John Hollinger’s Western Conference playoff odds

Yesterday, we took a look at John Hollinger’s Eastern Conference playoff odds. Today we’ll look at the Western Conference.

1. LA Lakers (100)
2. Phoenix (96.5)
3. Portland (96.3)
4. Denver (93.8)
5. Utah (88.6)
6. New Orleans (81.1)
7. Dallas (80.6)
8. Houston (78.1)
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9. Golden State (34.4)
10. Memphis (20.3)
11. San Antonio (19.9)
12. Sacramento (7.7)
13. Minnesota (2.6)
14. L.A. Clippers (0.1)
15. Oklahoma City (0.0)

He looks like he has the West pegged save for one big problem. I don’t see how the Mavericks – who are 5-7 at full strength – will make the playoffs but the Spurs – who are 5-6 and missing two of their three best players – will not. Hollinger’s formula is probably heavily mathematical, so he can’t account for injuries, and that’s part of the problem with taking a pure statistical approach to something like this. Tony Parker is due back in mid-December, while Ginobili is ahead of schedule and should be back a bit earlier. The Spurs are getting good play from George Hill and Roger Mason, and if they can stay near .500, they shouldn’t have a problem making the playoffs if Parker and Ginobili come back strong.

As for the Mavericks, barring a major injury to one of the other eight teams (including the Spurs), I don’t see how they make the postseason. Denver’s 8-4 record seems a little odd, but they are getting good play from Chauncey Billups, who has changed the team’s attitude defensively.

Even without Monta Ellis, Golden State has surprisingly kept its head above water, and if the Warriors can stay close to .500 until January (when Ellis is set to return), they would be a dark horse to make the playoffs.

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Al Harrington wants out of Golden State

Al Harrington doesn’t get along with Don Nelson and wants to be traded.

The Warriors forward confirmed late Tuesday that he and his agent, Dan Fegan, met earlier with vice president Chris Mullin to reiterate Harrington’s unhappiness with coach Don Nelson and his desire to be moved.

“If you ask me if I want to be traded, I’ve been wanting to be traded since the end of last season,” Harrington said. “With everything that happened in the summer and coming into training camp, I was hoping things were going to work out between me and Nellie, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

“It is what it is. That’s being all the way honest. That’s putting it out there. Do I think that Al might have to be traded? Do I think it’s going to work with me and Nellie? I don’t think so. That’s how I feel.”

Harrington had never made it a secret that he felt underutilized and often out of position in Nelson’s system, but the forward/center had always done what was asked, and, until now, kept his major grievances in-house.

Harrington was irked by Nelson’s decision to play him only 17 minutes in a preseason game that Nellie said he would coach as if it were a regular season game.

With only one more year (not including this season) remaining on his contract at the tune of $10 million, he shouldn’t be too hard to move. He averaged 13.6 points and 5.7 rebounds last season for the Warriors, down from 17.0 points and 6.4 rebounds the season before. His minutes were trimmed, which is the reason for the drop off.

With Monta Ellis missing at least the first few months of the season, the Warriors are not off to a very good start.

2008 NBA Preview: #21 Golden State Warriors

Offseason Movement: The team elected not to pursue free agent Baron Davis and struck out on the Elton Brand sweepstakes. They did sign Corey Maggette to a big contract and also acquired Marcus Williams from the Nets for a conditional first round draft pick.
Keep Your Eye On: Monta Ellis, G
With Davis gone, this is Ellis’ team now. His reign got off to an inauspicious beginning when he hurt his ankle while riding a moped around Mississippi and then lied to the team about it. He will have to mature quickly, because the Warriors need a leader, but it’s not clear when Ellis will be able to return to action. For their part, the Warriors have suspended him for 30 games for lying about the injury, but he probably won’t be ready to play by the end of the suspension, so it just amounts to a gigantic fine.
The Big Question: Is Don Nelson the right guy to lead a rebuilding project?
Nelson always seems to have one foot out the door, so it’s unclear if he has the commitment or the patience to coach this team for much longer. They lost a great player in Baron Davis, acquired a good player in Corey Maggette, and will miss Monta Ellis for at least part of the regular season, so all else being equal, it’s more likely than not that the Warriors will take a step back this season. I think that the next time Golden State makes the playoffs, there will be a different coach steering the ship.
Outlook: In Maggette, Biedrins, Stephen Jackson, Al Harringon and Brandan Wright, the team does have a number of talented players, but they lack a star to bring everything together. Ellis is supposed to be that guy, but since he’ll be sidelined for a while, the aforementioned players will have to raise their games for the Warriors to be in the playoff hunt in the talented West.

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