If the Golden State Warriors can be taken down, chances are it might come from within the NBA’s cutthroat Western Conference. With the season due to tip off in a couple weeks, Golden State is the -160 favorite on the odds to win the NBA championship at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The Warriors have dominated the league for three seasons running with nary a hiccup, save for their breakdown at the end of the 2016 postseason when they lost a seven-game NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James.
This past NBA offseason was all about superstars maneuvering to join Western Conference teams in order to try to take the fight to the Warriors more directly. As a result of their moves to add Carmelo Anthony and Paul George to their forward corps to complement league-MVP point guard Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder (+1200) have seen their price come down precipitously from an opening +6600.
As it stands, more than 10/1 odds on a team which is a favorite to win its division is a pretty good deal.
The San Antonio Spurs, the league’s model of stability, also come in at +1200. The Houston Rockets (+1600) have actually had their price rise in the last three weeks, which might reflect how no one is sure whether newly acquired PG Chris Paul and SG James Harden will be compatible.
Among Eastern Conference teams, Cleveland (+550) is offering good value, since any team which has LeBron James is a solid bet to last at least three rounds in the postseason. One might be able to wait before making a play with the Cavaliers. The need to make sure PG Derrick Rose and PG Dwayne Wade get rest during the season will probably supersede the Cavs’ need to go for a No. 1 seed.
The Boston Celtics (+800) added PG Kyrie Irving (from Cleveland) and SF Gordon Hayward, but one should remember that they were not an overly dominant team last season and their No. 1 playoff seed owed somewhat to being in the Atlantic Division with the likes of the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers.
If none of the contenders near the top of the board pass the eye test, it might be better to take a flyer on some small-market teams with superstar talent. The Minnesota Timberwolves (+2800) are complementing young stars Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns with a supporting cast that includes Jimmy Butler – one of the best two-way wing players any side of Golden State’s Draymond Green – and veterans such as Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague.
The Milwaukee Bucks (+6600) might not be close to winning a title, but the ceiling for a team with a burgeoning superstar in SF Giannis Antetokounmpo, AKA The Greek Freak, is very high. Milwaukee should get a long look for anyone poring over preseason props.