Odds to win the 2019 NBA Championship
As the NBA season crosses the 30-game mark, now is a good time to revisit NBA Finals futures. While the Golden State Warriors remain the favourites, the biggest challengers to Golden State’s reign have changed up a bit since October. The Toronto Raptors have moved up to second on the futures, and some new contenders have emerged as the most difficult teams for the Golden State Warriors if the playoffs start today.
NBA Finals Odds Update
- Golden State still the favourite at -182 (down from -222 in October)
- Toronto Raptors second now at +600 (up from +1300) in October
- Houston Rockets still at +1100, despite a slow start
- Clippers (+10000) and Grizzles (+15000) still long shots despite hot starts
- Lakers +2000, but not the biggest threat in the West to the Warriors
Two months into the NBA season, the best teams and bets to win the NBA Finals have emerged. Of course, going back to our preseason predictions shows the same team remains a heavy favourite, even if they are on pace to win their fewest games in the last five seasons.
Favourite – Golden State Warriors -182
Until otherwise proven, the Golden State Warriors are the best team in the NBA and the best bet to win their fourth title in five years. Although they are not as deep as they have been in the past, their starting lineup is still the best in the NBA. The depth will improve once Boogie Cousins returns from injury and they work him into the rotation.
Player health is the biggest concern for the Warriors. Steph Curry missed ten games this season. During the games Curry missed, the Warriors went 4-6, with two of those losses coming by more than 21 points.
Still, the Warriors are the best team in the NBA and until they either break up or collapse internally, betting against the dynasty to end is not recommended.
Pick: Golden State Warriors (-182) to Win the NBA Championship
Biggest Challengers – Toronto Raptors +600
Through the first 30 games or so of the NBA season, the team with the best record is the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors have done an excellent job integrating Kawhi Leonard, while also giving the superstar time off to remain healthy.
While most teams would struggle to win the majority of their games without their best player, the Toronto Raptors have excellent depth.
While Kawhi is their best player, the growth of Pascal Siakim this season is one of the biggest reasons for Toronto’s success. The third-year player is blossoming into one of the better young players in the league. Siakim is a capable two-way player with excellent length and a great spin move by the basketball. If he can continually contribute 15 points per game, the Raptors may have enough secondary offence with him and Lowry to contend.
Pick: Toronto Raptors (+145) to Win Eastern Conference
Best Underdogs – Oklahoma City Thunder +3300 Denver Nuggets +4000
At the start of the NBA season, the two biggest threats in the Western Conference to the Golden State Warriors were the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz. With both those teams struggling (and sitting outside the playoffs as of December 18, 2018), it is time to look elsewhere for challengers to Golden State, which leads us to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets.
“Both the Thunder and Nuggets rank in the top-five for overall defence this season.”
The Thunder have more prominent names, with Russell Westbrook and Paul George, each having all-star seasons. In fact, George is averaging career highs in points, rebounds and assists. The chemistry between the two is also much-improved this season. Add in Dennis Schroder doing an excellent job spelling Westbrook (and occasionally playing alongside him), and the Thunder are much better than they were at the same point last season.
Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder (+3300) to win the NBA Finals
The Nuggets have a bit more depth with five players averaging 13.8 points or more. Nikola Jokic is one of the best big men in the game, and Canadian Jamal Murray is continuing to show significant improvements in his third season. Millsap needs to stay healthy to anchor their defence. If Millsap can play out the season, Jokic and the Nuggets should be fresh for the postseason.
Pick: Denver Nuggets (+4000) to Win NBA Finals
Pump the Breaks – Milwaukee Bucks +2000
While the Milwaukee Bucks have the frontrunner for MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo, they do not have enough depth around him to contender against the best teams. Khris Middleton has developed into a reliable secondary-scorer, but most teams will be happy to let him, Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon beat them (while they focus on trying to stop Giannis).
The Bucks can still make a move to add some more depth, likely a three-and-d style player to open the floor up and improve their 3-pt % (which at 35.00% on the year is slightly below league average). Until then, they have less depth then the Raptors and Boston Celtics.
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