The NBA regular season is only three weeks old, but with each team putting 10-12 games in the books, bettors on the NBA championship odds have a much clearer picture of the league’s hierarchy going forward.
Of course, the Golden State Warriors – champions in three out of the last four NBA Finals – still reign supreme atop the Western Conference standings at 10-2. A pair of upstart challengers for the throne have emerged, however, with the Denver Nuggets (9-2) and the Portland Trail Blazers (9-3) both nipping at the Dubs’ heels.
The oddsmakers at online sportsbook Bovada haven’t seemed to notice though, as the Warriors are still odds-on favorites at (-155) to pull off the “three-peat.” Those NBA championship odds have dipped slightly from (-175) since early July, when opening lines were released, but no other team comes close to Golden State.
The aforementioned Nuggets and Trail Blazers are the only teams out West within one game of the Warriors, but their updated NBA championship odds don’t reflect that whatsoever.
Denver opened at (+6000) in July, and while the team’s title chances have doubled to (+3000) thanks to a torrid start, they’re still seventh in the pecking order behind Golden State.
As for Portland, the Blazers opened at (+10000) and have since improved to (+6000), which is good for 12th overall behind the Warriors dynasty.
Both teams are clearly performing above expectation in the early going, but Bovada’s bookmakers simply don’t expect them to compete with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant & Co. come playoff time.
The Houston Rockets (4-6) are the only team that has come closest to dethroning the Warriors in the West, going up 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals last summer before losing point guard Chris Paul – and the series. Houston shipped Trevor Ariza out over the offseason, replacing him with an aging Carmelo Anthony, and the results thus far have been a problem to say the least.
After putting up 112.4 points per game en route to a 65-17 record in 2017-18, the anemic Rockets offense has gone AWOL. Houston is scoring just 102.9 per game early on, “good” for the fourth-worst offense in all of basketball.
Predictably, with the Houston defense still a sieve, the Rockets have stumbled to a disappointing start. Nonetheless, they’re still (+1200) to topple the Warriors dynasty by season’s end after opening at (+750).
And finally, no discussion of the Western Conference would be complete without checking in with LeBron James and the new look Los Angeles Lakers (5-6).
As the centerpiece of a cobbled together team of castoffs – including former LeBron foes Lance Stephenson and Rajon Rando – James was never expected to give Golden State a run for their money in Year 1. Even so, the opening NBA championship odds had L.A. listed at (+750) to claim their sixth title since 2000.
The Lakers have struggled to coalesce through three weeks, prompting head honcho Magic Johnson to admonish head coach Luke Walton, and the books to drop LeBron and L.A. to (+2500) on a championship.
The Toronto Raptors (11-1) finished atop the Eastern Conference last season, and after a tumultuous offseason that saw DeMar DeRozan traded to the Spurs for malcontent Kawhi Leonard, they find themselves in the same spot.
Leonard has fit in perfectly so far, and while his time in Toronto may only span one season, his presence has elevated the Raptors from (+4500) opening odds all the away to (+800).
Toronto’s closest competitor in the conference has been the Milwaukee Bucks (9-2), led by emerging MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo. The “Greek Freak” helped spark the Bucks in a 134-111 thrashing of the Warriors this week, on the road no less, officially putting the league on notice.
Milwaukee entered the year as (+5500) longshots to win it all, but with Antetokounmpo looking like a tall blend of LeBron and Jordan out there, the Bucks now sit at (+1600).
For a full look at where all 30 teams stand in terms of NBA championship odds, check out the table below for current lines relative to the opening number:
|Team||2019 NBA Title Odds on 11/9/2018||Opening Odds on 7/3/2018|
|Golden State Warriors||-155||-175|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+2500||+750|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+3500||+5500|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+5000||+7000|
|San Antonio Spurs||+5000||+5000|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+6000||+10000|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+10000||+12500|
|New York Knicks||+50000||+9000|