Three Reasons The Denver Nuggets Are The Best Bet To Win The West
By laying them +1200 odds to win the West, bookmakers have given the Denver Nuggets a little less than an 8% likelihood of topping the Western Conference come season’s end, an eyebrow-raising number considering how well they performed last year. Of course, the West has become a terrifyingly-strong conference over the past couple of months, but the Nuggets are no slouches themselves and in my opinion present some of the highest betting-value in the West. Here’s why:
1. We’re talking about conference wins, not championships, two very different things. The Nuggets are a young team that needs every rep they can get, which is why they practice very little load-management, starting Jokic 80 games last year, with Jamal starting ‘only’ 75 after missing 6 games with an ankle injury. For reference, Curry started 69 games, Kawhi started 60, and only Brook Lopez and Willie Caulie Stein started more games at Center than the Joker. With the exception of the Rockets (who I suspect will be out for blood this season), I really can’t picture a team in the West being more willing to sacrifice their bodies in order to earn the #1 seed.
2. The Nuggets got better. Not Kawhi and Paul George better, but definitely better. They lost no one of significant value (sorry Trey Lyles), gained a hugely underrated player in the Thunder’s Jerami Grant that shores up their front-court depth, which was one of their primary weaknesses last season, and will finally be unveiling one of the most anticipated young players in the league in Michael Porter jr, whose outside shooting could go a long way to help a Denver team that at times struggled to find reliable shooting. And while it’s no Harden and Westbrook, the pairing of Grant and Porter jr alongside Jamal Murray and future hall-of-fame Nikola Jokic builds a solid core for the still incredibly young Denver Nuggets that puts them in a great spot to chase the Western Conference title both this season and for years to come.
3. Not only do the Nuggets have one of the premiere coaches in the league, but they also hold one of the biggest home-court advantages in the league. After finishing 33-49 in Malone’s first season, the Nuggets improved to 40-42 in his second, 46-36 in the third, and 54-28 this past season when Denver earned the 4th best record in the league behind only the Warriors, Bucks, and Raptors. And while it’s never just one thing in the NBA, the influence Malone and his coaching staff have had on the young Nuggets should not be understated, something that will continue to be a huge factor as Denver brings along young prospects MPJ, Jarred Vanderbilt, and the newly-drafter Bol Bol.
Meanwhile, Denver also held the West’s best home record, going 39-10 playing in Colorado while putting up a whopping 9.8 margin of victory, good for 2nd in the league behind only Milwaukee. And while the Nuggets’ 22-25 road record leaves a little to be desired, it puts them only 2 games out of 4th place in the entire league; assuming any rate of improvement whatsoever, Denver could very well be a top 3 team both at home and on the road, making them a legitimate threat to take down the West and most definitely giving us more than 8% betting value.
~ Yaniv Son