The air is getting crisper outside, the holidays are around the corner, and the sports world is in arguably one of the best times of the year. Not only is the MLB Playoffs providing for tons of entertainment, but the NFL season is now a month into things, the NHL season started this past week, and the NBA will kick things off here shortly. Here’s a look at the odds for the upcoming NBA season with opening tip off just weeks away.
Cleveland Cavaliers 3/1
There is no question that all eyes are going to be on the Cleveland Cavaliers once they start their season on October 30 against the New York Knicks. LeBron James has made his return to Cleveland, as he now returns with two NBA Championship rings and a whole lot more experience. But while James had little help during his first tenure in Cleveland, he’ll now have Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on his side. The Cavs were also able to retain the Anderson Varejao, who played well with James but hasn’t had the same type of success since his departure. Right now, the Cavs are favored at 3/1 odds to win the NBA Championship. And while it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a team led by James find itself atop the list, this team will have to gel quickly if they want to get things rolling quickly.
The Cavs finished out of the playoffs last year at 33-49, but they are expected to have the best record in the East this season.
San Antonio Spurs 4/1
Another year old and another offseason to enjoy an NBA Championship title, the San Antonio Spurs will hit the floor in 2014 with the second-best odds at 4/1. The Spurs didn’t do much in the offseason, but why try and fix something if it’s not broken? Kawhi Leonard will return off an NBA Finals MVP performance, and Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker will look to keep things rolling as well. Duncan will is no 38 and Ginobili is 37, but neither showed to be slowing down last season. The West will be coming for the Spurs, but right now they are the favorites to win their third Western Conference title in a row.
Oklahoma City Thunder 13/2
One of those teams that will be coming for San Antonio is the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder have been battling it out with the Spurs for reign of the West for the last three years, coming up short in the Western Conference Finals in the last two. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant will return, and we’ll have to keep an eye out to see just how long it takes before questions start swirling as to who really leads this team. The Thunder lost an influential leader in Derek Fisher this offseason, as well as Thabo Sefolosha and Hasheem Thabeet. The Thunder currently sit at 13/2 odds and chasing San Antonio, which is a familiar place for them to be in.
Chicago Bulls 17/2
With so many storylines that will be taking up the NBA headlines in the coming weeks, the return of Derrick Rose may go under the radar. However, that doesn’t mean that the Bulls aren’t hoping that the second time’s a charm for Rose as he attempts to return from a second knee injury that kept him out of the majority of last season. The biggest acquisition of the offseason not involving the Cavaliers may have been Pau Gasol landing in Chicago. With plenty of championship experience and the ability to add a new look to the Bulls frontcourt, Gasol hopes that he’ll be able to help the Bulls take a strong push in the East. The Bulls did release Carlos Boozer over the offseason, but he wasn’t nearly the same workforce last season as he was in previous years. Despite the fact that the Bulls ranked 30th in points for last year at 93.7 per, they had the best defense and a league low for points allowed at 91.8.
Los Angeles Clippers 11/1
From the team that had the best defense in the league to the team that had the best offense, the Los Angeles Clippers enter 2014 with 11/1 odds to win the NBA Championship. The Clipps arguably looked like one of the best teams around last season, but they were rocked during the playoffs when their owner came under fire for comments that he made. They’ll re-up in 2014 and make another push, as Chris Paul and Blake Griffin lead things. The Clippers lost Darren Collison, Jared Dudley, and the newly acquired Danny Granger in the offseason, but their biggest signings were Jordan Farmar and Chris Douglas-Roberts. They are also expressing interest in Greg Oden and Andrew Bynum, as they look for another big man to add to their frontcourt.
Houston Rockets 25/1
The Rockets finished 4th in the West last year, but they were bounced in the First Round of the playoffs by Portland. After having high hopes in the offseason, but one could say that they came up short with what they were trying to do. They dangled Chandler Parsons as bait with the hope that they’d land Chris Bosh, but as after Bosh decided to stay in Miami, Parsons ended up heading to Dallas. The Rockets also lost Omer Asik and Omri Casspi as well. They did get Treveor Ariza and vetern Jason Terry, and it’s hard to argue against a team that has Dwight Howard and James Harden. The Rockets currently sit at 25/1, but they may be continuing to look all season to try and add another big name player to their roster in order to make a push in the West. The Rockets open up their season against Howard’s former team, the Lakers, so be sure to check back with sportspicks.com handicappers for insider information and insight before tip off on October 28th.
Golden State Warriors 30/1
The biggest part of the offseason for Golden State was weather or not they would trade Klay Thompson for Kevin Love as they try and bolster their front court. But after Love expressed his passion to only play with LeBron James, the Warriors decided to keep Thompson and hope that he and Steph Curry can make a splash in the Western Conference. The Warriors also signed Steve Kerr as their coach, so we’ll keep an eye on how his impact is felt. The Warriors find themselves with two superstars in a conference dominated by three-superstar teams. They are at 30/1, and they’ll hope that Curry and Thompson can carry the load starting on opening night against Sacramento.
Dallas Mavericks 30/1
The biggest addition for the Mavericks during the offseason was Chandler Parsons. There’s now question that Parson’s was the third guy behind Dwight Howard and James Harden, but he will have a much bigger role in the frontcourt alongside Dirk Nowitzki and the newly re-acquired Tyson Chandler. The Mavs did lose an aging Vince Carter, who was very helpful during the postseason, but they also added Raymond Felton and Jameer Nelson in the backcourt. The Mavs added a whole bunch of new talent this year, and they’ll hope that these are the right pieces to surround Nowitzki with. They had the 8th highest points per game last season at 104.8, but they also let up the 20th highest at 102.4 against.
Washington Wizards 40/1
It’s no misprint. The Washington Wizards are in the top-10 for odds to win the 2015 NBA Championship. Thanks to the help of Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat, and John Wall, the Wizards were one of the surprising teams of the season last year. They finished the season in the 5-spot in the East, and they knocked off the favored Bulls in the first round. While they did lose Trevor Ariza and Al Harrington, the Wizards bring back a core group of guys that puts them at 40/1 odds. They also added Kris Humphries, Paul Pierce and DeJuan Blair. Now entering his second year, former 3rd overall pick Otto Porter will also look to add to the mix as a more influential piece. The Wizards certainly won’t be sliding under the radar this year, which could be a change for them. But as things stand now, they could look to mix it up with the best in the West.
Portland Trail Blazers 45/1
Rounding out the top ten is the Portland Trail Blazers at 45/1. The Blazers had the hottest start of the season last year, as Damien Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge lead an offense that ranked 4th in points, 106.7, 1st in rebounds, 46.4, and 9th in assists, 23.2. The Blazers also added veteran point guard Steve Blake, as well as Chris Kayman to their frontcourt. The West is going to be a challenge for every team this season, and the Blazers hope to find themselves in the mix of things come next April. They’ll open things up against Oklahoma City on October 29th, and we’ll get our first look at whether or not Portland can keep up with success that they had last year.
Here’s a look at how the rest of the league breaks down for odds to win the 2015 NBA Championship:
60/1: Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors.
70/1: Brooklyn Nets
75/1: Atlanta Hawks
100/1: Indiana Pacers, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans.
200/1: Orlando Magic
300/1: Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons
400/1: Milwaukee Bucks
500/1: Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves
650/1: Philadelphia 76ers