- The Warriors are heavy favorites to complete a three-peat next season
- LeBron James is the lone player to throw their odds out of whack
- Can a surprise team emerge next year and topple the champs?
It’s the Bay or bust if you’re predicting a champion for the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season.
After winning their third title in four years, the Golden State Warriors are as close you can get to a toss-up for the betting public. The defending champs were arguably the most polished offensive unit in the history of the NBA – and that was before they even acquired Kevin Durant. Now? Good lord.
If you could describe them as a song, they’d be 2Pac featuring Jodeci’s “How Do You Want It?”
Want to run a track meet? This squad was built for that.
Want to slow it down? Durant can iso-burn you to the ground.
Want to turn it into a possession-execution game? You’re dealing with one of the best defenses currently constructed.
Want to double Steph Curry or Durant? Draymond Green is the perfect release valve to initiate secondary offense, while Klay Thompson is the perfect release valve to rain threes on your head.
Want your depth to win out? There is always a combination of two All-Stars on the floor at any time, and then you still have to deal with Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, and a group of reserves that shouldn’t be that good, but, when playing with this squad? The Quin Cooks, Jordan Bells and Kevon Looneys of the world look downright valuable in spurts.
Three chips in four years and counting. The rest of the NBA, you’ve been put on blast.
2018-19 NBA Championship Odds
- Golden State Warriors 11/9
- Houston Rockets 17/3
- Boston Celtics 19/1
- Philadelphia 76ers 25/1
- San Antonio Spurs 25/1
- Cleveland Cavaliers 25/1
- Toronto Raptors 30/1
- Utah Jazz 40/1
- Miami Heat 50/1
- Oklahoma City Thunder 50/1
- Portland Trail Blazers 60/1
- New Orleans Pelicans 60/1
- Minnesota Timberwolves 70/1
- Washington Wizards 80/1
- Milwaukee Bucks 80/1
- Los Angeles Lakers 80/1
- Denver Nuggets 100/1
- Kew York Knicks 100/1
- Indiana Pacers 200/1
- Los Angeles Clippers 200/1
- Phoenix Suns 300/1
- Charlotte Hornets 300/1
- Detroit Pistons 300/1
- Chicago Bulls 400/1
- Brooklyn Nets 400/1
- Sacramento Kings 400/1
- Dallas Mavericks 400/1
- Orlando Magic 500/1
- Memphis Grizzlies 500/1
- Atlanta Hawks 1000/1
About that LeBron Thing
Can anything really stop the carnage? There is one domino that needs to be placed on the board before we can make that assessment, and that is sure to throw these odds wildly off. We’re talking about the status of free-agent-in-waiting LeBron James.
After perhaps his best season ever (which is saying A LOT, considering the body of work), James is expected to opt out of his current deal with the Cavaliers for Decision 3.0.
Where he goes is one thing, but there are a bunch of stars in the NBA constellation that might just finagle their way over to Franchise X that now has LeBron James, to build an instant contender. Assuming that someone joins him via free agency like Paul George, or someone forces a trade like Kawhi Leonard or one of the studs in the Portland backcourt, there could be an opportunity to at least lift their odds to something close to the Warriors.
As for surpassing them? That’s going to have to be earned. Someone is going to have to beat the Warriors first, and so far, they’ve lost just one of their last 16 series since the Kerr-Curry-Thompson-Green crew got together.
Houston, You Could Be A Problem
The Rockets statistically have the best odds at crumbling the current Warriors’ dynasty, but there are lingering worries about the ability of Chris Paul to stay healthy. When he was in the lineup, he was a dynamo, averaging better than 21 points and nearly six assists per game in the playoffs in staking the Rockets to a 3-2 series lead over the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. But a hamstring injury put him down for the final two crucial closeout games, and probable MVP James Harden didn’t have enough juice to shoulder the load. Hopefully, that squeak you heard wasn’t the championship window closing on this franchise.
Big Green Meanies
The Celtics came within a win themselves of crashing the Finals party, on a timeline that didn’t seem likely considering superstar offseason additions Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward were cheerleading in street clothes, rather than leading the attack. Assuming they’re healthy, then watch out. While getting Marcus Smart under contract could be an issue, they still boast a core of Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris. That current collection (and what feels like an endless bounty of draft capital) also has Boston best positioned to rock the league and the balance of power with a blockbuster deal. Anthony Davis, anyone?
Hollywood Ending? Hold Up
Are there any surprises? The biggest one in setting odds is how super high the Los Angeles Lakers have been considered, based on speculation that James will take his talents to Hollywood. On one hand, it’s unreal how the greatest player on the planet can move a line, but on the other, wow! With no real concrete evidence that he’s LA-bound (save for owning two houses in LA), that’s making the assumption that LeBron and say, Paul George, plus the current Lakers’ roster, is ready to compete in the West. Obviously, it’s not the same situation, but we just watched Oklahoma City, with much better top end of talent, two All-Stars, one of the top 20 scorers in NBA history and a real defense, fail to make it out of the first round in the West.
Minus the LeBron factor, perhaps the sneaky good value pick might be the San Antonio Spurs, who return a team that won 47 games on sheer system and guile, with players shifting one level above their usual roles. Adding Kawhi Leonard, assuming the much discussed bad blood is settled, and you’ve got yourself a team that might be able to compete with the Warriors.
Hang on, because this is going to be a wild offseason!