The NBA futures are out as sportsbooks have posted the odds. We’re still months away from tip-off but it looks pretty clear that only about 6 or 7 teams will be in the mix for a title next season.
There’s really no surprise in the Eastern Conference as the Cleveland Cavaliers are the favorite. They easily ran through the East in the playoffs and then even though they were shorthanded, found a way to give the Golden State Warriors a run for their money. They retain the same team intact and it could be LeBron James’ deepest team yet. While they maintained or got stronger, the other East contenders just aren’t there yet. The Chicago Bulls are counting on a new head coach (Fred Hoiberg) to put them over the top. It could happen and you’ll get paid about +575 if it comes to fruition. However, when you consider that the Cavs are -180, the odds aren’t in Chicago’s favor.
Other than that, would you really invest in the Atlanta Hawks? They were swept in the Eastern Conference finals and then lost a key part in DeMarre Carroll in free agency. They’re in the range of +1200 to +1400 if you think they can pull it off but most bettors believe that the stars won’t align for them as they did last season.
Look for the Miami Heat to attract some interest as a possible value play. With a healthy Chris Bosh back in the lineup, they’ll definitely be a playoff team and an intriguing bet. They kept Goran Dragic, added Justise Winslow in the draft, and still have a core that includes Luol Deng, Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire and Gerald Green.
The Western Conference is a complete mess as five different teams could easily win it. The defending champs kept their roster almost fully intact yet they’re not even favored. They’re about +230 to win the West depending at which book you shop at, although 5Dimes has the best price. The Spurs are the top dogs at about +200 as LaMarcus Aldridge and David West are expected to put them over the top. And don’t forget about the Oklahoma City Thunder, who’ll welcome back a healthy Kevin Durant. Durant, Russell Westbrook, Enes Kanter and arguably the deepest roster in the NBA could easily be the best value at +400, although new head coach Billy Donovan is a wild card.
While those are the top three, there’s a paper-thin margin between them and the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets in the pecking order. The Clippers were only a player or two away, yet added Paul Pierce and Lance Stephenson, both of whom could be the final pieces of the puzzle. The Rockets will be making the same argument as remember they made it to the Western Conference final without their starting point guard, Patrick Beverley. Not only is he back but the Rockets also stole Ty Lawson from the Denver Nuggets.
When it comes to the West, it’s really just a personal preference. There are five teams that could easily win it next season.