The NBA’s 2019-20 season doesn’t start until October 2019 but as early as now, the betting lines for the futures bets on team and individual winners are already out. For this article, we will take a look at the odds for the conference winners.
As we know, the NBA is divided into the Eastern and Western Conference. The NBA playoffs are staged per conference and the two conference winners will play in the NBA Finals with the winner being crowned as NBA champions.
The Eastern Conference used to be dominated by the Cleveland Cavaliers but after LeBron James left for Los Angeles last season, it has become an open field. The Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors lorded over the East last season with Toronto going all the way to win it all. The Western Conference has been dominated by the Golden State Warriors in the last five years but the injury to Klay Thompson and the departure of Kevin Durant have pulled the Warriors down in the current odds board.
Odds to win the Eastern Conference
|New York Knicks||+5000|
The Milwaukee Bucks were the best regular-season team in the East last season. Giannis Antetokounmpo won 2019 NBA MVP honors after another spectacular individual season. The Bucks lost to the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals but with Kawhi Leonard leaving for the Clippers, the Bucks are considered as the top favorite to win the East this year. Milwaukee lost Malcolm Brogdon and Brook Lopez to free agency but other than him, Milwaukee’s key players will be back to try and win it all this year.
The Philadelphia 76ers are second in the odds board. While this team lost Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick during the offseason, the Sixers added Al Horford and Josh Richardson to fill the void. And although the core will be different this year, the Sixers will still be led by their duo of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. With Butler gone, I expect Embiid to step up and take on the leadership role in Philly.
The Boston Celtics were a disappointment last season. After making the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018 without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, they couldn’t get things going last season. Irving is now gone and so is Terry Rozier plus Al Horford. But the Celtics still have the ultra-talented Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown on hand. Gordon Hayward should regain his old form in his second season back from the horrific leg injury. The Celtics also bagged All-Star point guard Kemba Walker in free agency.
The Brooklyn Nets got Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant but KD’s still out with an ACL injury and isn’t expected to play next season. The Raptors are without Kawhi Leonard so I don’t expect them to go too far this time around. That said, I think the East will be a three-way battle between the Bucks, Sixers, and Celtics.
Boston’s current odds are tempting but I’m not sure how the Kemba Walker experiment works. The Bucks are definitely the solid favorites here because except for Brogdon, they will be returning the same core that brought them to the top of the standings last season. However, I like the Sixers too because while they lost Butler and Redick, this team has retained the trio of Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris. Al Horford is a veteran and I’m sure he will jell easily with his new teammates. If Josh Richardson clicks as well, this Sixers team s a dangerous team. At +240, I’ll take them over the Bucks to win the East in 2019-20. Prediction: Philadelphia 76ers.
Odds to win the Western Conference
|Los Angeles Lakers||+275|
|Golden State Warriors||+800|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+1500|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+4000|
|San Antonio Spurs||+5000|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+5000|
The West has been dominated by the Golden State Warriors in the last five years. The Dubs have represented the West in the NBA Finals during the past five seasons and they have won three titles during that period. However, Kevin Durant left during the offseason and Klay Thompson suffered an Achilles injury during the 2019 NBA Finals. The Dubs got D’Angelo Russell in exchange for KD but they also lost Quinn Cook and DeMarcus Cousins to the Lakers and traded Andre Iguodala. Steph Curry and Draymond Green have their jobs cut out for them.
The Houston Rockets were seen as the major threat to the Golden State Warriors. But the experiment of pairing James Harden and Chris Paul didn’t work out. The Rockets ended up trading Paul for Russell Westbrook and on paper, this looks like a formidable pair of two former MVPs in Harden and Westbrook. However, I’m not sure how this works because although they were former teammates in OKC, both are ball-dominant players. If Mike D’Antoni is successful in creating harmony, then they may be a contender.
Many are saying though that the Western Conference in 2019-20 will be a two-way race between the two Los Angeles teams. The Lakers missed the playoffs last season but they traded Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart for Anthony Davis. The Brow is the second superstar LeBron James lacked last season to take the Lakers to the playoffs and he may be the star needed to bring the glitter back to the purple and gold. The Lakers also re-configured their lineup and added veterans like DeMarcus Cousins, Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Quinn Cook and Jared Dudley for support.
The Clippers are the favorite to win the West after winning the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes. Leonard led the Raptors to the 2019 NBA title and won 2019 Finals MVP honors. Leonard agreed to go to Los Angeles after the Clippers also forged a trade to get Paul George. So it’s now Leonard and George against LeBron and AD. Kawhi’s supporting cast also includes holdovers Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and Ivica Zubac.
When I look at the West, I like the Lakers here because I think that they have the deeper and more talented team between the two Los Angeles clubs. Also, they are loaded with playoff experience and are led by LeBron James. I think James has two more prime years left in him and I think he knows that too. This year could be the make or break for the LeBron James era in Los Angeles and I think AD will be the difference-maker, that is if he stays healthy. Prediction: Los Angeles Lakers