Who will win the 2021 NBA Championships?
With the 2020 Draft completed, it’s time to look ahead to the 2020/21 NBA season. The 19/20 campaign saw the Los Angeles Lakers walk away with their 17th league title, putting them level with the Boston Celtics for the most in NBA history. As for the futures odds for this year’s championship, the Lakers are among the five clear contenders. Futures bets are simply wagers on a future event, as opposed to the standard moneyline bet — “the most fundamental wagering line in the NBA” according to Sports Intel, where bettors simply “pick one team to win [an individual game]”. Futures bets, on the other hand, wager on the whole championship.
So, who exactly are the bookies backing for the 20/21 season?
1. The Los Angeles Lakers (+330)
Unsurprisingly, the current NBA champions are the favorites to win it this time around too. Despite a quiet draft, with the shrewd trade of Danny Green for Oklahoma City guard Dennis Schröder being the only move they made, the bookmakers seem right to back the Lakers. After all, the LA franchise still has LeBron James on the books, which automatically makes them a viable contender. And fortunately for them, King James is in as good form as ever. The 2020 MVP averaged 27.6 points per game as he helped steer the Lakers to the title and, while at the age of 35 he’s no spring chicken, James has shown no clear signs of slowing down. The main worry for the Lakers is that his sidekick Anthony Davis has yet to re-sign for the 2021 season, though it’s expected that he will do so before it kicks off on December 22nd.
2. The Milwaukee Bucks (+450)
Despite the Bucks’ disappointing conference semi-final defeat in the 2020 postseason, the Milkwaukee franchise are the second favorites to claim the 2021 championship. Like the Lakers, this largely comes down to the superstar forward in their ranks, with Giannis Antetokounmpo scoring 26.7 points per game on average and leading the team to an impressive 56-17 regular season record. And although there’s talk of the Greek Freak leaving after this season, you’d expect him to have another stellar campaign in 2021. With the Bucks adding the services of Louisville’s Jordan Nwora and Utah State’s Sam Merrill during the draft, and in talks to acquire Jrue Holiday, Bogdan Bogdanović and Justin James, they look set to improve on last year’s performance, giving the Lakers a real run for their money.
3. Brooklyn Nets (+600)
The Nets signed two of the league’s best players in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant before the start of last season, giving hope they could challenge for the title. Unfortunately, the two attackers were beset with injury problems, with Irving making just 20 regular season appearances, and Durant unable to play at all. However, with both in line to return to the court in 20/21, the Nets’ +600 odds look especially enticing should the two stars remain healthy. Since last season, the Brooklyn franchise has also brought in Steve Nash as head coach to replace Jacque Vaughn. As one of the best point guards in NBA history, it will be interesting to see the impact he can have in his first-ever coaching role, especially with Mike D’Antoni by his side.
4. Los Angeles Clippers (+700)
The fourth favorites are the LA Clippers, who have a similar story to the Nets. The side signed two potential game changers in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard ahead of the 19/20 season in hope they could propel them to NBA success, but injuries held them back. As such, a clean bill of health for these two players could see the Clippers push on, especially as they’ve had time now to gel as a team. The Clippers have also added players including Luke Kennard and Jay Scrubb to their roster in an effort to boost their squad, though they will go into the 20/21 season without the services of Doc Rivers, who was fired after the team’s disappointing playoffs exit, with former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue stepping up to the plate. Best known for winning the championship in his first season as a head coach in 2015/16, could he repeat his success this time around?
5. Golden State Warriors (+750)
Finally, the Golden State Warriors are the outside favorites to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy come July. Although the San Francisco franchise reached the NBA Finals in five of the last six seasons, and won three titles during that period, a season-ending injury to star shooting guard Klay Thompson has dashed their hopes of repeating that success in 20/21. Thompson was a fundamental part of this run and will be hugely missed, but with a roster featuring the likes of Draymond Green and Stephen Curry, you’d expect the Warriors to have a strong campaign nonetheless. They also added highly-rated center James Wiseman to the mix during the draft, plus guards Nico Mannion and Justinian Jessu.