Outside of the Golden State Warriors’ rapid demise to start the season, we have seen the odds for winning the 2020 NBA title stay generally the same, besides seeing teams below the Warriors move up while the Warriors drop. This lack of movement means that Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers are still the favorites at +333, and LeBron James and company are just behind at +400.
Between these two teams, I prefer to be on the Clippers because I believe that they are less dependent on a singular player to win basketball games consistently, and that is a big deal in futures betting. As we are seeing right now, the Clippers with Kawhi and without Paul George are still a great team with a lot of potential and depth, and I believe that we would be saying the same stuff if we swapped out Kawhi and put in a healthy George.
For the Lakers, I think that it is pretty clear that this team is heavily dependent on Anthony Davis and LeBron James. While both of those guys are elite basketball players, we watched them both fail to carry their team to the playoffs alone this past year, and I don’t think that that should be overlooked.
The Second Tier
My favorite team in the Eastern Conference at this point is the Philadelphia 76ers at +650, and I have a lot of confidence in their ability to make a deep run this season due to their defense. Last season, Giannis Antetokounmpo dominated against the 76ers, and I think that was a key reason for the 76ers to make Al Horford a priority in the offseason.
For most, Horford to the 76ers was not a real thought until it actually happened, but now it makes a ton of sense. The combination of Horford and Joel Embiid in the middle of the defense is terrifying for opposing offenses, especially someone like Giannis with a suspect jumper.
Giannis has seemingly improved his overall game as a scorer, but I still trust Horford and Embiid to limit him much more than this team could a season ago. I think that the 76ers are the true favorite in the East right now with their depth and defensive talent.
In the West, I like jumping onto the Nuggets at +1600. In their last game, we saw Michael Porter Jr. play his first minutes in an NBA game due to an injury to Will Barton, but I really want this to continue moving forward. MPJ is an elite prospect, and he should be treated like a top-five pick because he has THAT much talent. I don’t see him cracking the rotation for a while until they allow him to play a few more times due to injury.
Right now, I still like Denver at +1600, but I would become much more aggressive in betting on their futures if MPJ starts to get more and more time in the rotation. MPJ is a 6-10 wing scorer that is very athletic, and he fits PERFECTLY with this team as another scorer to go along with Jamal Murray, who is the only player on Denver that is really a score-first player.
I don’t love any team below the Nuggets besides Portland. While I don’t love the team structure of this Trail Blazers team to make a late playoff run, they left no doubt last season that they could hang with the big dogs of the Western Conference. Without Golden State in the picture anymore, I think that it is viable to assume that Damian Lillard and Co. have a shot to win in the postseason.
The odds being at +5000 is what really intrigues me, as that number just seems too high for the teams it is around.