A little over two months after the Los Angeles Lakers were crowned 2019-20 NBA champions, the 2020-21 NBA season is ready to tip off.
The Lakers are favored to repeat as champions, but there is a host of hopeful contenders. The Western Conference is loaded yet again. The Eastern Conference should be highly competitive and could be even stronger if Houston Rockets star James Harden gets his wish and is traded to an East contender.
Here’s a look at what to expect and consider for all 30 teams, listed in order of their odds to win the NBA title from BetOnline.
Los Angeles Lakers (+250)
The Lakers are favored to repeat for good reason. LeBron doesn’t look like slowing down heading into his 18th NBA season, and Anthony Davis is coming off of a monster postseason. In addition, they strengthened the squad by trading for Oklahoma City guard Dennis Schroder and adding Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell from the rival Clippers. It will take a lot to knock them off of the top.
Betting advice: Over 47.5 wins (-115) is a solid bet.
Brooklyn Nets (+650)
The Nets are expected to make major noise with Kevin Durant healthy and joining up with Kyrie Irving. Even if they don’t add Harden, the Nets should still be one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams in Steve Nash’s coaching debut. Nash is a +800 favorite to win Coach of the Year, but he will have to get the best out of his stars.
Milwaukee Bucks (+675)
Playoff disappointment has befallen the Bucks each of the last two seasons. Have they missed their window? Not yet. Giannis Antetokounmpo will be gunning for a third straight MVP — he is +500 to do so — as well as his first title. The Bucks swapped out Eric Bledsoe for Jrue Holiday and added DJ Augustin, a career 38 percent three-point shooter.
Los Angeles Clippers (+675)
After a stunning playoff exit, former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue took over, with Doc Rivers heading to Philadelphia. The Clippers lost Harrell but added Serge Ibaka. The onus will be on Paul George to produce when it counts.
Betting Advice: Over 46.5 wins (-115) is well within reach after Kawhi, PG, and company posted 49 wins in 72 games last season.
Philadelphia 76ers (+1400)
The 76ers are another Harden hopeful, but even without him, they could benefit from lowered expectations due to the Nets and Bucks garnering more headlines. What can Doc Rivers get out of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons? Danny Green and Seth Curry make them a more dangerous team from outside.
Betting Advice: Simmons may or may not score more, but for him to average over 7.5 rebounds per game (-145) should be easy money, as he averaged 8.1, 8.8, and 7.8 in his first three seasons. Over 8.5 assists per game (-115) could be as well, as the Sixers should be more potent offensively with their new shooters and a system that fits their personnel.
Boston Celtics (+1800)
What is the Celtics’ ceiling this season? Jayson Tatum is set to take another leap, and the rest of the core remains, sans Gordon Hayward, who left for Charlotte. The addition of Tristan Thompson is a good move, as he should average a double-double.
Betting Advice: It would be dangerous to write this team off, even in one of the league’s strongest divisions. The right trade could catapult them into the tier with the Bucks and Nets. For now though, tread with caution with their win total (O/U 44.5).
Miami Heat (+1800)
What will the Heat do to follow their Finals run? Their odds would improve markedly with Harden. The Heat are strong favorites to win the Southeast Division at -300, but as it stands, they are behind the Nets, Bucks, and Celtics in the East.
Dallas Mavericks (+2000)
Luka Doncic averaged 28.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game in his second season and won’t be 22 until February. How good can he be this season? It could land him the MVP, which he is a +325 favorite to win, but he’ll need a monster season, more consistency from outside, and major supporting contributions for a serious title push. This team will be fun to watch.
Denver Nuggets (+2000)
The Nuggets’ core should be in place for years to come, led by Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, who averaged 26.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game in the run to the Western Conference Finals. Their only player above 30 is veteran forward Paul Millsap, so the future is bright. They are even-money favorites to win a third straight Northwest Division title, so the present is bright too.
Golden State Warriors (+2500)
Prior to losing Klay Thompson for a second straight season, the Warriors were expected to seriously contend. With a healthy Stephen Curry and big man James Wiseman added through the draft, a run can’t be counted out. O/U 38.5 wins reflects the limits on their likely potential without Klay.
