2019 NBA Championship Odds: Will the Golden State Warriors Threepeat?
The 2018 NBA season has finally come to a close. At the end of it all, we got the same result that we got in 2015 and 2017: a Golden State Warriors championship. The Warriors were able to earn their first sweep of the Finals when they disposed of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 4 games. The Cavs gave it an inspired run, but the talent discrepancy was ultimately too much to overcome.
This marked the fourth consecutive year in which the Warriors and the Cavs have done battle in the NBA’s championship round. The Dubs hold a 3-1 edge over the Cavs during that stretch, but it’s looking as though the summer ahead is going to shake things up. The most notable storyline to follow will be LeBron James’ free agency saga. James is almost sure to opt out of his current deal, which will make him an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
James has said in the past that he wants to finish his career with the Cavs, but an awful lot has happened since he first made those comments. Kyrie Irving forced a trade to Boston, while the Cavs’ owner, Dan Gilbert, made the curious decision not to renew the contract of general manager David Griffin. James’ relationship with Gilbert has also remained icy over the years.
First, let’s get to the odds. BetOnline wasted no time in posting the odds for each of the 30 teams and their 2019 title hopes. Things will change over the summer, but here is the list just a few days after the conclusion of the ‘18 Finals.
- Golden State Warriors +120
- Houston Rockets +450
- Philadelphia 76ers +500
- Boston Celtics +650
- Los Angeles Lakers +1400
- San Antonio Spurs +1400
- Cleveland Cavaliers +2500
- Miami Heat +5000
- New Orleans Pelicans +5000
- Toronto Raptors +5000
- Oklahoma City Thunder +5000
- Utah Jazz +7500
- Indiana Pacers +7500
- Los Angeles Clippers +7500
- Milwaukee Bucks +7500
- Minnesota Timberwolves +7500
- Portland Trail Blazers +7500
- Denver Nuggets +10000
- New York Knicks +10000
- Washington Wizards +10000
- Detroit Pistons +25000
- Brooklyn Nets +25000
- Charlotte Hornets +25000
- Chicago Bulls +25000
- Dallas Mavericks +25000
- Memphis Grizzlies +25000
- Phoenix Suns +25000
- Sacramento Kings +25000
- Atlanta Hawks +30000
- Orlando Magic +50000
Warriors *Shockingly* Favored
The Golden State Warriors, arguably the greatest team in the history of the game, are favored to win the title again next season? Who could’ve seen that coming?
Golden State faced a tricky summer a year ago when a number of key players, – Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala – hit the free agent market. They wound up keeping all 4, of course, with Durant helping facilitate things by taking a massive discount on a deal to stick around.
Durant has the ability to become a free agent again this summer, and he likely will. While some have openly wondered whether he might want to leave now that he has already accomplished so much in 2 years with the Warriors, but Durant said after winning Finals MVP for a second time running that he this summer. So, even if he opts out of his deal, expect him to sign a new one.
There’s even a chance the Warriors are able to upgrade the talent around their core 4. There are a number of sharpshooters set to be available on the free agent market, and there’s at least a chance the Dubs can convince one of them to join their squad. J.J. Redick and Trevor Ariza are a couple of interesting fits that jump out immediately.
As long as Durant, Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are around, this team will be favored. There is actually a little profit potential on them here at +120, so it’s not a bad time to throw down a bet on Golden State if you think they keep the team together this summer.
LeBron Shapes the Odds
Based on their current rosters, there are some teams on the list with better championship odds than you would think. The Lakers have the same odds to win the 2019 title as the Spurs, for example. Based on the current makeup of their respective rosters, this is completely insane. The Miami Heat have the same odds as the team that finished the regular season as the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors.
The Lakers and Heat have such favorable odds because the oddsmakers evidently believe there’s a decent chance one of these teams winds up signing LeBron or another big-name free agent this summer. Paul George is another name that has been linked with the Lakers forever. Obviously, adding one or both players improves the Lakers’ title prospects immensely and immediately.
If LeBron leaves the Cavs as most expect he will, Cleveland will also see a precipitous drop from their current +2500 price.
The Warriors are likely to remain favorites , but if he takes his talents to Houston, we could see Golden State take a hit. The Rockets already have the second-best odds as currently constructed, and adding James would obviously close the gap on the Warriors. LeBron joining Houston would also deal a blow to other Western Conference contenders like the Spurs, Jazz, Pelicans and Thunder.
It may sound silly to say whichever team lands LeBron will instantly become second favorites behind Golden State. In reality, that would only be true for a handful of teams. If the Sixers or Celtics managed to lure James, those teams would surely leapfrog Houston for the No. 2 spot. If James went to the Lakers or Heat, however, the Rockets would likely remain the team with the next-best odds behind Golden State, assuming they’re able to keep their roster together.
What About the Other Free Agents?
While it may seem as though LeBron is the only star set to hit the market this summer, that isn’t the case. We will also see DeMarcus Cousins, Chris Paul, Paul George, Kevin Durant, Clint Capela, DeAndre Jordan and a host of others hosting free agency meetings.
Durant seems a lock to stay with the Warriors, while most expect CP3 to stick with the Rockets. Because he’s coming off a devastating Achilles injury, Cousins also looks likely to remain in New Orleans. The others are more of wild cards, though. PG13 will be the second-most sought-after name out there, and, while the Lakers are the rumored frontrunner, they won’t be the only team after him.
If the Rockets strike out with James, there’s always the potential they could set their sights on the next-best thing in George. Houston is also at risk of losing a few key players, including Ariza and Capela. Capela, a restricted free agent, will almost surely sign a massive offer sheet that will be complicated for the Rockets to match. Houston would obviously hate to lose their prized young center, but if a team puts a poison pill in there, the Rockets may wind up losing him. Seeing Capela leave would hamper their odds, for sure.
The here at +650. Boston was a game away from the NBA Finals this past season despite playing the entire season without Gordon Hayward and the entire playoffs without Kyrie Irving. Considering these are probably the team’s 2 best players and franchise cornerstones, there is reason to believe the Celts will be an even more formidable team heading into next year.
The 76ers will be a trendy pick regardless of whether they’re able to lure James. The young trio of Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons captured the imagination of fans everywhere last season despite their rather disappointing second-round exit in the playoffs. Simmons and Embiid look like potential superstars, while Fultz turned in some decent efforts late in his injury-riddled rookie campaign.
The NBA is Still Top-Heavy
Regardless of what happens this summer, the 2018-19 championship still runs through Oakland. The Warriors will enter the season as the favorites, and there will only be a handful of viable contenders below them. The Rockets, 76ers and Celtics top the list, and the odds drop off considerably after that, and with good reason.
One potential wild card is the Spurs, who just endured a season in which their franchise player, Kawhi Leonard, played just 9 games. There hasn’t been much news on Leonard’s status in recent weeks, but the Spurs still seem to expect him to return next season. If they have a fully healthy Kawhi Leonard ready to roll, we can group San Antonio in with the other contenders a tier south of Golden State.
It’s still far too early to analyze how the rest of the league will shake out considering the bevy of roster moves expected to come down the pike. The draft will take place in just a few weeks, and it will be interesting to see how the league’s worst teams are able to help reshape their respective rosters.
The free agency frenzy will follow, and all eyes will be on King James. If his goal is to dethrone the Warriors once again, we should see him in a new uniform next season.