The 2018-19 season has come and gone, and boy did it deliver an entertaining ending. Preseason, regular season, and even postseason expectations were defied when the Toronto Raptors took down the hobbled Golden State Warriors. Not only did the Warriors face a litany of injuries that cost them the 2019 title, but those ailments are also significant enough that they knocked Golden State from their place as the early favorite to take the 2020 crown.
And then if that wasn’t enough, just after the end of the season we had a blockbuster trade that has a new West Coast superpower sitting atop the odds leaderboard for 2019-20 NBA Champion. Our writers are here to provide their favorite early bets to win the 2020 NBA Championship.
First, let’s check out the odds courtesy FanDuel:
|Los Angeles Lakers||+350|
|Golden State Warriors||+1100|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+1400|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+2400|
Favorite Early Bets to Win the 2020 NBA Championship
Denver Nuggets (+1900)
The Western Conference is wide open. The Warriors are the walking wounded, the Lakers have no depth, the Spurs are another year older, as are the Rockets. Denver probably has the most upside in terms of star talent, young players with further ceiling and assets that could be used to make moves. Jokic + a healthy Michael Porter + Jamaal Murray and a re-configured roster can easily make the NBA finals.
– Davis Mattek (@DavisMattek)
The Nuggets should’ve made the Western Conference Finals this past season and all signs point to them adding another legit scorer to the roster. If that’s the case, they’ll again be one of the best teams in the West without question. It also helps that Jokic and Murray got the taste of the playoffs, and it’s unlikely they’ll lose another Game 7 at home against an inferior team. The West is a toss up and the odds on the Lakers are way too high, so it only makes sense to look at everyone else in the conference.
– Adam Zdroik (@RotoZdroik)
Los Angeles Lakers (+350)
Most bettors will shy away from +350 odds for a team with no starting backcourt or viable bench weapons on the roster, which is understandable, but Kuzma and AD alone give LeBron plenty of ammunition to return to the sacred land. Anthony Davis hasn’t had the right pieces to make a deep run in New Orleans, but the bright lights of LA will reveal that LeBron and AD are both all-time talents. One is second in career PER and one is third. One is arguably the greatest player of all-time and one is a 26-year-old MVP candidate hungry to play his way into superstardom. During the season, the Lakers offered the Pelicans a similar deal that included Kyle Kuzma. A little lottery luck allowed them to keep Kuzma and acquire AD. That’s a major win for LA, to add AD prior to free agency with the possibility to open enough cap space for a third max contract. The best time to take LA is obviously long gone, but if the Lakers do add a third star they could be entering their newest dynasty.
– James Esposito (@PropZillaa)
Milwaukee Bucks (+550)
The Bucks are following the progression of a future NBA Champion. They finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA and were the heavy favorite to win the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee swept the Pistons, disposed of the Celtics in five games, before winning the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals by an average of 15 points. The Raptors shockingly won the next four games in a row, exposing Milwaukee’s lack of a secondary scorer and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s free throw woes. With the Bucks still residing in the much weaker conference, they will return the nucleus of a team that was just one Game 5 home win away from a likely NBA Championship. The Bucks will re-sign All-Star Khris Middleton and will be buyers in the free agent/trade market for a second-scorer with a strong mid-range game. Look for Antetokounmpo to return with a vengeance and Milwaukee to lean on one of the deepest rosters in the league for another strong regular season. If Kawhi Leonard leaves Toronto, the Bucks will again be massive Eastern Conference favorites with just one series to win to cash their +550 value.
– Mike Randle (@RandleRant)
Toronto Raptors (+700)
This answer may be partially related to the excitement and euphoria of the Toronto Raptors’ first NBA championship and the resulting parade, but they are my pick for the 2019-2020 NBA champions. With just under two weeks to go until free agency, they are still in the driver’s seat in terms of the best team in the league. Of course, this will all change if Kawhi leaves next month, but if he does not, every playoff piece will be returning. Danny Green has already stated that his FA decision hinges on Kawhi, and you can bet that Marc Gasol will be opting in to his $25.9 million dollar contract if the reigning finals MVP re-signs. Perhaps it is just rose-colored glasses coloring my opinion, but Kawhi and Uncle Dennis know that the East provides an easy path to back-to-back NBA championships. While reports of Kawhi possibly signing a short term deal to maximize his earning potential in 2021 abound, fans in the city will point to Uncle Dennis holding up five fingers when Kyle Lowry told the fans to chant five more years instead of the one more year they had been chanting all morning and afternoon. A one-unit shot on the defending NBA champions at +700, when we know Golden State cannot compete next season, and that the Lakers cannot sign anyone else of note? Sign me up.
– Raju Byfield (@FantasyContext)
Houston Rockets (+850)
You might have heard the Lakers acquired Anthony Davis and are now favored to win the NBA title. The only problem for L.A. is that by doing so, they also gave up a lot of the depth on their roster. The Warriors expect Kevin Durant to miss all of next season, and Klay Thompson is expected to be out until as late as February or March based on the latest reports. I’ll never count out the Warriors, and fully expect them to make the playoffs, and they obviously have a chance to make a run once they get there, but I can’t pick them outright to win the title with so much up in the air. I do think the champ comes from the Western Conference, which means I think all signs are pointing to James Harden and the Rockets finally breaking through and getting the job done. There were rumors that Chris Paul was looking to get traded away, but those rumors were squashed by GM Daryl Morey who claims he wants to add to the roster, not start shedding talent. With the NBA finally without a clear-cut favorite, I like a team that’s been hovering around success to take home the crown next season.
– Philip Wood (@Phil_Wood_Jr)