It’s been a long time since we entered an NBA season with as much parity across the board as we have at the start of this 2019-2020 season. In the Eastern Conference, the usual suspects are near the top in Milwaukee and Philadelphia, with the Celtics and Nets trailing just behind. With another offseason filled with a plethora of trades and free agency splashes, some teams have kept rosters stagnant but others bring in a new look entirely and expect their additions to make an impact immediately. With all the moving pieces and a league-wide level of competition we haven’t seen in nearly a decade, let’s take a closer look at where we can spot some value. Check out all Eastern Conference future odds here.
What are the odds?
These odds were taken from FanDuel Sportsbook on October 20, 2019.
|Team||Eastern Conference Odds||Regular Season Win Total|
|New York Knicks||+16000||27.5|
What happened last year?
|New York Knicks||17||65||20.70%||11-41||2-14||9-32||8-33||32-49-1||37-44-1|
Best Bet for Eastern Conference Champion?
With the departures of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, many are expecting the Celtics to continue to regress in Brad Steven’s seventh season at the helm. Since making the conference finals in both 2017 and 2018, Boston exited 2019’s postseason in the conference semi-finals in a five-game series against the Milwaukee Bucks. While Irving is as dynamic a scorer as we have in the league, he was also the lead catalyst in the disfunction the Celtic’s dealt with in 2019 and was a self-admitted poor leader throughout the season. With the departure of Irving at the point guard position, Boston brought in Kemba Walker over the summer who is a year removed from a career season which ended with career-highs in points per game (25.6), three-pointers per game (3.2), and field goals per game (8.9).
Gordon Hayward enters this season another full year removed from the gruesome leg injury that nearly ended his career, and all indications out of preseason camp point towards him returning with improved explosiveness and confidence. If he can take another step closer to where he was pre-injury, his style of play should complement Walker’s nicely. Another player in the Celtics’ frontcourt that I anticipate improvement from and improved efficiency with Walker at the point is third-year small forward Jayson Tatum. After a rookie season that looked to have Tatum poised for a monster sophomore campaign, his game largely stayed the same and failed to ascend to the next level. With more of a pure distributor running the point and the addition of Enes Kanter cleaning up the boards, Tatum’s game should elevate. I don’t think 20 points per game is out of the question.
While this won’t be the most talented roster Stevens has had in his time in Boston, it could be one of his most disciplined and fundamentally sound teams in recent years. The loss of Horford will be difficult to overcome during the postseason, but I get the sense the front office felt he was on the back nine of career and it was time to cut bait and get younger. With the drama now removed from the picture in Boston, it’s a new era with Walker and a cast of young talent and one of the best coaches in the NBA in Stevens. If the Celtic’s can get a top-three seed in the playoffs, which current odds indicate bookmakers think is realistic, I’ll take my chances with a top-five point guard and head coach combo and a team in Boston who seems to enjoy playing defense.