The Los Angeles Lakers trading for Dwight Howard obviously had a massive impact on the NBA as a whole, but how will it specifically affect the Western Conference?
We already know that oddsmakers still have LeBron James and his Miami Heat as the league's best squad and odds-on favorites to win the 2012-13 championship – who do they have atop the West, though?
As of right now, everyone seems to agree that the combination of Howard and Steve Nash catapults L.A. above the Oklahoma City Thunder. Yesterday, we pointed out that Bovada had the Lakers with better odds to win a title than OKC; today My Sports Book listed Kobe Bryant and Co. as favorites to win their conference, too.
While some (read: we) worry that the combination of Howard missing time and the Lakers' inevitable lack of early continuity may end up costing them down the road, apparently we’re alone in that regard.
Here is how My Sports Book has the West turning out:
Los Angeles Lakers +120
Oklahoma City Thunder +225
San Antonio Spurs +600
Los Angeles Clippers +1500
Memphis Grizzlies +1500
Dallas Mavericks +2000
Denver Nuggets +2000
Minnesota T-Wolves +5000
New Orleans Hornets +5000
Phoenix Suns +5000
Sacramento Kings +5000
Golden State Warriors +5000
Portland Blazers +5000
Utah Jazz +5000
Houston Rockets +5000
The impact of the Howard trade is obvious. Had this breakdown been put together pre-deal, even with Nash, there was a very reasonable case to be made that the Lakers weren’t better than either the Thunder or the San Antonio Spurs. Now they’re above both on essentially every odds list you’ll come across.
What’s interesting and somewhat surprising, however, is how low the Nuggets are here. Denver quite clearly improved itself in the Howard deal and yet, for whatever reason, they’re supposedly on equal footing with the Dallas. Now, it’s worth noting – Mark Cuban improved his squad this summer as well. But not moreso than Nuggets brass.
The Minnesota Timberwolves also appear to be a little low on the list, but presumably they are where they are because nobody knows how Ricky Rubio will look (health-wise) until he actually steps onto the court.