Although the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers shook up the NBA landscape with their blockbuster deal at the trade deadline, neither is favored on NBA futures oddsboards to keep the championship in the Eastern Conference as action resumes Thursday following the All-Star break.
Depending which sportsbook you’re looking at, either the Golden State Warriors or Phoenix Suns have been placed in the favorite’s role.
At Circa Sports, Phoenix, despite missing Chris Paul for several weeks, gets the nod at +415, while Golden State is at +450. The Nets are favored to win the East (+246) and are +522 to win the NBA Finals.
The Westgate SuperBook has the Warriors listed at +400, the Suns at +450, and the Nets at +600 (+275 to win East).
Popular online books are also torn on which Pacific Division squad should be favored. DraftKings has the Dubs and Suns as co-favorites (+425). FanDuel does the same, offering both at +410. BetRivers lists them each at +400. BetMGM offers the slight edge to the Warriors (+425) over Phoenix (+450).
“Mostly it just comes down to a lot more has been bet on the Suns, and the Suns have the best record in the league by a comfortable margin, so they would likely have homecourt advantage in a playoff series,” Dylan Sullivan, Circa’s primary manager of NBA markets, said of his book’s stance. “Things could change pretty quickly as Golden State is finally getting back to full strength, and Chris Paul is going to be out for a while and possibly not (be) 100 percent when the playoffs start.”
Suns or Warriors: Who Should Be Favored In NBA Futures Odds?
In terms of who should be the betting favorite, there’s a split between Phoenix and Golden State, and it’s a fun question to ponder given how wide open the championship landscape looks. The Suns have been the most consistent team in racking up 48 wins through the first 58 games, but that consistency will be tested with their stabilizing force out of the mix for the next six to eight weeks. A broken thumb Paul wants to ensure he’s completely healed from by May means we probably won’t see the Suns point guard until the final week of the regular season at the earliest, since he’ll want to knock off some rust before the games truly count.
The Suns have a healthy lead of 6.5 games on the Warriors with 23-24 games remaining, so they’ll really have to slump without Paul to be caught from behind. Phoenix is hoping Cameron Payne returns from a wrist sprain within the next week to soften the blow of their captain’s absence, and the team can also lean on Elfrid Payton to run the show, but what we’re really going to find out over the next couple of months is how Devin Booker handles being the primary catalyst again.
The lone meeting remaining between Golden State and Phoenix is in San Francisco on March 30, when the Warriors have an opportunity to claim the season series 3-1 and will almost certainly be favored to win at home.
Even though they’ll likely be back at full strength by that point with Draymond Green and James Wiseman expected to return to the lineup, the Warriors’ schedule looks tough enough to where they’ll be unlikely to put together a win streak substantial enough to overcome the Suns.
Lakers A Pass, Nuggets Legit Longshots
The Jazz, Grizzlies, Nuggets, Mavericks, and Lakers are next on the pecking order at most bet shops. Utah (priced at odds between +1600 to +2200) is the third choice out West anywhere you look, while Memphis is mostly available at +2500. Denver is in the +3000 to +3500, and the Lakers are available anywhere from +4000 to +5000.
While there’s no doubt getting a team led by a healthy LeBron James as high as 50-to-1 is worth a second look, you should save your money. LeBron complaining about L.A.’s lack of activity at the trade deadline is a dead giveaway he doesn’t feel there’s enough on the roster to make a real run. Anthony Davis won’t play until at least mid-March due to an ankle sprain and will likely be out longer than that, making it improbable for the Lakers to avoid the play-in round among the West’s Nos. 7-10 seeds, making the road to an NBA Finals all the more perilous.
Russell Westbrook isn’t going to develop a reliable jump shot between now and June. Davis faces the burden of finding a rhythm after working his way back, and the 37-year-old James won’t be able to rest ahead of the postseason, as has been his preference throughout his career.
Another variable worth watching is Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray’s return from ACL surgery, which will likely come at some point in late March or early April. Michael Porter Jr. is also nearing a return from back surgery. While reigning MVP Nikola Jokic has proven he can be a handful in a series, getting those guys back to performing at a playoff level will become a race against time but is a better investment than the Lakers if you’re looking for a Western Conference longshot.
Denver is in the +1400 to +1600 range to win the West while favored Golden State and Phoenix are right around the +175 range.
Scramble In The East
The East is an even tougher handicap since we haven’t seen the 76ers with James Harden working alongside Joel Embiid. Harden is averaging 10.2 assists per game this season and will likely have no problem assuming a pass-first role.
Kevin Durant (29.3 ppg) is hoping to come back soon after play resumes since his rehab from a knee injury is nearly complete. The former Finals MVP will team with Ben Simmons at some point in March, and Brooklyn is poised to ascend to the role of favorite to win the title if it’s able to show the pieces assembled can work together.
Kyrie Irving will play in only eight of the Nets’ remaining regular-season games unless the mask mandate in New York City is lifted and he’s able to participate in more than just road contests, so that’s another factor that could swing odds in Brooklyn’s favor. The arrival of Seth Curry and Andre Drummond from Philadelphia helped the new-look team snap a double-digit losing streak and seemed to stabilize them prior to the All-Star break. Even though the workload will intensify down the stretch due to a strong schedule, it feels like their freefall has ended. Brooklyn also won the Goran Dragic sweepstakes, adding the veteran point guard as insurance for the Irving situation.
Defending champion Milwaukee (+600 to +700) added Serge Ibaka prior to the trade deadline and is still hoping to add one more wing to the equation. With Giannis Antetokounmpo never more productive, the Bucks are a threat to repeat, but the East is loaded with contenders.
The Heat also promise to be tough out and will go all out to earn homecourt advantage, but the odds disparity between Miami (+1000) and Chicago (+2500 to +3000) seems ridiculous. The Bulls are likely to get Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and Patrick Williams back over the next months and added a competent backup center in the buyout market in Tristan Thompson.
Although the Heat are more battle-tested since they reached the Finals in the bubble two seasons ago, the Bulls have veteran talent leading the way in DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic that isn’t likely to shrink. Like the Nuggets out West, Chicago is the best longshot most likely to surprise.
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