No doubt trying to capitalize on the wave of nostalgia that has made Star Wars crazy popular again, the NBA now has its own evil empire to be jeered and hated. After Kevin Durant joined the “dark side” this offseason, the already strong Golden State Warriors became far too powerful. Now the rest of the league will try to rebel against the seemingly inevitable takeover by the Warriors’ new “Big Four.”
At least that’s how I’m selling it, because the NBA regular season is usually lacking in drama. But there will be some things worth watching when the 2016-17 year tips off on Tuesday. Like, which young talents will emerge to fill the void left by the retirement of stars like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett? And who will be joining them on the beach soon enough?
Then there’s always the debate over individual hardware. Can LeBron get closer to ghost-busting MJ with his fifth MVP award? Which newcomer will capitalize on the injury to no. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons and take home Rookie of the Year? And when will the Aussie get back on the court? We’ve got all the answers, below, in another comprehensive collection of odds.
NBA Season Preview (2016-17)
NBA Title Odds
Golden State Warriors: 5/4
Cleveland Cavaliers: 4/1
San Antonio Spurs: 11/1
Boston Celtics: 25/1
Toronto Raptors: 25/1
Los Angeles Clippers: 33/1
Chicago Bulls: 66/1
New York Knicks: 66/1
Oklahoma City Thunder: 66/1
Memphis Grizzlies: 75/1
Minnesota Timberwolves: 75/1
Portland Trailblazers: 75/1
Atlanta Hawks: 100/1
Indiana Pacers: 100/1
Utah Jazz: 100/1
Houston Rockets: 125/1
Detroit Pistons: 150/1
New Orleans Pelicans: 150/1
Washington Wizards: 150/1
Charlotte Hornets: 175/1
Dallas Mavericks: 175/1
Miami Heat: 175/1
Milwaukee Bucks: 200/1
Orlando Magic: 225/1
Sacramento Kings: 350/1
Los Angeles Lakers: 500/1
Philadelphia 76ers: 500/1
Denver Nuggets: 750/1
Phoenix Suns: 750/1
Brooklyn Nets: 1,000/1
In case you haven’t heard yet, the Warriors made a huge splash in free agency this year when they signed veteran forward David West. The addition has catapulted Golden State, who won 73 games last year without West, into the clear favorites for the NBA Title. Alright, so maybe I’ve got the wrong guy. But I think we’re all a little tired of hearing about Kevin Durant at this point. Let’s just get to the games already.
The Raptors were able to keep DeMar DeRozan, but there was nothing they could do about the Celtics adding Jaylen Brown and Al Horford. These two teams are the East’s best hope of knocking off LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. But, the odds should tell you how likely either of them are to actually do it.
All of the Bulls, Knicks, and Timberwolves see themselves with much better odds than they had last season. Chicago’s new big-three of Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and Rajon Rondo, along with the likes of Robin Lopez and Denzel Valentine, have brought some hope back to the Windy City after a tough year where they missed the playoffs. The Knicks added Derrick Rose, and IF he can stay healthy, will fit in nicely with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves all aged one season, and had a ton of talent before Kris Dunn fell to them in the NBA Draft. It’s only a matter of time before things click in Minnesota.
LeBron James: 4/1
Steph Curry: 9/2
Russell Westbrook: 13/2
Kevin Durant: 7/1
Kawhi Leonard: 10/1
Although it has been one of the two who has won the MVP over the last three years, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant will now have to share touches, and it only seems appropriate that their numbers will take a small hit.
LeBron James has put up MVP numbers over the past couple seasons in Cleveland, but has been outdone by Steph Curry – on the stat sheet that is. He not only does their scoring, but he distributes the ball as well as any point guard in the league.
Odds to win the scoring title
Russell Westbrook: 9/2
James Harden: 5/1
Steph Curry: 11/2
Kevin Durant: 7/1
LeBron James: 7/1
Even when playing alongside Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook was a shoot-first point guard. Pundits have been very critical of his shot selection, considering he played with a league MVP. But, that was in the past, now Westbrook can take all the shots. While it may not translate into team success, Westbrook becomes the odds-on favorite to win the scoring title.
Nipping at his heels is another volume shooter in James Harden. The Rockets guard may not be able to defend (at all), but he certainly can score – and draw fouls.
