With the NBA regular season ready to commence in less than three weeks, NBA basketball handicappers have or are releasing their choices on futures bets at sportsbooks who will the NBA title.
Whether you want to do it today or 10 games into the season, making a futures wager against the NBA odds is the safest bet you can make in all the major sports. Why you ask, if you or I can correctly identify the Top 3 teams in each division at the end of the regular season, only once since 1970 has a NBA champion not been in this group (Houston 1994-95).
Also, the sportsbooks like 5Dimes.eu make it easy, telling you who the top contenders are as you read ahead in this article looking over the betting odds. Get ready, get set basketball bettors, here we go.
Cream of the Crop
Cleveland (+265) is the preferred choice for NBA picks to win championship, with LeBron James matched with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. However, no favorite in recent years has more questions marks. Both Love and Irving have been injury-prone in recent years and with the NBA schedule even more compact, that will not help.
David Blatt has a great reputation as an international coach and was initially brought in to help rebuild the Cavaliers. His situation changed dramatically and not only has to adjust to coaching in the NBA with a long regular season, but now bigger egos, having to pacify players used to starting and sudden massive expectations. While the pieces are in place, Miami was in a far better situation than Cleveland and it took them two years to become champs.
San Antonio (+360) is the defending champions and while they disprove seemingly every year the Big 3 is getting older, it just does not happen on the Gregg Popovich system. But last year we began to see the changing of the guard away from being Tony Parker’s team more toward Kwahi Leonard and expect that to continue.
Almost assuredly the Spurs will be among the best three teams in the Western Conference, but San Antonio has not repeated in three previous attempts, largely because the toll is too great from the previous year.
One Rung Down on the Ladder
After coming close on several occasions, is this the year Oklahoma City (+565) busts through? No doubt coach Scottie Brooks has a lot of pressure on him. Brooks has never had a team focused on making defensive stops rather than steals and this is an area he has to sell his more offensive-minded team on if they want to take home the hardware. Also, Brooks needs a bench with better variety, a better mix of defenders and shooters, not having duplication of scorers like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Thunder has the parts, but can they and their coach improve this season?
Any questions about the Chicago Bulls (+765) start with Derrick Rose and end with health. If Chicago can get 70 regular season games out of Rose, the rust should be gone and questions answered on his health. The Bulls are hoping Pau Gasol will give them a low post scoring presence, with Rose as the penetrator. Aaron Brooks and rookie Doug McDermott will help with the offense and it is a given a Tom Thibodeau-coached team will play defense. The fact remains, can Chicago stay healthy?
The L.A. Clippers (+925) are the third best team in the West can they breakthrough to reach the Finals or is this the ceiling? The only way they pass both the Spurs and Thunder is Doc Rivers convincing a team not loaded with defensive talent to work more cohesively on that end of the floor. For many, that means checking your ego at the door and having a hunger for the big prize. The Clippers need J.J. Redick’s deep game to balance the floor and Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to broaden their skill sets.
Longshots Short List
Houston (+1850) had the fourth-best record in the West last season but was dispatched by Portland in round one of the playoffs. With limited roster moves of improvement, the Rockets are grounded.
Dallas (+3000) should be long on offense and fun to watch and short on defense, which means Over’s and backdoor covers. NBA Finalists? LOL
How bad is the Eastern Conference, Washington (+3600) is picked third and are expected to win the Southeast Division. The Wizards have a great young backcourt and toughness up front, but are not close to being NBA contenders.