As an NBA champion was just crowned Tuesday night, bookmakers listed the Brooklyn Nets (+225) and Los Angeles Lakers (+400) as betting favorites for the 2021-22 season.
Champion Milwaukee Bucks, who closed the franchise’s first title since 1971 with a six-game Finals victory over the Phoenix Suns, has the next shortest odds at +900.
“This season, the Nets and Lakers brought in a lot more money than any other team,” Nick Bogdanovich, William Hill US director of commerce, told ESPN, reinforcing how risk on popular teams will always drive the odds.
Bogdanovich also indicated that talent is a factor.
“In a normal year, if those players stay somewhat healthy, they will definitely become the best team,” Bogdanovich said of the Nets.
All-Stars Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving played just eight regular season games together for Brooklyn. The Nets’ playoff run ended in the Eastern Conference semifinals when Irving suffered an ankle injury and Harden battled a hamstring injury. They finally lost to the Bucks in overtime in Game 7.
In recent years, free agency played a huge role in the futures market. Sharp bettors have occasionally caught bookies off guard, anticipating big signings and betting on long odds, but this summer is shaping up to be relatively quiet. Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul can become free agents as they have player options on their current contracts. However, Leonard is coming out of surgery for a torn ACL and Paul is 36 years old.
“We anticipate there will be more impact in the exchange market than in the free agent market,” Las Vegas SuperBook assistant manager and NBA chief betting officer Jeff Sherman told ESPN. “Who knows if [Damian] Lillard will be traded. If he ends up being traded, then that would be bigger than any free agent. “
Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons could also be traded, as his shooting problems in the postseason contributed to the conference’s top seed losing seven games to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern semifinals. The Sixers (18-1) would certainly get talent in return.
Phoenix reached the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993 and came close to cashing in as an underdog in the 50-1 neighborhood. However, the Suns will not surprise punters this time with odds of 15-1, which are the shortest fifths.
“I don’t know how much Chris Paul has left in the tank,” Bogdanovich said. “[Devin] Booker and [Deandre] Ayton are great as mainstays. This year it was not a coincidence. “
The Golden State Warriors (10-1) didn’t even make the playoffs, but they have the fourth shortest odds. Sniper Klay Thompson is expected to return from an Achilles tendon injury, and the Warriors could package their two lottery picks for an established top-tier player who would help them compete anytime soon. Two-time MVP Stephen Curry is 33 and three-time All-Star Draymond Green is 31.
The preseason betting favorite has won the NBA title in four of the last six seasons. Over the past 35 seasons, only four teams have won the championship with odds of 15-1 or higher.