Odds to win Rookie of the Year
Brandon Ingram: 11/2
Buddy Hield: 6/1
Kris Dunn: 7/1
Jamal Murray: 15/2
Joel Embiid: 9/1
The top of this list was a lot more clear-cut before Ben Simmons’ foot injury that is expected to keep him out until January. Now, the number two overall pick, Brandon Ingram, becomes the odds-on favorite, as he is expected to be immediately thrown into the fire in Los Angeles.
Kris Dunn may not start for the Timberwolves, but he sure will get his minutes and make the most of them.
Joel Embiid has used a strong season to propel his name into the conversation for rookie of the year, but there are a ton of questions as to whether he can stay healthy.
Odds to be the first coach fired
Earl Watson, Suns:3/1
Alvin Gentry, Pelicans: 9/2
Brett Brown, 76ers:5/1
Michael Malone, Nuggets: 7/1
Nate McMillan, Pacers: 9/1
After taking over as head coach of the Suns last year, Watson guided his team to an awful 9-24 record, and there is nothing to make me believe it’ll get any better this season. As a young, unproven coach in the league, Watson will not have the same leash as someone like Frank Vogel when things aren’t going well. Wait, what? The Pacers fired Vogel? Hmm, well Watson better improve on his .273 winning percentage quick.
Alvin Gentry was given a pass last year because they played without Anthony Davis for 21 games. But, he won’t be awarded the same luxury this year. If Gentry doesn’t have this team winning, the organization will find someone who can.
For whatever reason, the 76ers have remained confident in Brett Brown as their head coach, in spite of a .191 winning percentage, which is the worst among active coaches in the NBA – obviously excluding those who have yet to coach a game. However, now that Joel Embiid is healthy, there will be a little more pressure on Brown to produce some wins for the lowly franchise.
Odds the Warriors break the record for most wins in a season (73): 6/1
Can they break the record they just set last season? That is a huge ask. Last year’s team was a well-oiled machine; all the key pieces had played together for a while and already won a title. This year’s team adds Kevin Durant, which is great on paper but will require some getting used to as he, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green find their roles within the team.
KD isn’t the only change. Gone are Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes. In are the likes of Zaza Pachulia, David West, and Javale McGee. New teammates always need a bit of time to gel. When you’re gunning for 74 wins in an 82-game season, you can’t afford any rough patches.
Odds to be first Warrior to complain about his role
Draymond Green: 1/2
Steve Kerr is still the Warriors coach, which means Draymond is going to have some issues on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Based on what we’ve seen in the preseason, KD is just fine with a reduced role (versus the massive one he occupied in OKC).
O/U teams that protest the National Anthem in some capacity during their first regular-season game: 15.5
Obviously this depends on what you count as a “protest.” Does simply linking arms count? What about wearing a certain t-shirt? At the end of the day, I see the majority of teams doing something to indicate either dissatisfaction or solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
O/U games played for Ben Simmons: 26.5
First Brett Brown said the rookie would be back in January, then he was more measured about the timeline. If he comes back in late January, he’ll have the chance to play about 35-40 games. The chances that he (a) returns at that time and (b) plays in all the Sixers’ remaining games are not good. But you also have to consider the possibility that he gets some playoff games in. (Bahahaha JK no you don’t.)
Odds Chris Bosh plays in the NBA in 2016-17: 9/1
The Heat have said Bosh is very unlikely to suit up for them this year; in light of his constant battle with blood clots, the chances he gets medical clearance to play this season are slim. But he does want to comeback to the Association at some point. Speaking of which …
Assuming Chris Bosh returns to the NBA at some point, odds it’s with the …
Cleveland Cavaliers: 4/1
Miami Heat: 9/2
Chicago Bulls: 8/1
Toronto Raptors: 9/1
Odds the following players retire after the 2016-17 season
Manu Ginobili: 1/3
Vince Carter: 5/6
Chris Bosh: 2/1
Dirk Nowitzki: 3/1
Dwyane Wade: 9/1
Tony Parker: 12/1
Bosh doesn’t want to retire, but he might be forced to if he can’t pass a physical next year.
Disco Dirk is still balling pretty good and has a year left on his contract. Any recent mentions he’s made of retirement have referred to a multi-year timeline.
Ginobili and Parker both just retired from international play. At 39, Ginobili is foreshadowing his soon-to-come departure from the NBA. But Parker’s only 34 (seriously). He’s got some joie de vivre left in those frogs legs.
Carter would be 41 during the 2017-18 season. (That’s super old.)
Photo Credit: Keith Allison from Baltimore, USA (AAAA0584) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons