The upside of the Golden State Warriors adding Kevin Durant is that every other contender’s odds on the 2017 NBA champion futures board is just that much more appealing.
Golden State was an unquestioned power prior to signing Durant in July. Although it will take time for the Warriors to figure out how Durant will go from being a focal point to part of a team of stars with two-time MVP Stephen Curry, SG Klay Thompson and SF Draymond Green, the Warriors have the potential to be even more powerful still.
Consequently, Golden State remains better than even money at the top of the board with odds of -125 to win the NBA title at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Of course, the last two series of the 2016 NBA playoffs – where the Warriors first had to overcome a 3-1 deficit against Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, then missed three chances to close out the Cleveland Cavaliers – showed Golden State is not invincible.
LeBron James’ Cavaliers are listed at +300, and their value might not drop too precipitously during the regular season. James and the Cavs don’t emphasize racking up gaudy regular-season win totals. But Cleveland has the chance to be an even better playoff team, depending on how they blend in outside shooter Mike Dunleavy and whether PG Iman Shumpert proves capable with spelling Kyrie Irving.
The San Antonio Spurs at +900 is brow-furrowing. Their path to the NBA Finals likely goes through Golden State, but the Spurs could grind it out in a best-of-seven series. San Antonio never has a bad season, and PF LaMarcus Aldridge has now joined SF Kawhi Leonard in a frontcourt that is solid at each end of the floor.
There is big drop-off from the top three, with the improving Boston Celtics listed at +1800. Boston made major upgrades at two positions by adding C Al Horford and SF Jaylen Brown to a lineup led by PG Isaiah Thomas. The Celtics certainly are capable of challenging the Toronto Raptors (+4000) for top spot in the Atlantic Division.
The Los Angeles Clippers are listed at +2500. With PF Blake Griffin in his contract year, the Clippers’ window to win is very short, but it’s hard to envision how a team which has never put it together in the playoffs suddenly will now that there is the huge distraction of a franchise player leaving.