The reigning champion San Antonio Spurs continue to be insulted in Vegas NBA oddsmakers predictions. Despite handling LeBron James and company fine while LBJ was a member of the Miami Heat, The Spurs find itself just the second most likely to win the title. It isn’t exactly a two-team race between the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs, though. We’ll examine the top eight teams in NBA odds.
Odds courtesy Of Bovada
While the Cleveland Cavaliers are the favorites in the East, expecting a team with two new stars to take down an established San Antonio team still seems quite unlikely. The Spurs return every valuable player and the Cavs are going to have to figure out how to integrate three All-Stars into one system. The Spurs share the ball well, sometimes having six, seven, eight-pass possessions. Until the Cavs can demonstrate that kind of ingenuity and unselfishness, the Cavs linger behind the Spurs, despite NBA odds dictating otherwise.
San Antonio (15/4)
This may be the year the Spurs repeat. Four titles in 15 years speaks for itself, but Tim Duncan has never done it in back-to-back seasons. The Spurs return everyone, as mentioned, and for a team with such great offensive potency, the Spurs hardly lack defense. Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter function as well as any 4/5 tandem in the NBA defensively. Kawhi Leonard is only continuing to get better. Tony Parker is still in his prime. Manu Ginobili is one of the best sixth men in the league still, and is about as clutch as a 2-guard can be. The Spurs are the team everyone needs to gun down, yet somehow everyone throws out the “Too old” mantra that barely even makes sense. Age is experience, experience leads to wins.
Before Derrick Rose tore his ACL, the Chicago Bulls posted the best record in the NBA one season and the best in the East the next. This is a dangerous team with a strong starting five and great depth behind it. Pau Gasol will be a perfect fit as a big man who can pass. Along with the deft passing of Joakim Noah, the Bulls will have the option of going to the high post a lot, which will allow Derrick Rose to ease back into things (that is, if he will go that route). The Bulls get better by losing Carlos Boozer, and rookie Doug McDermott is a great fit for Chicago; the Bulls fought hard to acquire him on draft night. The two-guard spot remains a possible weakness, but that’s a small quip with a guy capable of defending like Jimmy Butler.
The OKC Thunder fall to No. 4 in NBA Odds mostly due to the fact that Kevin Durant has a tough task ahead of himself. It’s better to miss two months early on in the season, but what if the foot falters after rehab? It’s a risky bet to pick OKC, and bettors are likely to steer clear. Russell Westbrook is good enough to keep OKC at .600-type ball before Durant returns, but the Thunder still have a mediocre coach in Scott Brooks. With this type of talent on a team, it should be a stronger contender. It is also worth mentioning that Kendrick Perkins is the worst starting 5-man in the league. Steven Adams should steal his spot, but probably still won’t.
The best of the rest:
LAC (17/2) remains a difficult team for opposing defenses, but that type of play hasn’t worked yet in the playoffs. Still, the Clippers are one of the deepest teams in the NBA run by the best playmaker in the Association. The Clippers are exciting, but not as good as thrilling.
Dallas revamped its team in the offseason with the additions of Jameer Nelson, Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons. All have their question marks, though. Nelson is aging and not as effective as he was when selected to the All-Star team in 2009 (though he missed the game due to injury). Felton always has been and is horrible. Parsons is a good player, but can he become a great player? Tyson Chandler is steady, consistent and will make the defense better, but Dirk Nowitzki is at the witching hour for NBA big men. The fact that he is the most skilled seven-footer of all-time may make that decline far less rapid though.
Golden State (16/1)
The Golden State Warriors are the league’s most exciting team and a favorite for league pass, but the West is tough, really tough. Golden State has the best shooting backcourt in the NBA, a defense that finished 9th in rating last season and a new promising head coach in Steve Kerr. The actual key to this team may be the play of the secondary rotation players. If Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut improve their play, this team is at the top. David Lee also can’t be forgotten as one of the most consistent 20/10 threats in the league. The Warriors are a good value bet at 16/1 future’s odds.
The Houston Rockets are a long-shot to be sure, but the team has the best shooting guard and center in the NBA. Dwight Howard seems due to return to his former form, and Hakeem Olajuwon said he expects an MVP season from his protege. Hakeem is about as good a mentor as one can find, but Howard has lacked the footwork necessary to place himself in great position during his career. Jameer Nelson found a way to get Dwight the ball close to the hole. That hasn’t happened in Houston with an inferior point guard in Patrick Beverley and a trigger happy James Harden.