NBA Futures 2020
California Dreaming: The Best NBA Finals Title Odds Lie Out West
The 2019 NBA Finals brought with it a stunning upset and a rash of injuries that would change the landscape of the league for the next decade.
Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant would suffer injuries that would end their 2019-20 seasons, Kawhi Leonard would bring an NBA championship to Canada for the first time ever and enter free agency as a two-time NBA Finals MVP, and LeBron James would feverishly chase after a star player to team up with him in Los Angeles to bring the Lakers back to prominence.
A lot can change in a hurry in this league, and there in lies the vast potential of the NBA futures market.
Entering the 2019-20 season, it should be no surprise that the two heavy favorites to win the 2020 NBA Championship reside in the City of Angels, but is this where the best value for NBA futures odds lie?
The Brow & The Claw: Projecting the NBA Futures for the Western Conference
All eyes will be on the city of Los Angeles this season as the Lakers and Clippers super-teams appear to be on a collision course for NBA supremacy. The Clippers enter the season as the slight favorite to win the 2020 NBA Finals, and when you look at their roster you can see why. Doc Rivers’ Clippers may have the best perimeter defensive unit in recent memory with Patrick Beverley, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the fold. NBA 6th Man of the Year winner Lou Williams returns and Montrezl Harrell provides the Clippers with a rebounding and defensive menace in the paint.
The Lakers are considered the next most likely team to win the NBA Finals, with oddsmakers having the Lake Show listed as +440 favorites to secure the 17th title in team history. For the Lakers to begin a new decade as champions, they will look towards the superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Davis finally arrived in L.A. in a blockbuster trade that had been floated since the NBA trade deadline the year before.
Los Angeles is not the only team to pay attention to out West, however. The Houston Rockets went out and pulled the plug on the Chris Paul experiment by swapping the veteran guard for Mr. Triple Double Russell Westbrook. Westbrook re-unites with perennial NBA MVP candidate James Harden, and with the Warriors no longer in the Rockets path, a possible run to the NBA Finals cannot be ruled out.
If you’re looking for a little “off-the-radar” sleeper to come out of the Western Conference this season, those sleepers may be found in the Utah Jazz (+1300 to win the title) or Denver Nuggets (+1600 to win the title). The Jazz are a very well coached team and added veteran point guard Mike Conley to play in the backcourt with young scoring star Donovan Mitchell. The Nuggets meanwhile are coming off a 54 win season and were narrowly close to a Western Conference Finals appearance, before squandering a big lead late in Game 7 against the Trail Blazers. However, this is a team with arguably the best center in basketball in Nikola Jokic, and a lot of young talent around him (Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Will Barton) that can shoot the basketball.
If you’re looking for a real long shot with an abundance of talent, the Mavericks (+4200) and Pelicans (+6500) may also be worth a lotto ticket of sorts. The Mavericks will showcase their new young tandem of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, with veteran guards Tim Hardaway Jr. and Seth Curry providing scoring off the bench.
The Pelicans meanwhile won the Zion Williamson sweepstakes, however, the explosive rookie will be on the shelf to start the season as he recovers from offseason knee surgery. As Zion recovers, the Pels will rely on the haul they got for Anthony Davis (Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and Brandon Ingram) to keep them afloat in the very deep and competitive Western Conference.
Giannis’ Quest For Redemption: Projecting the Eastern Conference NBA Futures
Giannis Antetokounmpo is coming off of a career best season that saw the Greek Freak take home the MVP award, however Giannis’ focus this season won’t be on repeating as league MVP, but rather getting redemption following a painful loss to the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals. The Bucks led that best-of-seven series 2-0 before losing four straight to the eventual NBA champs.
With Kawhi Leonard no longer in Toronto, the path to the Bucks first NBA Finals appearance since 1974 seems to be much clearer. As a result, oddsmakers have listed the Bucks as the favorites to win the Eastern Conference and as +550 favorites to secure the franchises 2nd ever NBA championship.
The other team that fell victim to Kawhi’s claw last postseason were the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers took the eventual champion Raptors to the brink of elimination before Kawhi Leonard hit a corner buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the East Semis to end the Sixers season.
The Sixers bring back their core duo of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, but were unable to retain Jimmy Butler in free agency and had to agree to a sign-and-trade deal with Miami to avoid getting nothing in return for Butler’s services. As a result, the Sixers were able to shore up their depth and perimeter shooting with the acquisition of guard Josh Richardson.
Even though they lost the arguable best player in basketball, the aforementioned defending NBA champion Raptors also figure to still be in the mix for another run in the playoffs as Kyle Lowry, Fred Van Vleet and Pascal Siakam are still a very potent trio to contend with in the slightly weaker Eastern Conference.
If you’re looking for a Raptors like sleeper from the East, the Celtics could very well fit that role. The Celtics came into last season with an enormous amount of expectations and fell far short of living up to the hype. However, now the Celts have moved on from Kyrie Irving and signed All-Star point-guard Kemba Walker away from the Hornets to fill that role. As a result, the Celts team chemistry may return to where it was a few seasons ago, and Brad Stevens may finally get the young Celtics back into the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
The Nets were also very busy in free agency this past summer when they brought the aforementioned Irving to Brooklyn and paired him with Kevin Durant. Durant will of course miss the entire season due to a ruptured Achilles suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and while the Nets are unlikely to win a title behind Kyrie Irving – they will be a team to pay attention to when 2021 NBA futures begin to be made ready.
Deep sleepers Indiana (+1600 to win the NBA championship) and Miami (+2700 to win the NBA championship) figure to be improved from a season ago, but it does not appear as though they have the ammo to get past the top dogs in this conference.