The NBA season is finally underway, and there is no better time to start speculating on who will win it all. This speculation can come in all forms, but I want to break down some of my favorite paths to a hedge out later or to ride it out the whole way to the Finals.
LA Clippers (+350)
After their national TV win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, the Clippers have established themselves as the rather clear favorite in a season that has maybe even 10 teams with a semi-real chance to win the title. I will not be betting on the Clippers at these odds, and if they just continue to roll over opponents all year, I will just never be in on this team at these odds or lower.
This is a really interesting team, but I think that the lack of scoring on their starting unit could hurt them at times, with three starters being basically non-threats on the offensive end. Both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard have had injury issues in the past, and I just don’t feel like we are getting any value.
Los Angeles Lakers (+450)
Similar story here with the Lakers. I just don’t like this team as currently constructed in certain matchups. They can get a few shooters cold and have basically no offense outside of Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
If we see either AD or LeBron go down in the season, this team could easily become just a borderline playoff team like the Pelicans and Lakers were a year ago with these two stars at the helm. If we see a short-term lull or injury throughout the year that drops the price, I am interested, but only if that is the case.
Philadelphia 76ers (+700)
The 76ers are just behind the Milwaukee Bucks (+625) in title odds, and I just prefer the 76ers in this matchup. In the preseason, Giannis Antetokounmpo looked completely unstoppable, but I am not convinced that his improvement is much more than typical growth for a fantastic player. If Giannis comes out and shoots 38 percent from three, I’ll have a lot more hesitation here, but I’m not really concerned about that right now.
The big key here is Philadelphia’s additions of Josh Richardson and Al Horford to what I believe to be the best defense in basketball, and I don’t think it is particularly close. Richardson is really solid as a player and adds great length at the 2. It also really helps that Horford is no longer trying to stop Joel Embiid.
Horford has been a matchup problem for both Embiid and Giannis in the past, and I think that the length of this starting lineup has the ability to really hold Giannis down offensively compared to most teams. I expect the 76ers to control the pace in most of their games and really grind a lot of teams out of the game by the fourth quarter.
Denver Nuggets (+2000)
The Nuggets are by far my favorite price play on the board because they are just a better basketball team than teams above them. This team dealt with injuries all season long last year, and they still coasted to the second seed in a loaded Western Conference.
If this team can stay healthy, they are almost all improving and growing towards their upside besides Paul Millsap, and this is a great spot to buy on the young team. Speaking of youth, Michael Porter Jr. is incredibly talented and should be their starting 3 by playoff time if he capitalizes on his opportunity. He is the closest thing to Kevin Durant I have ever seen, and I expect him to provide yet another scoring threat.