Jump on Sixers, Bulls when SWTs come out

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Congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers on their record-tying 17th NBA championship. The favorites to win it all when the season began last October and the favorites in July when bubble play began fought off a game challenge by the Miami Heat to win this season’s title. 

In their first season together NBA Finals MVP LeBron James and Anthony Davis delivered as hoped for, if not expected, to Lakers Nation. Now we begin to look forward to the 2020-21 season with both an uncertain start date and uncertain logistics amid the uncertainty of COVID-19.

Futures odds have already been released for next season and the two Los Angeles teams are the two overwhelming favorites.  The Lakers are 7-2 and the Clippers 9-2. There’s a drop off to third choice Milwaukee (7-1) with Golden State at 10-1 and the duo of Boston and Brooklyn at 12-1.

I normally don’t get involved this far in advance playing futures of less than 20-1 as so much can happen between now and just the start of next season, much less how the playoffs play out. We don’t know impacts upon teams of trades, free agent signings, the upcoming draft and the greatest uncertainty of all – injuries.

Nonetheless, there are some teams to at least consider for futures play on two fronts.  The first is the traditional futures of winning a conference or NBA title. I’ll discuss the other front shortly.

One team to consider is Philadelphia. The 76ers parted ways with Bret Brown and hired Doc Rivers as his replacement. Rivers has been a winner in Orlando, Boston and with the Clippers and inherits a team that’s made the Playoffs three straight seasons. He might just be what the Sixers need to take that next step and with perhaps one key off-season addition Philly’s 25-1 Title odds are attractive this far in advance.

There are also teams to fade or avoid. However there are not many sportsbooks that offer the opportunity to wager on teams to not win the title or to not make the playoffs.

That’s where the second front to which I alluded earlier comes in. Perhaps a month or so prior to the season, sportsbooks put out Season Win Totals. It’s the principal way to either wager on a team without having that team win a division, conference or NBA title.

But it’s also the way to wager against a team by betting that team under its win total.

Another team that made a coaching change is Brooklyn. The Nets parted ways with Kenny Atkinson prior to the March shutdown. Assistant Jacque Vaughn was named interim coach. But shortly after the Nets were eliminated from the playoffs, Steve Nash was named head coach and Vaughn returned to his role as an assistant. 

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant – the Nets’ two best players – have commented that the Nets don’t really need a coach – the players can get the job done themselves. I sense there will be huge expectations for Brooklyn next season as Durant makes his long- awaited Nets debut. The coaching situation could explode and the Nets might struggle in what is still a competitive Eastern Conference. I’ll be looking to play Under Brooklyn’s Season Wins Total.

Chicago is not expected to be a playoff contender next season but I do expect improvement after the Bulls fired Jim Boylen. Unpopular with his players, Boylen was replaced by Billy Donovan who, in a mutual parting of the ways, left Oklahoma City. The Thunder had made the playoffs in each of Donovan’s five seasons, sporting a winning record in each. 

This is a huge upgrade and I’ll play over the Bulls’ Season Win Total with my expectation that it is much more likely Donovan will have Chicago overachieve rather than fall short of expectations.

Enjoy the offseason, even if its length is uncertain. 

Last week: 0-1

Final season record: 42-35-3

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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