The Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Championship in an exciting 6 game series against the Phoenix Suns. Will they repeat and is their value in the NBA Odds on the Bucks to repeat as champions? The Milwaukee Bucks overcame long odds in order to become NBA champion. They defeated the favorite to win the title, the Brooklyn Nets in a thrilling game 7 that went to overtime. The Nets suffered key injuries in that series to Kyrie Irving and James Harden. A fully healthy Nets team poses the biggest challenge to Milwaukee’s chances to repeat as champions.
It is fair to say most observers believe that the Nets would have won the series with either James Harden or Kyrie Irving healthy. With both healthy, they will present quite the challenge for the Bucks. The Nets will also have the advantage of being able to rebuild the team around James Harden. Acquired in season, Harden was a fantastic pickup but made the team top-heavy, lacking rotation pieces.
This and the loss of Jared Allen midseason was tough on the Nets’ defense. Given the fact that they present the best chance for free agents to get a championship ring, the Nets will be able to sign the most coveted players on the mid-level exception market to fill out their roster in a more balanced fashion. The Bucks escaped the last playoff series with a toe on the line, a fully healthy Nets team will pose the biggest challenge for the Bucks to repeat.
The Brooklyn Nets acquired James Harden in-season. The Philadelphia 76ers, the number one seed in the East last season, will also be looking to make a move to strengthen their roster. Ben Simmons appeared to have reached the end of the road with his tenure in Philadelphia. Simmons is an attractive trade piece and Philadelphia has other young players that teams view as assets as well.
So while right now the Bucks roster looks stronger than the 76ers, there is quite a good chance that the Sixers will make a major upgrade either before the season starts or during the season, which would also pose a problem for the Bucks. The Hawks came up short but should be much stronger with Cam Reddish and DeAndre Hunter returning from injuries.
Even if they lose John Collins, having those 2 wings will greatly bolster Atlanta’s ability to defend and could allow them to keep pace with the Bucks’ elite defense. You cannot count out Atlanta as they are likely to improve as well. In the West, teams such as the Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, and Nuggets all could pose problems if they are healthy.
First and foremost, the 2020 champions Lakers are quite the different team with Anthony Davis on the floor and the combination of LeBron James and Anthony Davis can never be discounted as a title contender. I personally liked the match-up for the Bucks against the Lakers if they made it to the Finals against each other. Regardless, even if it’s a favorable match-up, it will still be a tough hurdle for the Bucks to overcome in order to repeat.
We do not know how long Kawhi Leonard will be out for the Clippers but this is a team that has played quite well and matches up with the Bucks quite well with their ability to defend on the perimeter. They switch using the same defensive style that Milwaukee used predominantly this season.
With the healthy Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers can also pose problems for this Milwaukee team and have many advantage matchups to attack. The Denver Nuggets lost Jamal Murray and faced Phoenix Suns with an injured Michael Porter Jr. With Murray and MPJ at full strength, the Nuggets could potentially overwhelm the Bucks with their offense in what would be a fantastic series.
Los Angeles Lakers+550
Golden State Warriors+1200
Los Angeles Clippers+1800
Portland Trail Blazers+6600
New Orleans Pelicans+8000
New York Knicks+10000
San Antonio Spurs+15000
Oklahoma City Thunder+50000
As you can see, the Bucks are only +800. This seems high for a defending champion! Given the fact that so many other top contenders had injuries, it makes sense that they would not be the leading favorite. You can assume 4 of the title-contending teams will be improved this year so at +800 I do not think there is value in the Milwaukee Bucks right now.
As the season progresses, you might get a better number and this is something to keep an eye on. For example, this season I got Milwaukee at +950 to win the title before the playoffs, and I only had to tie my money up for 2 months instead of 12. There are better values on the board. It is not more than 11.1% likely that the Bucks repeat as NBA champion.