The Western Conference of the NBA looks to be wide open with several legitimate contenders that have emerged during the first half of the NBA season. Among the many things that have been discovered is that the old formula for assessing a champion from the West may be thrown out as the dynamics have been flipped completely.
The days of the Los Angeles Lakers being the presumptive favorite are over as they are several different contenders that have emerged that offer better NBA betting value as well as better teams.
The Lakers cross town rival Los Angeles Clippers, for example, had a 16-8 start to the season and led the Lakers in the Pacific Division. Blake Griffin has emerged as the savior of the franchise as he had a team best 21.2 points per game to go with his team best 11 rebounds per outing. Chris Paul proved to be a valuable acquisition as he had a team best 8.8 assists per game as the floor quarterback.
The Lakers are crying out for leadership as retired coach Phil Jackson looks even better away from the game than he did patrolling the bench. Mike Brown simply cannot begin to fulfill the huge coaching void left by Jackson and when you add to the fact that the Lakers skill players have seen their abilities to dominate erode you have the recipe for mediocrity. The one thing that the Lakers do have is Kobe Bryant and his team high 29.4 points per game. Brown, to his credit, also has the Lakers playing defense as they ranked 4th overall in the NBA.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have far and away been the best team in the West with a record of 21-6 as Kevin Durant’s team best 27 points per game sparked the offense that ranked 3rd overall in the NBA. The big concern is defense as the Thunder ranked just 21st for team defense and that is not a number that will wear well come playoff time.
The defending world champion Dallas Mavericks seem to be in hangover mode as they were languishing around with a record of 16-11 and ranked just 16th overall in team offense. Dirk Nowitzki has admitted to his poor and lethargic play while averaging just 18.3 points per game, which was still a team high. Dallas was trailing “old reliable” San Antonio in the Southwest Division race.