Betting Advice: A key for the Warriors is how Andrew Wiggins fares as a primary scoring option alongside Curry. Wiggins to average over 19.5 (EVEN) is worth a look, as he should get plenty of shots up.
Toronto Raptors (+2800)
The Raptors, who will be playing in Tampa this season due to COVID, still have the likes of Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, and Fred VanVleet from their title-winning team, but they appear to be behind the Nets, Celtics, and perhaps the 76ers in the Atlantic Division. But it is wise to not overlook the Raptors at +350 for a fourth straight division title with the core they have.
Phoenix Suns (+4000)
After just missing out on the postseason after an undefeated run in the bubble, there is a ton of anticipation around the Suns. Devin Booker was on fire in the bubble, and the best is yet to come for he and big man Deandre Ayton, who averaged 18.2 points and 11.5 rebounds per game in his second season.
Betting Advice: The Suns added Chris Paul and Jae Crowder to add some veteran experience, which should see them return to the postseason for the first time since 2010. -150 odds to make the playoffs matches that assessment.
Portland Trail Blazers (+4000)
Damian Lillard should challenge for the scoring title. The Blazers could make a push for fourth or fifth, but they are more likely to land in the lower seeds. Enes Kanter and Robert Covington are solid, experienced additions but not enough to push the Blazers past the Nuggets in the Northwest Division, where they are +333 to take top spot.
Utah Jazz (+4000)
The Jazz should once again be solid but not spectacular. It’s tough to see them seriously pushing the Lakers or Clippers with largely the same squad as last season. It will be interesting to see how Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert coexist outside of the bubble after their COVID drama. Gobert’s in a contract year, so expect a monster season.
Betting Advice: Gobert is +375 to be Defensive Player of the Year, +375 to lead the league in blocks, +400 to lead the league in rebounding, EVEN to average more than two blocks per game, and -145 to average over 14.5 points per game. In a contract year with a lot to prove, those are all worth a look.
Houston Rockets (+5000)
These odds will change drastically if Harden gets traded. Either way, the Rockets missed their window for a title. It will be interesting to see how long they choose to hold on to Harden and how John Wall pans out in his return to action. But even if Harden somehow sticks around, expectations should be low for the Rockets under new coach Stephen Silas.
Betting Advice: The Rockets’ win and playoff futures are off of the board until Harden’s future is sorted out. That is understandable given how drastically a trade stands to alter their outlook for the season.
New Orleans Pelicans (+7500)
Stan Van Gundy was hired to turn the Pelicans into a playoff team. Can he achieve that target in year one? A full season of Zion Williamson and breakout star Brandon Ingram (23.8/6.1/4.2), is an exciting prospect.
Betting Advice: Zion to average over 25.5 points per game (+130) is intriguing, given that he will be playing without minutes restrictions. He averaged 22.5 in 27.8 minutes per game in his 24 games last season.
Chicago Bulls (+10000)
The Bulls have upgraded on the bench, with Billy Donovan replacing Jim Boylen. That is more important than any player signing, as Donovan’s player development skills should boost the Bulls’ young roster. If everyone buys in, there could be a push for one of the East’s lower playoff seeds. They are +275 to make the playoffs for now.
Oklahoma City Thunder (+10000)
Another season, more star departures for the Thunder, with Schroder and Steven Adams both now elsewhere. They also have a new coach, as former assistant Mark Daigneault takes over for Billy Donovan.
Betting Advice: Young guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a budding star to build around with their 387 future draft picks, but the ceiling is not high for their current roster. Their win total is set at O/U 22.5, indicating that this is a team in rebuilding mode. Time for some patience for Thunder fans.
Washington Wizards (+10000)
Defensive improvement will be key for the Wizards’ hopes. They were second in the East in scoring last season (114.4 points per game) but next to last in the entire league in points allowed per game (119.1 points per game). Scoring will be plentiful again, especially if lottery pick Deni Avdija can immediately contribute.
Betting Advice: It may not have worked out for Russell Westbrook in Houston, but he’ll be hungry to prove he is still a force and can lead a team. Over 32.5 wins (-150) and -125 to make the playoffs are eye-catching. The starting five should be strong, but can Scott Brooks get enough from the bench?
