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NBA Southwest Division Predictions + Season Preview

2010-2011 NBA Southwest Division Predictions + Season Futures

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With regular season NBA odds just around the corner, it’s time to start handicapping the division races. The Southwest Division boasts two legitimate contenders—Dallas and San Antonio—who may be watching their windows of opportunity close.

Dallas Mavericks

Last season: 55-27, first in the Southwest
BetED.com odds
NBA championship odds: +1900
Regular season wins: Over 49.5 (-115), under 49.5 (-115)
Player additions: C Tyson Chandler, F Tim Thomas,
Player losses: C Erick Dampier, F Eduardo Najera

Dallas was awfully quiet in the offseason, but the biggest addition is getting a full season out of Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood. They arrived from Washington late in the season and played just 27 and 28 games, respectively, for Dallas. Butler in particularly was important, as he added a much-needed extra scoring threat to take pressure of Dirk Nowitzki.

Speaking of which, Nowitzki is back—as is Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Shawn Marion. This is largely the same core that has been around for a few seasons. With few changes in the offseason, Dallas is in line for the usual during the Nowitzki era; 50 wins or so and a disappointment exit from the playoffs.

San Antonio Spurs

Last season: 50-32, second in the Southwest
BetED.com odds
NBA championship odds: +1500
Regular season wins: Over 49.5 (-130), under 49.5 (+100)
Player additions: C Tiago Splitter, G James Anderson
Player losses: G Roger Mason Jr., G Keith Bogans, C Ian Mahinmi

San Antonio cut back Tim Duncan’s minutes last year, hoping to keep him healthy. The plan was mostly effective, as Duncan suited up for 78 games. It wrecked havoc on Gregg Poppovich’s rotation at times, however, which cost the Spurs a few games. San Antonio is hoping the addition of Splitter—a 2007 lottery pick—will help pick up the slack when Duncan is resting.

The Big Three of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili remains intact, but a few new faces have emerged over the last season or so. Richard Jefferson played a nice complimentary role in his first season as a Spur (12.3 points per game) while George Hill wound up stealing tons of minutes from Parker toward the end of last year and the playoffs.

The Spurs are old. Whether or not they have one last title run in them depends on Duncan’s play. If he can stay healthy and continue to play at a relatively high level, the Spurs are as good as just about anybody once the playoffs begin.

New Orleans Hornets

Last season: 37-45, fifth in the Southwest
BetEd.com odds
NBA championship odds: +5000
Regular season wins: Over 41.5 (-130), under 41.5 (+100)
Player additions: F Trevor Ariza, G Marco Belinelli, G Jannero Pargo,
Player losses: F Morris Peterson, G Darren Collison, F James Posey

The Hornets won 105 games, made the postseason twice, and won a playoff series in 2007-08 and 2008-09. Then it all fell apart. The team was largely overhauled, though a few key familiar faces remain in place.

The biggest, of course, is Chris Paul. As long as he stays healthy, the Hornets have a chance to bounce back. He’ll be joined by David West, whose play noticeably declined last season and was certainly a big reason for the team’s regression. If he can bounce back, so can the Hornets. New Orleans also added two new starters in Ariza and Belinelli. Ariza should be an especially nice boost.

New Orleans isn’t that far removed from some very good basketball, and it still has one of the best young point guards in the NBA. With Dallas and San Antonio growing long in the tooth, it won’t be at all surprise if the Hornets make up some ground and sneak back into the playoffs.

Houston Rockets

Last season: 42-40, third in the Pacific
BetED.com odds
NBA championship odds: +4000
Regular season wins: Over 48.5 (-115), under 48.5 (-115)
Player additions: C Brad Miller, G Kyle Lowry
Player losses: C David Anderson, G/F Trevor Ariza

The biggest upgrade in Houston this season could very well be Yao Ming. Yao hasn’t been seen February 2008, but he’s been working with the team and has supposedly made excellent progress. Still, there’s no time table for his return and the big man has never stayed healthy; how long he’ll last once he does return is questionable, though he’ll be limited to 24 minutes a night.

With Yao gone, Luis Scola got a chance to shine. The fourth-year power forward gained momentum through the season, and in March he averaged 20.6 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. There’s no reason to expect him to cool down now.

Still, the Rockets simply don’t have the talent to compete in the West. They’ll need a dramatic drop off from a team or two above them to sneak into the playoffs.

Memphis Grizzlies

Last season: 40-42, fourth in the Southwest
BetEd.com odds
NBA championship odds: +7500
Regular season wins: Over 38.5 (-115), under 38.5 (-115)
Player additions: G Xavier Henry, G Tony Allen
Player losses: G Ronnie Brewer

Any season in which the Grizzlies escape the cellar should probably be considered a success. Don’t count on it again in 2010-11, though. Henry is a rookie from Kansas who should find his way into the rotation.

In the dream scenario, most of Memphis’ crowded backcourt will play well so the Grizzles can flip a body or two for help up front. Henry, Allen, O.J. Mayo, Mike Conley and Acie Law will all be fighting for minutes until that happens. Either way, it looks like another downer for Memphis.

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About Ian Van Den Hurk

Ian Van Den Hurk has covered amateur and pro sports for years, including a successful run handicapping anything from football to mixed martial arts. Looking for more sports betting tips and expert sports handicapping articles from Ian V? We've got your back...


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