Vegas recently released their over under for win totals for all 30 teams in the NBA. Obviously, this amounts to their predictions for which teams make the playoffs. In the west, they have the Warriors, Rockets, Thunder, Lakers, Jazz, Nuggets, Pelicans, and Timberwolves making the playoffs. Usually Vegas does very well with their projections, but in this case, they made a few huge mistakes.
First off, they are predicting that the Spurs will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 96-97 season. Let’s first look at what the Spurs have. As long as their coach is still Greg Popovich, they will be a playoff contender. They also have their star power forward in LaMarcus Aldridge, and the usual depth that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing.
I guess Vegas really thinks Spurs lost a lot by trading Kawhi Leonard compared to last year. Let’s not forget though that Kawhi didn’t play last year. Instead of a player who didn’t play and only created issues, they now have a scorer in Derozan. They had some other small roster changes, but none of them serious enough to make the Spurs miss the playoffs.
Secondly, the Portland Trail Blazers are out of the playoffs. The Blazers were the three seed last year, and their roster is mostly the same. Therefore, Vegas is either expecting the rest of the conference to play a lot better, or for the Blazers to fall apart. Last year’s playoffs were an embarrassment for the team, but they still won 49 games during the regular season.
They lost some rotation players, namely Ed Davis, but they also added players like Seth Curry who can help the bench score. If you also consider that they can have internal development from players like Zach Collins, they can be better this year than last year.
Next, I think Vegas is way over projecting the Thunder. They have mostly the same team as last year, with a few minor acquisitions. The Thunder will definitely make the playoffs, but as long as they prioritize Russel Westbrook’s stats over their team success, they cannot be a top 3 team in the west.
I give my playoff predictions here. In summary, I believe the Blazers and Spurs will actually be the four and five seeds, respectively. I believe the Pelicans will drop out, and the Nuggets will again fall just short of the playoffs. Should these Vegas projections come to fruition, it would signal the end of a remarkable run by the Spurs.
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