NBA championship odds update and predictions: Jazz remain longshots
The 2020-21 NBA campaign is not exactly a sprint, but 72 games are considerably fewer than 82—which is the number for each team under normal circumstances. As such, the halfway point of the season is going to sneak up quickly (coming at the end of this month, in fact). Thus, it’s time to look at where the futures odds currently stand in terms of lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
The favorites: Los Angeles Lakers (+250)
There is some concern around the Lakers right now, and not because they aren’t in first place in the Western Conference standings. No, for obvious reasons the regular season hardly matters to this team. What’s concerning is that Anthony Davis is dealing with an Achilles’ injury and is expected to be sidelined until sometime in March. Without any setbacks, Davis will be fine for the playoffs; but what’s to say there won’t be some additional setbacks throughout a 72-game season or during the playoffs? Yes, it’s hard to bet against A.D. and LeBron James–especially following last year’s title. But at this point in the 2020-21 campaign it’s also hard to bet on them when you are only getting +250.
Best of the rest
Brooklyn Nets +400
The Nets’ odds soared when they acquired James Harden from the Houston Rockets, and they remain the second favorites despite mostly underwhelming with their current Big 3. They have some injury concerns of their own, but when healthy they are obviously the most talented team in the association. Given how much longer the odds are (+400 compared to +250), I see Brooklyn having better value than the Lakers.
Los Angeles Clippers +550
Doc Rivers was out as head coach following last year’s postseason disappointment against the Denver Nuggets. Tyronn Lue, who also has championship-winning experience, is in. The Clippers haven’t missed a beat, currently holding a 21-8 record (third-best winning percentage in the NBA). Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are one of the best duos in the business, but losing big man Montrezl Harrell to its in-city rival hurt.
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Milwaukee Bucks +800
Speaking of not caring about the regular season, the Bucks seem to be in that mode to a far greater extent than the Lakers. And why not? In each of the past two years the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference hasn’t done Milwaukee any good. Maybe it will serve Giannis Antetokounmpo and company well to fly under the radar just a bit. This club is similarly constructed to how it was the past two seasons, but perhaps Jrue Holiday can make a real difference in the playoffs.
Longshot worth a look: Utah Jazz (+1300)
The Jazz are 23-5 and a ridiculous 19-1 in their last 20 games. Sure it’s still early, but at some point the sample size has to be considered large enough to confirm that this team is the real deal. Still being able to get Utah at +1300 represents great value in my opinion—especially given the Lakers’ issues and the Nets being a wild card despite their talent. There isn’t anyone the Jazz can’t beat. They aren’t flashy beyond Donovan Mitchell, but nobody plays better team basketball than head coach Quin Snyder’s club.
You can also get the Philadelphia 76ers at +1600, the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets at +2500, and the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat at +3500.
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