Early indications point to it being rather difficult to unseat the Los Angeles Lakers as defending NBA champions.
Oddsmakers seem to be of the same belief.
LeBron James and Co. are coming off a pandemic-shortened season in which they won the NBA title without breaking a sweat. The Lakers won their first three playoff series in merely five games and then defeated the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals in six games.
Somehow, the Lakers got even better over the offseason. It’s reflected in LA’s prices, too, as the organization is the clear favorite to repeat, followed by the crosstown Clippers and Eastern Conference foes like the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets.
Here’s a list of the 15 teams with the best NBA championship odds entering the 2020-21 season, via consensus data:
Los Angeles Lakers +275
Los Angeles Clippers +550
Milwaukee Bucks +550
Brooklyn Nets +600
Boston Celtics +1500
Miami Heat +1500
Denver Nuggets +2000
Philadelphia 76ers +2000
Dallas Mavericks +2200
Toronto Raptors +2500
Golden State Warriors +3000
Portland Trail Blazers +3500
Utah Jazz +3500
Houston Rockets +6000
Phoenix Suns +6000
And here are two teams (ranked outside the top-five prices) we think present good value:
It’s been the same story for years now. The Sixers haven’t fit well together. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have led an underachieving team which essentially face plants every postseason. But with 20-to-1 odds, we’re willing to take a chance that this year could be different.
After all, head coach Doc Rivers brings a breath of fresh air to Philly, where the 76ers have greatly complemented their depth. The additions of Danny Green and Seth Curry, specifically, will help space the floor for Simmons, while Dwight Howard provides a solid backup for Embiid.
A major factor for Philadelphia will be the play of Tobias Harris. If he can show what he did the last time he played for Rivers in Los Angeles, it could really make the Sixers a major player in the East.
Portland Trail Blazers
You might have noticed based on our NBA Finals contenders, NBA MVP best bets, etc., that we’re rather high on the Trail Blazers this season. It’s true. Well, at least this scribe is. And while we’re not extremely confident anyone will unseat the Lakers, the Blazers present an intriguing option, especially with those 35-to-1 (!!) odds.
Portland concluded its regular season 6-2 in the NBA bubble, returning to health and defeating teams like the Mavericks, 76ers, Nuggets and Rockets. A big part of that was because of the return of center Jusuf Nurkic, who hadn’t played all season but averaged 17.6 points and 10.3 rebounds in that span.
With MVP contender Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum manning the backcourt, along with the additions of Robert Covington and Enes Kanter in the front court and the re-signing of Carmelo Anthony to provide a boost off the bench, the Blazers could be the Lakers’ biggest obstacle.