NBA Futures: Predicting a Champion

Lebron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving

NBA futures can be a challenging, yet fun task.It gives bettors a chance to predict what will happen in the upcoming season.

Unlike in other sports where it feels like there are many teams that can win the championship come seasons end, the NBA feels pretty cut and dry with a handful of legitimate contenders. Typically a team will make a progression over a few season where they advance further and further in the playoffs and eventually win a NBA Title. There are a few teams with longer odds that have the potential if things break right for them.

(All odds per Bovada)

Head of the Class

Cleveland Cavaliers (5/2)

The return of the King has vaulted the Cavaliers to the top of NBA teams likely to win a NBA Title. Along with Lebron’s home coming, the Cavs were able to bring Kevin Love to Cleveland from Minnesota. The trio of Lebron, Love and Kyrie Irving seems like an impressive core. Lebron is the best player on the planet and i will never count him out, however the odds are way too short for me consider the Cavs as a team I would bet on. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are both players that have spent as much time on the injury report as they have on the basketball court. Neither Irving nor Love have any playoff experience, which makes me more hesitant to buy in on this team. Im not saying I don’t think this team will be strong and I believe they will represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, which at ⅘ odds, seems like what most are thinking, but I don’t see a championship season in the cards. This team feels like the 2010 Miami Heat that reached the Finals but lost to the Dallas Mavericks. That team had a core with playoff experience and a team with championship rings.

San Antonio Spurs (7/2)

The never sexy, yet always strong San Antonio Spurs are the defending champions. The have not won less than 50 games in the Popovich/Duncan era and there is no reason why that won’t do that again this season. They were impressive in a dismantling of the of the Miami Heat. The Spurs should be the favorite, but at 3.5/1 the odds aren’t worth the gamble. This team has their core on the backside of their careers. Injuries to Duncan, Parker, or Ginobili, especially late in the season would hurt their chances of winning it all.

Oklahoma City Thunder (7/1)

The Oklahoma City Thunder are the team i would go all in on. At 7/1, the odds are good enough to jump on and have a real shot at being the champions. A Kevin Durant foot injury that will sideline him early in the season, makes this number way higher than than it should be. Russell Westbrook will carry this team until Kevin Durant comes back. They will be in a great spot come playoff time and be where they need to be come april/may. After the NBA All-Star break, the Thunder will 2/1 or 3/1 to win the NBA Title. The Thunder are my best bet.

 

Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Within Arms Reach

Chicago Bulls (11/2)

The Chicago Bulls have better odds of winning the Larry O’brien Trophy than the Oklahoma City Thunder, yet I have them a tier below the Heads of the Class tier. The biggest question for the Bulls is the health of Derrick Rose. If he can stay healthy and return to 80% of what he was before the injuries, the Bulls can be a title team. The Bulls added a ton of depth and shooting this off season which should help the Bulls keep their starters healthy including Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, and Doug McDermott. This team feels very similar to what they have been in previous seasons. They will be a very good team that competes on a nightly basis and is a top 3 seed in the East and will go deep into the playoffs. They have an easier path to a title, coming out of the Eastern Conference with the Cavs being their biggest obstacles but the questions are too hard to ignore.

Golden State Warriors (20/1)

The Golden State Warriors are another team that has pieces to be highly competitive that for a couple of reasons are more likely to watching the NBA Finals then playing in the NBA Finals. Health will be a concern for the Warriors. Andrew Bogut brings a defensive presence they simply do not have when he misses time. The have a rookie head coach in Steve Kerr that has a challenge in front of him. He needs to figure out how Harrison Barnes fits into this team. If he is a starter with Andre Igoudala or David Lee coming off the bench or if he can be a 6th man of the year type contributor. The best move may be to move Barnes for two complementary pieces that can fill roles. A defensive minded big that can spell Bogut or fill his shoes when he misses time seems ideal. Larry Sanders comes to mind as a perfect fit. The Warriors are a piece or two away in my mind and a trade before the deadline could change that come playoff time.

Los Angeles Clippers (8/1)

The Donald Sterling situation could not have come at a worse time for a Clippers team that seemed to be rolling last season. Of the three teams in this tier, the Clippers standout to me as having the players and coach to win a title despite having to come out of a very difficult Western Conference. Blake Griffin took a huge step forward last season when Chris Paul missed some time. If he can continue his progression and the pieces around he and CP3 can come together this team could be very dangerous come April.

 

Bradley Beal and John Wall

(Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Dark Horse Candidates

Washington Wizards (33/1)

This team is likely a season or two away from being a true NBA title contender but they have the pieces in place to try and force their way in a season or two early, much like the Thunder did in 2012. While they do not have a Kevin Durant, but they do have Bradley Beal who is a star in the making next to John Wall who continues to improve and work towards being among the NBA’s best point guards. I love the Paul Pierce addition for this team. Not only can he fill some of the role vacated by Trevor Ariza, but he has won a championship. He can be the veteran leader to show this team how to win beyond the regular season. Assuming Nene and Marcin Gortat can stay on the floor, the Wizards will be in the mix come season end.

Memphis Grizzlies (50/1)

The Memphis Grizzlies had the best record in the NBA from the point Marc Gasol returned last season and if not for a bone head move by Zach Randolph against the Oklahoma City Thunder, they may have advanced to play the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. This team is never sexy and play a more traditional offense but at 50/1 this is worth taking a hard look at. The Western Conference is very tough and health will be a must for this team but they have a team that has the talent and playoff experience to make a legitimate NBA Finals run. They are also a team that tends to give the Spurs some of their stiffest competition, who could be the obstacle that stands in the way of a Finals appearance.

Odds to win 2015 NBA Championship

Cleveland Cavaliers 5/2

San Antonio Spurs 7/2

Chicago Bulls 11/2

Oklahoma City Thunder 7/1

Los Angeles Clippers 8/1

Dallas Mavericks 20/1

Golden State Warriors 20/1

Houston Rockets 20/1

Washington Wizards 33/1

Portland Trail Blazers 40/1

Memphis Grizzlies 50/1

Miami Heat 50/1

New York Knicks 50/1

Toronto Raptors 50/1

Brooklyn Nets 66/1

Charlotte Hornets 66/1

Indiana Pacers 66/1

Los Angeles Lakers 66/1

Atlanta Hawks 100/1

Denver Nuggetts 100/1

New Orleans Pelicans 100/1

Phoenix Suns 100/1

Boston Celtics 200/1

Detroit Pistons 200/1

Orlando Magic 200/1

Sacramento Kings 250/1

Milwaukee Bucks 300/1

Minnesota Timberwolves 300/1

Utah Jazz 300/1

Philadelphia 76ers 500/1

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