You know how sometimes we’ll all collectively look at the moves teams have made during the offseason and think of them as favorites, or at least close to it? Well, it seems that three of the prevailing favorites in the NBA this upcoming season reside in the same division: the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns.
All three of them have made a Western Conference Finals within the last two seasons, with the Warriors winning a championship and the Suns falling in the 2021 NBA Finals to the Milwaukee Bucks. That string of recent success for the franchises has cast them in favorable light for pundits and oddsmakers alike.
According to our friends over at DraftKings, the Clippers and Warriors — both at +600 odds — lead the Western Conference contenders to win the title while the Suns, sitting at +650, come up third. But that’s not where the Pacific Division’s fortune ends.
The Los Angeles Lakers, who have been rumored to be the front-runners for Kyrie Irving, are presently at +1100 to win the title which puts them fourth among teams in the conference. And can you really count out a team that is able to add Irving to LeBron James and Anthony Davis? Probably not.
In fact, if you were to look at it from just a conference perspective, the Suns (+330), Clippers (+350), Warriors (+350) and Lakers (+600) are far and away the favorites just to win the Western Conference. The next closest teams — Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies; all +900 — are further from fourth in the odds than fourth (Lakers) is from first (Suns).
The Lakers’ odds possibly take into consideration that they could still land Irving, but even then you’ll be likely to see some upwards movement from them if they do land the mercurial point guard.
If you take a more micro view of the situation and look at only division odds, the Suns lead the way at +135 to win the Pacific Division. It’s likely that a potential acquisition of Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant is taken into account here, but the Suns also did just win 64 games last season and made the Finals the year prior, so it’s not that crazy to think they could do this again.
From there, the Warriors are at +200 and the Clippers are +270. Those are the three that have somewhat separated themselves from the pack whenever you look at Western Conference teams in all phases of odds. The Lakers come in a ways back at +650 for the division. Meanwhile, the Sacramento Kings bring up the rear with +50000 odds. In essence, if you bet $100 on the Kings to win the Pacific Division and they somehow do, you’d make $50,000.
While the Kings have made several good moves this offseason — signing Malik Monk, trading for Kevin Huerter, and drafting Keegan Murray No. 4 overall — it’s not likely that they’ll execute one of the biggest upsets in sports history and win the Pacific Division. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be a tough team to play. After all, they’ve injected more talent and that inherently makes them a larger obstacle than they previously were.
There’s a very real chance that at least three teams in the Pacific Division finish with at least 50 wins this upcoming season. The last time that happened in the NBA was in 2018-19 when the Denver Nuggets (54), Portland Trail Blazers (53) and Utah Jazz (50) did it for the Northwest Division.
Add in what the Lakers could potentially do so and there is a possibility that four teams finish with at least 50 wins in the same division, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 2014-15 when the Southwest Division had the Houston Rockets (56), Memphis Grizzlies (55), San Antonio Spurs (55) and Dallas Mavericks (50) all do it.
This upcoming season is shaping up to be a battle of the highest order in the NBA’s Pacific Division, and any of the top four teams in it could realistically stake a claim should things fall in their favor over the next few weeks of the offseason.
For the Clippers, this is probably their best chance at securing the top seed in the Western Conference and making a run towards the franchise’s first-ever Finals appearance and — if things go really well — their first-ever NBA championship. The odds do certainly appear in their favor.