Atlanta Hawks (+12500)
Expectations are higher for Trae Young and the Hawks, as shown by their wins odds (O/U 36.5). The franchise has drafted well, and that should start to pay off. Rebounding machine Clint Capela will make his Hawks debut and will be joined by offseason acquisitions Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, and Rajon Rondo.
Betting Advice: With more quality depth around him, Young should really flourish. Over 8.5 assists per game (-155) looks like a gimme with more scoring options at his disposal. Lloyd Pierce could be a solid underdog pick for Coach of the Year at +2000.
Indiana Pacers (+12500)
The Pacers return all of their key contributors from last season’s 45-28 team, with the only change of note being one Nate (Bjorkgren) replacing another Nate (McMillan) as coach. The Pacers are like the Jazz of the East, with no indication they are better while others around them are. Are they worse? No, but hitting over 39.5 wins (+100) will be tough.
It’s hard to see the Pacers hanging with the East’s best teams, unless Victor Oladipo returns to his 2017-18 form and bubble star TJ Warren can reprise his bubble heroics over 82 games. A sixth straight first-round exit is likely.
Memphis Grizzlies (+12500)
How well can highlight maker Ja Morant and the young Grizzlies fare in the loaded West? That 28-year-old Jonas Valanciunas is one of the elder statesmen in the squad speaks to just how young this team is. They will do well to improve upon last season’s 34 wins, but over 30.5 wins (-150) is a good target as they should be in the playoff mix.
Minnesota Timberwolves (+15000)
Thoughts go out to Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns, who will be playing with a heavy heart after losing several family members to COVID, including his mother. The trio of Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and first overall pick Anthony Edwards should score a lot, and there should be an improvement in the win column.
Betting Advice: Over 29.5 wins (-115) might be asking too much until they prove they can make enough stops.
Charlotte Hornets (+20000)
Will LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward be able to lead the Hornets back to the postseason? They were last in the league in scoring last season at 102.9 points per game. If the scoring can pick up, a postseason push is a possibility.
Betting Advice: If Malik Monk can unlock his potential, expectations could be exceeded. But there are too many ifs for the +375 odds for them to make the postseason to be a good move yet.
Orlando Magic (+25000)
The Magic return their top five scorers from a playoff team. They are under the radar in the East, but +180 for them to make the playoffs is stellar odds when you consider their returnees, how wide open things are beyond the clear top six in the East, and the addition of dynamic Cole Anthony, who could make an immediate impact.
Sacramento Kings (+25000)
Can the Kings end a playoff drought that dates back to 2006? The West is better around them, but the potential is there. A backcourt that features De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield is even stronger with the addition of Tyrese Haliburton, who may be one of the steals of the draft.
Betting Advice: Inside, Hassan Whiteside is a huge addition, and Marvin Bagley III is healthy. They may miss the playoffs, but it won’t be by much. Over 28.5 wins (-130) is worth backing. Buy in.
San Antonio Spurs (+25000)
You can’t count out the Spurs as long as Gregg Popovich is coach, but the best they can aim for is likely a play-in spot. Over 29.5 wins (-115) is a reasonable target, provided DeMar Derozan does not get traded.
Cleveland Cavaliers (+50000)
The Cavaliers have a promising young group led by Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. They lost Tristan Thompson but added two-time All-Star Andre Drummond and three-time NBA champion Javale McGee inside. Kevin Love is still there, a remaining reminder of their Eastern Conference dominance.
Betting Advice: The playoffs are unlikely, but they should hit over 21.5 wins (-130) after consecutive 19-win seasons.
Detroit Pistons (+50000)
The Pistons have drastically overhauled their roster. Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose do remain. Another finish high inside the lottery is ahead, but the future could be bright with the likes of Killian Hayes.
Betting Advice: Will Griffin and Rose stay, or will they be traded at some point? Either way, there is no reason to expect anything other than under 23.5 wins (-130).
New York Knicks (+50000)
The Knicks have not made the playoffs since 2013 and that run won’t end this season. Even the most optimistic Knicks fan would be wary of backing over 22.5 wins before seeing if new coach Tom Thibodeau can bring about some improvement. But they will be more watchable with Obi Toppin and RJ Barrett. Can Thibodeau make the Knicks an attractive free-agent destination for 2021?
All odds in this article are courtesy of BetOnline.ag.