Oddsmakers are tabbing the Golden State Warriors as the favorite to win their third NBA championship in a row, while the rest of the field is pegged to where LeBron James decides to play next season.
The Warriors are +125 favorites on the 2019 NBA championship odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Golden State’s latest title was capped off by sweeping the James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, but getting to that stage was by no means a sure thing as it had to defeat the Houston Rockets in Game 7 on the road in the Western Conference Finals.
Nevertheless, with the star quartet of guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and forwards Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson locked into place, the Warriors look as unsurpassable as ever. Despite Curry and Durant missing chunks of last season with injuries, the Warriors have still averaged 66 regular-season wins over the last four years.
James is expected to leave the Cavaliers by opting out of his contract, which for futures betting purposes at this point means that one team is significantly undervalued. One other scenario that is floating around involves James foregoing free agency and setting up a trade to the Houston Rockets (+500), where he could team up with guards Chris Paul and James Harden to join the team that had the NBA’s best regular-season record.
However, the Los Angeles Lakers (+700) are considered the front-runner to sign James as a free agent. Going to California offers him a chance to consolidate basketball and business interests, while the Lakers also have the salary-cap flexibility to add other stars and give James a strong enough supporting cast to challenge Golden State.
The Philadelphia 76ers (+500), with their young nucleus that includes center Joel Embiid and forward Ben Simmons, are also expected to make a pitch to James. As an Eastern Conference team, the 76ers also offer the benefit of not having to see the Warriors before the NBA Finals. There has been scant report of James having interest in the Boston Celtics (+600), whose betting value likely rests in Eastern Conference champion betting futures.
As the NBA Finals, and even the previous playoff rounds revealed, the Cavaliers (+2500) don’t have the pieces to win another championship, so it’s probably best to fade them. Other longer shots on the odds to win the NBA championship in the season ahead include the San Antonio Spurs (+2500), Miami Heat (+4000) and Toronto Raptors (+6600).
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