When the NBA season shut down back in March, fans hoped for a quick return. It quickly became apparent that it was not going to happen. As the days, weeks, and months passed, the possibility of a return looked bleak. But a plan is in place, and it seems like the season will resume in late July.
As the season’s return becomes more and more likely, fans have to rethink who they believe will win the NBA Championship this year. Are the Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks still the frontrunners?
2020 NBA Championship Winner Odds:
- Los Angeles Lakers +240
- Milwaukee Bucks +260
- Los Angeles Clippers +320
- Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics +1600
- Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers +2000
- Denver Nuggets +2500
- Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz +3500
- Miami Heat +4000
- Brooklyn Nets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers +8000
- New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers +10000
- Memphis Grizzlies +25000
- San Antonio Spurs +75000
- Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings, Washington Wizards +100000
The Lakers are down two players and potentially a third if Dwight Howard decides to sit out. But with a healthy LeBron James and Anthony Davis, they are still the clear and obvious frontrunners followed closely by the Clippers. While the Clippers are not expected to lose anyone, they were still in the chemistry building process when the season shut down in March.
As for the Bucks, they appear to be poised to return at full strength. While they looked unstoppable before the season went on pause, they looked unstoppable last season as well. But the Toronto Raptors did stop them in the postseason—could someone else do it this year? Maybe.
Boston could be difficult to beat with a healthy Kemba Walker returning (assuming he is healthy). Houston should be healthy, rested, and ready to go. If the Rockets can get off to a strong start, they will not be easy to beat, either. Should they get hot, they can beat anyone.
With the long break helping the roster get healthy, the Raptors could be the surprise team to watch in the East.
Strong cases could also be made for the 76ers, Nuggets, Jazz, Heat, Thunder, and Pacers. Dallas has an outside shot as well. But they would need the chemistry between Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingas to explode. They’ll make it tough on someone, but they will have a better chance next season.
As for the remaining teams, they are each lacking in a way that makes it hard to see them making a push.
So—who should you bet on?
The easy NBA pick is on the Laker or Bucks. They were the two best teams before the break and will likely remain the two best teams in the foreseeable future. But neither team is infallible. So, the question becomes whether someone else can beat them.
Houston could get the job done in the West if they can get on a hot streak against the Lakers. Boston has the best chance to emerge in the East. But don’t count out the Raptors or 76ers. At the odds all four teams have, they are each worth putting a few bucks on.