NBA Championship Odds: How Kyrie Irving Impacts Brooklyn's Chances

How do recent updates on the Klay Thompson and Kyrie Irving situations impact the NBA championship race? Who in the top five are impacted and does it create any added value for bettors?
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NBA Championship Odds: How Kyrie Irving Impacts Brooklyn's Chances

Two major pieces of news from the past few days had the potential to greatly impact the odds of the two favorites to cut down the nets in June for the NBA championship.

First, we learned the Nets are in the process of bringing back Kyrie Irving in a part-time role to play only in road games or games outside of New York. Second, we learned that Klay Thompson will not debut on Christmas Day as was originally intended, but will instead debut sometime in January. How do these two revelations affect the odds of the top-five contenders? Let’s dig in and find out.

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Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz (+1100, Last Week: Lakers +1200)

The Jazz now accompany the Lakers for the fifth spot according to oddsmakers. This may be more indicative of what type of chances Los Angeles has to win than the slight shortening from +1200 to +1100.

With Anthony Davis out for at least four weeks, the Lakers will have another uphill battle to gain a high seed in the Western Conference playoff picture. On Sunday the Lakers allowed the Bulls' frontcourt to combine for 57 points and 17 rebounds in what may be a first glimpse of how they struggle in the post moving forward.

The Jazz, meanwhile, are 8-2 in their last 10 and now are at full strength and playing incredible basketball. They are now the leading scoring team in the West (115.6 points per game) and also have the largest point differential per game in the conference. If not for how dominant the Suns and Warriors are presently, the Jazz would be a place to throw some speculative bets.

Phoenix Suns (+900, Last Week: +1100)

Phoenix just keeps climbing this list, going from unranked three weeks ago to +1100 to +900 and gaining on the Milwaukee Bucks. Devin Booker returned to a full allotment of minutes on Sunday (or was at least on pace to if not for the 30-point blowout of the Hornets) so the battle with the Warriors for Western supremacy can resume.

They are now a half-game ahead of the Warriors in the standings and it's only a matter of time until they pass the Bucks on this odds list. As we inch towards the halfway point of the season, and the Suns show no signs of slowing down, it will be interesting to see how close they make it to the Warriors or even if they tie the Warriors in the weeks to come.

Public betting interest surely will side with the Warriors in that scenario so expect the Suns' odds to stay reasonably in front or behind Golden State moving forward.

Milwaukee Bucks (+800, Last Week: +800)

The odds for the Bucks haven’t moved for a month, so they have officially settled in to their spot for the foreseeable future. The pieces they are still missing are somewhat ancillary, although Brook Lopez provides an extra layer of defensive presence in the frontcourt that might make a small impact to oddsmakers.

I do think there is a case for the Suns passing them in the weeks to come, as they have seen their odds rapidly shortening and they are now back to full strength with Devin Booker returning on Sunday. But if that causes the Bucks' odds to fall, I still see them as better value than the Nets as we enter 2021. The Bucks may not have homecourt advantage over the Nets in the playoffs, but I think the totality of the Milwaukee roster is stronger.

Golden State Warriors (+600, Last Week: +600)

All of NBA fandom had hoped for Klay Thompson's triumphant return for the Christmas Day game against the super-rival Phoenix Suns in a "We're both finally healthy" battle for the West's top spot.

We will have to wait a bit longer for that matchup, but a delay for Thompson doesn't move the needle for oddsmakers. Frankly, at this point, why should it? The Warriors have been so dominating over the past two months, how much better can it get? What impact can Thompson have to help them go better than 24-6 over their next 30 games.

I do imagine that once the full squad is together and oddsmakers are convinced that the team running on all cylinders, their line will shorten to closer to the Brooklyn level. But for now we wait and continue to pound bets on the league's only team in the top five of both offensive and defensive rating.

Brooklyn Nets (+275, Last Week: +300)

Dealing with an unprecedented COVID outbreak on their team, the Brooklyn Nets announced last week they are taking steps to bring back Kyrie Irving as a part-time player who would suit up for the Nets on road games or games outside of New York. Irving, who is unvaccinated, is not allowed to play in New York and would not be allowed in the Nets' or Knicks' buildings until that changes.

What this news did is ever so slightly shorten the odds of the presumed favorites to win this summer's championship. Irving - undeniably - is a great player, even if he is a basket case at times.

The Nets now have a comfortable two-game lead in the conference with no other team making a strong push to want to challenge them for the top spot in the conference. If Irving comes back and helps contribute to a couple of extra wins down the stretch, that could be the difference in the Nets advancing all the way to the championship round.

In terms of pure Eastern Conference value, I still feel the Bucks offer more of it, but if Irving is back in the fold and Kevin Durant continues on his torrid pace, it's hard to see the Nets not making the Finals.

NBA Championship Odds

Brooklyn Nets+275
Golden State Warriors+600
Milwaukee Bucks+800
Phoenix Suns+900
Los Angeles Lakers+1100
Utah Jazz+1100
Miami Heat+1600

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Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.


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