2011-2012 NBA Western Conference Odds and Predictions – Favorites, Contenders and Sleepers to Win the Western Conference: At the start of last season, the Los Angeles Lakers were hoping to three-peat as NBA champs. When the playoffs began, it appeared the San Antonio Spurs were ready to make another title run. In the end, it was the Dallas Mavericks, shedding their reputation as playoff choke artists and winning the NBA title. The Western Conference is without question the deeper of the two conferences, and the team that eventually emerges will likely be the frontrunner for the championship.

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2011-2012 NBA Western Conference Favorites

Considering they are the defending NBA champs, it only seems fair to make the Dallas Mavericks one of the frontrunners in the Western Conference. The team still has scoring machine Dirk Nowitzki, along with fellow veterans Jason Kidd and Jason Terry. Owner Mark Cuban will likely have his eye on next season’s free agent class, but he will still make sure and get enough firepower to let his team contend for another title. Not to mention the fact that the Mavericks will be tough to stop as long as Nowitzki plays like he did in last year’s playoffs.

Despite getting swept out of last year’s playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t ready to rebuild just yet. For starters, they still have Kobe Bryant, who is the best closer in the NBA. They also have Pau Gasol manning the middle. Losing Phil Jackson as coach will hurt, but the Lakers’ front office is reportedly in the mix to land Dwight Howard or Chris Paul with a package that includes the oft-injured Andrew Bynum. With their current roster, the Lakers are dangerous. If they make a deal for another superstar, the Lakers become the frontrunners in the conference once again.

2011-2012 NBA Western Conference Contenders

No team in the NBA has a younger group of stars than the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kevin Durant has won back-to-back scoring titles and should be in the mix for MVP honors this year. Point guard Russell Westbrook is one of the best all-around players at the position, and forward Serge Ibaka led the NBA in blocks last season. It is only a matter of time before the Thunder puts it all together and takes down the top dogs, and after two straight strong showings in the playoffs, it could happen sooner rather than later. If James Harden lives up to his draft position and emerges as a legitimate scoring option, it could push Oklahoma City over the hump.

An early playoff exit masked the fact that the San Antonio Spurs won more games than any other team in the Western Conference last season. The shorter schedule means fewer games for the veteran team, but it also means less time off in between games. Tim Duncan may be on his last leg, but guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili still have some good years ahead of them. San Antonio probably needs to get a little more athletic to win the Western Conference, but as one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the NBA, the Spurs always have a puncher’s chance.

2011-2012 NBA Western Conference Sleepers

After playing the role of Cinderella in last year’s playoffs, the Memphis Grizzlies will look to take the next step this season. Memphis is loaded with young talent that appears to be maturing at the right time. Forward Zach Randolph is establishing himself as a star, and point guard Mike Conley had the best season of his career. Rudy Gay will back from injury as well, and the young Grizzlies should have plenty of confidence after their success last season. Youth, athleticism and confidence is a dangerous combination for the rest of the conference.

Despite being dealt injury after injury, the Portland Trailblazers managed to make the playoffs last season. While guard Brandon Roy may never be fully healthy again, the silver lining is that forward LaMarcus Aldridge established himself as a team leader and legitimate star. More importantly, newcomers Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton will get a full season with the team, and they should provide a nice blend of toughness and speed. The Trailblazers were a tough out last season, and they should be even tougher to beat this year.

2011-2012 NBA Odds to win The Western Conference
1721 Dallas Mavericks +425
1722 Denver Nuggets +3625
1723 Golden State Warriors +11050
1724 Houston Rockets +5075
1725 Los Angeles Clippers +3225
1726 Los Angeles Lakers +195
1727 Memphis Grizzlies +1075
1728 Minnesota Timberwolves +10200
1729 New Orleans Hornets +6825
1730 Oklahoma City Thunder +255
1731 Phoenix Suns +4925
1732 Portland Trailblazers +2050
1733 Sacramento Kings +11050
1734 San Antonio Spurs +1675
1735 Utah Jazz +6025

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