The commissioners of MLB, the NFL, and the NHL tout parity in their leagues, and, generally speaking, a handful of teams every year do have a chance to bring home a title. It’s why you rarely see repeat champions in those leagues – the NHL’s Penguins notwithstanding.
In the NBA, it’s an entirely different story. You must have at least one superstar, if not two, to win it all. The preseason favorite usually does hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy each June.
Thus, there might not be a ton of drama entering the 2017/18 NBA season, which tips off in around two weeks. The Golden State Warriors, led by superstar Steph Curry, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by superstar LeBron James, have played in an unprecedented three straight NBA Finals. Anyone for a fourth?
The Warriors are -160 betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com to repeat and win a third championship in four years, while the Cavaliers are +550 to win their second in three.
The Warriors and Cavaliers went about this offseason very differently. All of Golden State’s key players are back, with only some modifications to the bench. Cleveland overhauled nearly half its roster in trading All-Star guard Kyrie Irving to Boston for All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas and forward Jae Crowder; Thomas, though, is expected out until January with a hip injury. The Cavaliers also signed free agents Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose.
The Celtics finished with the East’s best record last season before being dominated by Cleveland in the East Finals. No team has changed more in the offseason as Boston has just four returning players – Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and Al Horford – after the Irving trade, dealing Avery Bradley to Detroit, signing free agent Gordon Hayward and other moves. Boston is +800 on the NBA futures.
The West is going to be loaded as the next four favorites are from that conference: San Antonio (+1200), Oklahoma City (+1200), Houston (+1600) and Minnesota (+2800).
The Spurs haven’t changed much from last year. The Thunder added stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to league MVP Russell Westbrook in what might only be a one-year experiment. The Rockets traded for Clippers star point guard Chris Paul, but missed out on Anthony, and Minnesota dealt for Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler.
Without Paul, the Clippers are now +12500 to win their first NBA title, and rebuilding Chicago – a playoff team in 2016-17 – is tied as the longest shot in the league at +100000 with Atlanta (also a playoff club last season but tanking like the Bulls), Brooklyn and Orlando.
And the Philadelphia 76ers, hoping to finally be done with their rebuild, find themselves in the middle of the pack on the title odds at +6600. The Sixers will have vaunted rookies Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons, both contenders on the Rookie of the Year odds at the sportsbooks, on the floor this year.