It all starts and ends on whether Giannis Antetokounmpo will leave Milwaukee. The back-to-back MVP faced an early exit this season and speculation has run amok that he will ditch the Bucks for greener pastures. It’s also a question on which team he goes to. The Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat are the frontrunners.
The Bucks currently sit at +650 to win the NBA title next season. This is predicated on Antetokounmpo’s future with oddsmakers leaning on him staying. The next two aforementioned teams, Toronto (+2000) and Miami (+1400) are outside contenders.
The other superstars that have made headlines are James Harden and Ben Simmons of Houston and Philadelphia, respectively. Both their teams had disappointing playoff runs and have changed their coaching. Rumours are swirling that Philadelphia will swap Harden for Simmons.
If Houston (+2000) and Philadelphia (+3000) make a blockbuster deal involving both franchise players, expect betting odds to get shaken up.
Other teams making headlines are the Golden State Warriors (+1200) and Brooklyn Nets (+1400). The Warriors were devastated by injuries this season and now have the 2nd overall pick. They either draft a future star with that pick or trade it to acquire another star. Either way, they are expected to contend again.
Brooklyn will also get back Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, arguably the NBA’s deadliest duo. With a new coach in legendary point guard Steve Nash, the Nets are going to change the power dynamics in the Eastern Conference.
2020-21 NBA Champions: the early odds
The 2020-21 NBA season will start on Dec 22. This gives a bit more of an offseason for teams to get ready and for more players to switch teams. Treat betting odds on the NBA with a grain of salt and check frequently for movement.
With that in mind, let’s eye the main teams worth looking out for next season’s title picture:
Los Angeles Lakers (+350): with both the Clippers’ and Bucks’ collapse in the playoffs this year, the Lakers sit at the top as next year’s championship favourites. They have handled every team they faced in the playoffs and signs are optimistic that Anthony Davis will be signing a long-term deal.
Los Angeles Clippers (+400): coach Doc Rivers paid the price for the Clippers’ catastrophic collapse in the playoffs this year. Still, this is one of the most talented and deepest teams in the league. It all depends on whether the team will make some player changes and who coaches.
Milwaukee Bucks (+650): The Bucks are the tentative favourites from the East heading to next season but that will change if Antetokounmpo leaves. Whichever team Antetokounmpo joins could be the new favourites. But as it stands, Milwaukee is still the favourite.
Miami Heat (+1400): it speaks to how underrated the Heat are when the Celtics (+1200), a team they beat, and the Warriors (+1200), a team that didn’t make the playoffs, are ranked higher. But the Heat could prove this year wasn’t a fluke and if they land Antetokounmpo, they could be the outright favourites.
Toronto Raptors (+2000): like Miami, the Raptors are also underrated and are also after Antetokounmpo. But even if they don’t acquire him, they will still clear enough cap space to make some deals. Toronto could bolster their already formidable unit and be a title threat yet again.
Odds to win the 2021 NBA championship were out before the unprecedented 2020 NBA season wrapped inside the bubble, with the L.A. teams – the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers – at the top of the list.
The recently-crowned champs, the Lakers, top the oddsmakers’ picks to win the NBA title next season, set at +350 just ahead of the rival Clippers at +400 and the Milwaukee Bucks at +550.
But with the uncertainty of COVID-19 and its impact on the upcoming NBA season, there are plenty of value underdogs and sleeper picks to win the NBA Championship in 2021.
These are our favorites:
Golden State Warriors +800
This is the trendy NBA Finals prediction (can we call an 8/1 team a sleeper?), with the Warriors having used the 2019-20 campaign as a rest stop before another run at a title. Golden State was without Klay Thompson for the entire year and got only five games from Stephen Curry. The team also limited Draymond Green while kicking the tires on some younger players and potential standouts/trade bait like Andrew Wiggins.
The Warriors hold the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and there’s plenty of speculation around what the organization will do with it. Could the Dubs deal that selection and a name like Wiggins for another superstar? Will the Warriors pick up a key role player in free agency? Or will Golden State grab the next face of the franchise with the No. 2 pick? We know one thing at least: Steph, Klay and Green are enough to challenge for the NBA title… when healthy.
Brooklyn Nets +1100
The Nets may be another questionable “sleeper” but we’ll take 11/1 in a wide-open Eastern Conference. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving finally get to join forces in Brooklyn after KD missed all of 2019-20 recovering from an Achilles tear and Irving played just 20 games of disinterested basketball while nursing injuries. The Nets also made a splash on the sideline with the hire of former NBA MVP Steve Nash as their head coach.
Those three names will be the foundation for a franchise that got a great year from its supporting cast. Brooklyn qualified for the seeding schedule inside the bubble and made the postseason cut in the East, despite a lack of superstars as well as a long list of absent starters and important role players either opting out or sidelined with injuries. The big question for Nash in his first season in the BK is are there enough basketballs to go around?
Dallas Mavericks +2500
Luka Doncic has separated himself from the rest of the NBA in quick work, emerging as a Top-5 superstar in the league with his incredible play in the 2019-20 season and more so during his gritty performances inside the bubble, most notably pushing the star-studded Clippers to the brink in the first round. Alone, he makes Dallas a dark horse contender in the West.
The Mavs have some OK talents supporting Doncic (Kristaps Porzingis is great when healthy) but it’s obvious Mark Cuban has to do more to avoid spoiling the prime of this unique talent. The 2020 free agent crop is void of any mega-stars but the 2021 free agency list is insane. Cuban doesn’t like to miss out on an opportunity, and Dallas could get out ahead of those bidding wars by scoring a trade between now and the deadline. A shot on the Mavericks at 25/1 is Shark Tank investment in Cuban going after it.