sixth in nERD score and has been a fringe MVP candidate. His playmaking skills as a big man are unrivaled in the NBA and he’s the most significant part of Denver’s rise in the West this year.

Currently, there’s no value in doubling down on the Nuggets, so bettors should stand pat and ride out the wager on Jokic and company. The Thunder are the most dangerous competitor to Denver’s first place spot, but they have a brutal remaining schedule with games against Milwaukee, Golden State, and Denver, and two games against Toronto.

The Nuggets probably won’t beat the best teams in the conference to get to the Finals, but they’ve had an excellent regular season and are in the best position to finish the Northwest Division on top.