Despite the effective disbandment of the Golden State Warriors, the NBA remains a top-heavy league in terms of 2020 title contenders.
According to the latest NBA Championship odds here, there is a clear top-three – the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, and L.A. Clippers, in that order.
Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James’ Lakers have been the outright favorites since acquiring Anthony Davis. Their odds have been between +200 and +275 all season, currently sitting at roughly +225, per Odds Shark.
The Lakers have dealt with their issues, especially against other top teams, but they are still a Western Conference-best 40-12 on the season (three games ahead of the field) with a +7.4 point differential (second-best in the league). Tack on the fact that they also have the greatest basketball player of this generation, and it’s hard not to like their chances.
Recent NBA history suggests that you need a proven playoff superstar to win a title (LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, or Steph Curry/Klay Thompson/Kevin Durant has been on one of the previous eight NBA champions).
The Bucks have the second-best odds at +275 and have been trending up. After a disappointing third-round playoff exit at the hands of the Toronto Raptors last season – which saw them lose four straight games – oddsmakers may have had their doubts about the group.
But it’s impossible to ignore what Giannis Antetokounmpo and company are doing right now. They are an NBA-best 46-7, which is 5.5 games better than any other team. Their league-leading +12.5 point differential is more than five points better than the Lakers. It’s also nearly four points better than last season when Milwaukee was a 60-win regular-season juggernaut.
The Bucks are rolling past opponents on a nightly basis. They have only been underdogs once all season, and that was opening night at Houston. They have been favored by at least six points in 21 straight games.
If not for last season’s postseason debacle and the large looming figure cut by LeBron James, this team would be a heavychampionship favorite.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers were right there with the Lakers at the start of the season, opening around +290 thanks to the signing of the reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. They have since fallen to +325 seemingly due to two main reasons.
First, Leonard and fellow superstar offseason acquisition Paul George are struggling to stay on the court, as usual. George has missed 21 games this season, while Leonard has missed 13.
Given that both Leonard and George have significant injury histories, there’s no guarantee this team will be 100 percent during crunch time in the NBA playoffs.
Second, the Clippers just haven’t been quite as good as the Lakers and Bucks. They are a solid 37-16 with a +6.1 point difference. But their record is only good enough for third in the West, so they face the prospect of having to win three series without the benefit of home-court advantage in order to win a title. Their 15-11 road record indicates that’s a tall order.
The Clippers’ ceiling is sky-high, especially with the addition of Marcus Morris at the trade deadline, but they also have questions that the Lakers and Bucks don’t right now.
Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets & Utah Jazz
The best NBA championship odds after the big three belongs to the Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, and Utah Jazz. They are all between +1400 and +2200.
The current odds indicate there’s an 81 percent chance that the Larry O’Brien Trophy winds up in Los Angeles or Milwaukee.