By: Denery Noone, Scott Brock-Wilson, and Justin Lynch
The conclusion of our over/under picks.
Portland Trail Blazers: 26.5
Denery:UNDER: The only player on this team is Damien Lillard. They lost four out of their 5 starters from last year, and that leaves nobody but Lillard to score. It is going to be a tough year in Portland.
Scott: UNDER: They only have Lillard and a mix of good role players. That is not enough to even be decent in the West. All they can hope for this year is improvement from their young players
Lynch: UNDER: Some nice young players and Lillard is a stud offensively, but I’m not sure how everyone works together. A team with that big of an overhaul seems bound for nothing more than hopes for the future.
Oklahoma City Thunder: 57.5
Denery:OVER: If this team stays healthy, there are not many teams in the league that will be able to stop them. They have so much talent and scoring it is going to be extremely hard to beat them. The one question is going to be how Billy Donovan transitions from the College game to the pro’s, because that and injuries are basically the only things that could hold them back.
Scott: UNDER: This is a tough one. The Thunder are a top team in the West, but what if it takes Durant a little while to get back to himself? Donovan may need some adjustment time, but either way I see them hovering around 57 wins. They could go either way.
Lynch: OVER: The top-5 teams (record-wise) in the West last year won 67, 56, 56, 55, 55. I see all those numbers congregating around 60, with the next six or seven teams in the conference battling for seeds 6-8 with considerably worse records. The Thunder are in that five, and with Durant back it’s tough to bet against them. Of course, rim protection and ball distribution are concerns, especially with so many mouths to feed and a new coach, but I bet it works out.
Utah Jazz: 40.5
Denery: OVER: Even with the loss of Dante Exum, they still have a lot of young talent that is continuing to emerge. Rudy Gobert is one of the best rim protectors in the league, Favors and Gordon Hayward and improving every year, and they should be able to compete in the West this year.
Scott: OVER: Even with the loss of Exum, the Jazz have too much talent, especially in the frontcourt. If they are to grab the 8th seed in the West, which I think they will, they will be over .500.
Lynch: OVER: Sixth best record post all star break. Favors, Gobert, and Hayward are a nice three. Burks is back, but Burke is in. Backcourt defense is a major concern, but I like them to get to .500.
Denver Nuggets: 26.5
Denery:UNDER: They do not have enough talent to compete in the Western Conference. Mudiay is going to have a lot of growing pains in his first few years, and although Nurkic, Faried, and Gallinari are good options, there is too much talent in the West for them to compete.
Scott: UNDER: This team is full of a bunch of role players. Mudiay may turn into a star, but it certainly won't be this year.
Lynch: UNDER: Mudiay was one of my favorites in the draft, but he will take some time. Danilo is back, and Nurkic, Faried, and Chandler round out a surprisingly good starting five. However, I just can’t pick the over, and I don’t think this team wants the over, either.
Minnesota Timberwolves: 25.5
Denery:OVER: Although they have a lot of young players, they do have the last two number one overall picks in Wiggins and Towns, and they will have a lot of fun playing together this year. Those two are going to put up crazy numbers for many years to come, and I think that even in their first year, they will be able to do enough to get over the 25 win mark.
Scott: UNDER: As much as I love this team. I cannot see them having this big of an improvement. Towns will take a little bit of time, and Wiggins is still early in the developing stage.
Lynch: UNDER: Lots of fun, young players, but is getting Shabazz Muhammad back and adding Towns an 11 win improvement? Even with a better Wiggins, I have to lean towards the under.