- The Los Angeles Lakers are favorites in the opening odds to win the championship for the 2020-21 season
- Golden State, Milwaukee, and the Clippers are the other top teams in contention
- Are LeBron James and Anthony Davis an unstoppable force? Will the Clips and Bucks correct the wrongs of their playoff disappointments?
One win away from the 2019-20 NBA title, the Los Angeles Lakers are favorites to win it all again in 2020-21.
The opening NBA championship odds for next season have the Lakers leading the way, ahead of the Clippers, who are priced at +500 despite not having a head coach.
The Milwaukee Bucks are at +900, tied with the Warriors. The reigning Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat are way out at +1400, while a Nets team with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant slots in at +1200, the same price as Eastern Conference Finalists, the Boston Celtics.
The table below has title odds for all 30 NBA teams next season.
Opening 2020-21 NBA Championship Odds
|Los Angeles Lakers||+400|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+500|
|Golden State Warriors||+900|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+3300|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+4000|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+6600|
|San Antonio Spurs||+25000|
|New York Knicks||+30000|
Odds taken on October 8th
Lakers to Repeat?
The Lakers odds are dependent on Anthony Davis being re-signed as a free agent. That seems as close to a sure thing as it gets in the NBA – Davis has a great relationship with LeBron James, the Lakers will offer him the biggest contract, they will likely have just won a title.
Keeping Davis and James together, and healthy, effectively secures the Lakers as frontrunners to go back-to-back. They have proven a pretty much unstoppable duo in these playoffs.
James shows little sign of slowing down. At some point, though, he surely has to drop off. The 2020-21 campaign, whenever it starts, will be his 18th year in the league and his age-36 season. James will begin the season as one of the favorites for MVP, but each year of James’ career is met with greater uncertainty over how long he has left at the top.
Perhaps it’s safest to assume his greatness continues given what he has done in his mid-thirties. If he maintains his 2019-20 levels into next season, the Lakers are going to be very hard to beat.
It’s not just James’ ageing that poses a question to the Lakers dominance. Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard have been key cogs for their winning machine in this playoff run. Both, like James, are deep into their thirties. Danny Green has been hobbled in the postseason and turned 33 in June.
Building a core of veterans has been a major component of their success, but with no cap space or draft picks, they have limited ways to bring in younger players, and there’s a risk of decline with many of their rotation pieces.
Clippers, Bucks Have Questions to Answer
LAC have such talent on their roster that they are comfortably second favorites to win the title next season despite not having a coach. This team had an all-time meltdown against Denver. They have given away all of their draft picks.
The Clippers have little choice but to run it back – backing them to win the title is putting a lot of faith in the new coach to bring this group together, to overcome the lack of ball-handling and interior defense.
There’s no value in the Clippers at that price even with Kawhi Leonard and a supposedly strong supporting cast.
Just like the Clips, the Milwaukee Bucks fell far short in the post-season. Mike Budenholzer’s team were embarrassed by the Miami Heat, their historic defense unable to slow the Heat’s offense and their offense appearing one-dimensional. Giannis Antetokounmpo is yet to convert his majestic regular season performances into post-season dominance.
Winning in the playoffs is a different art to racking up regular seasons Ws. Until Milwaukee prove they can adapt, bettors should be skeptical of them as a post-season threat.
Golden State Come Roaring Back
All eyes are on the Golden State Warriors this offseason. Will they trade the number two pick? Is ownership happy to pay such a sizeable luxury tax bill? How does Klay Thompson look on his return from injury?
Their big three have all passed 30. There’s no Kevin Durant, there’s no Andre Iguodala. It’s easy to downplay the Warriors’ title chances. Of course, one can counter that their stars all had a year to rest after a run of five consecutive Finals appearances. LeBron James’ performances into his thirties will give the Bay Area fan base hope that Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Thompson can do the same.
A lot will depend on what happens with Andrew Wiggins. He could get traded. He could remain on the team as a third or fourth offensive option, a role he might thrive in. While he’s unlikely to live up to his contract, Golden State will hope Wiggins can do much of what Harrison Barnes did for them.
There’s no doubt the Warriors are dangerous in 2020-21. If healthy, they are going to be in the mix, and unlike the Clippers and Bucks, they have proven they can do it in the playoffs. They have shown they can beat LeBron James.
Don’t Sleep on Denver
We should have learned not to sleep on the Denver Nuggets by now. Denver’s lengthy +2000 price reflects the strength of the Western Conference, but it still seems harsh for a team that toppled the Clippers and gave the Lakers a very competitive series.
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray were the best non-Lakers star duo in the post-season. Murray did things in the playoffs that only a few active guards have done. Jokic is a once-in-a-generation talent. A year of development, particularly on the defensive end, and Michael Porter Jr. could be nearing stardom.
One of the reasons why Jerami Grant is so valuable.
He can switch a LeBron-AD pick and roll
He can switch a Curry-Draymond pick and roll
Denver has to get to a place where they can match GSW’s shooting AND LAL’s size. Grant’s step 1 of that this offseason. https://t.co/dCWxFhYBRB
— Ryan Blackburn (@NBABlackburn) October 7, 2020
The front office has flexibility to improve this roster. Signing Jerami Grant should be a priority, particularly with Paul Millsap’s contract coming off the books. Getting Will Barton back is huge.
Denver has shown they can duel with the best teams in the league. They are a good bet at +2000.
Best bets: Lakers, Warriors, Nuggets