NBA Championship Odds: Lakers on Life Support
NBA Championship Odds: Lakers on Life Support
Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz (+1200, Last Week: Both +1100)
Let me put it this way. If you gave me 100 free bets and told me I could bet on any NBA team outside of the top four to win the title, I would vote for the Jazz (+1200) and Heat (+1400) 50 times each before I voted for the Lakers.
Lebron may be having the best season ever for a 37-year-old, but it's simply not enough to compensate for the lack of depth, Anthony Davis' injury concerns, Westbrook's lack of defensive ability or the general explosive chemistry this team has. They have lost six of their last seven games, allow the third-most points per game to opponents in the Western Conference, and...oh yeah:
Phoenix Suns (+850, Last Week: +900)
The issue with the Suns presently is they are only 1-2 against the Warriors this season and the one win was a game where Steph Curry shot 4-21 and was a -17 in the plus/minus box score. I don't expect many of those types of performances come playoff time, so they will need to find a way to neutralize him by spring.
Beyond that, the Suns are rolling through the league, tied for the best record at 27-7 and are not fully healthy for the first time in weeks. Only the Warriors allow fewer points per game to opponents in the West and the Suns are now up to third in the league in defensive rating and ninth in offensive rating.
Their main weakness presently is their rebounding as they rank 19th in defensive rebound rate this season and they allow the sixth-most offensive rebounds per game. Those extra possessions can mean the difference between wins and losses in the playoffs, so they need some help for Ayton in that regard.
Milwaukee Bucks (+750, Last Week: +800)
The Bucks' odds finally shortened a bit after remaining stagnant for more than a month. I think oddsmakers were waiting to see how the team came back together after getting healthy, and now they are making their move with only Brook Lopez still on the injured list.
The Bucks are now 7-3 in their last 10 games, which includes 112.6 points per game, a cumulative +4.0 in plus/minus, and 46% shooting, all of which are top ten marks in the NBA during that time.
The Nets keep on winning so it might be difficult for the Bucks to catch them in the standings, but this path seems to be headed to another heavyweight showdown in the Eastern finals this season. Considering what we still don't know about Kyrie Irving and the state of the Nets, I do still think the Bucks are great value at +750.
Golden State Warriors (+550, Last Week: +600)
I will continue to fight the good fight that believes the Warriors are the best odds on the board for NBA champions. Starting the year between +2000-+2500 in most books, they are now the heavy favorite to come out of the West and they aren't even at full strength yet.
They are fifth in offensive rating, first in defensive rating, second in rebound percentage, second in assist ratio and look like they have zero weaknesses with the emergence of Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole as excellent complimentary pieces.
And now they look forward to welcoming back an All-NBA player in Klay Thompson. The Warriors should have one goal and one goal only for his return to play: Get him ready for the playoff grind.
We will like see the Warriors in the same territory where the Nets sit right now be season's end, so now is the time to invest.
Brooklyn Nets (+260, Last Week: +275)
Somehow, someway, the Nets keep winning, despite having to play guys like David Duke Jr., Cam Thomas and Kessler Edwards. Now, they are beginning to turn the corner on the injury front and reports are that Kyrie Irving could rejoin the team as soon as January 5th.
It speaks to the individual brilliance of both Kevin Durant and James Harden when each have had to carry the team on their backs through stretches of the season. Now the Nets must learn to play together with these three mega-stars, although Irving may only be available for road games.
Even with the loss of Joe Harris, the team has enough shooting, size, depth, and playoff experience to take on all who will try to challenge them in the East. I still see strong value here at +260 because we have seen their odds do nothing but shorten over the last eight weeks.
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.