Can LeBron, AD lead Lakers to title?
Are the Los Angeles Lakers worth a futures bet going into the 2019-20 to win an NBA championship? Here's a look at some of the top candidates to win the NBA title this season.
According to oddsmakers, the LA Chippers are favorites to win the NBA championship with 9/2 odds. The Milwaukee Bucks have 11/2 odds, while the Lakers have 6/1 odds. The Philadelphia 76ers are set at 8/1 and the Houston Rockets are at 9/1. The Golden State Warriors are listed at 12/1. A full list of teams can be found on our NBA Future Odds Page.
Los Angeles Clippers
At one point last season, it appeared as though the Clippers were fully into rebuild mode as they dealt Tobias Harris and had a young roster full of players who were not ready to compete for a championship. Even so, LA was arguably the most surprising team in the NBA and clinched the eighth seed in the West and even won a couple games against the Golden State Warriors in the first round before falling in six games. The Clippers proceeded to make a major splash in the offseason as they signed NBA champion Kawhi Leonard away from the Raptors and shortly thereafter swung a megadeal to land Paul George. Equipped with a roster that is 10-deep and full of different lineup options, Los Angeles will be gifted on both ends of the court and has a number of outstanding options to go to with the basketball in crunch time. George will be sidelined for a while following shoulder surgery, but once he's back in the lineup look out.
The Bucks followed up a phenomenal regular season last year with a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals as they swept Detroit in the first round and bested Boston in five games in the conference semifinals. But Milwaukee squandered a 2-0 series lead against eventual NBA champion Toronto in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, dropping the final four games to see its season end in disappointing fashion. The Bucks are in good position to bounce back, however, as they have one of the NBA's most dynamic players in league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. He averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game last season with a PER of a whopping 30.95. Milwaukee also brings back guard Eric Bledsoe, small forward Khris Middleton and center Brook Lopez among others but must replace production from the departed Malcolm Brogdon.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers will continue to be the LeBron James Show, but now he has a major ally in Anthony Davis after the latter basically forced a trade to the destination of his choice. Los Angeles gave up a lot, but the duo of The King and The Brow will undoubtedly provide countless highlights and a whole bunch of wins. Los Angeles also retained Kyle Kuzma, which gives them a nice third option on offense. DeMarcus Cousins was supposed to provide additional help in the scoring department, but his injury woes continued this summer as he tore his ACL is is likely out for the season. I'm not sold on the roster depth and defense was a major issue last season, but bringing in veterans like Avery Bradley and Danny Green should help fill various deficiencies.
Philadelphia still has a Big Four in place with the incoming Al Horford taking a bit of the blow off the loss of Jimmy Butler to free agency. But with J.J. Redick also out of the picture, the pressure will be on the core of center Joel Embiid along with point forward Ben Simmons and forward Tobias Harris to carry the team to new heights. The Sixers lost to eventual NBA champ Toronto in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs in May, losing on a wild game-winning shot as time expired. With Toronto having lost Kawhi Leonard to free agency, the Sixers could easily take another step forward in the conference. But it will be essential Embiid stays health and the Sixers find long-distance shooters to replace the production of Redick and help space the floor.
If the George trade didn't shock enough people, the Russell Westbrook trade certainly did the trick. With the Thunder clearly in rebuild mode, it was clear that Westbrook was available but the bigger question is who would take on his albatross of a contract. That turned out to be the Rockets, who shed the Chris Paul deal in the trade to allow for it to happen. While Houston has two of the NBA's most dynamic players on the roster now, it is unknown at this point how it will work on the floor with both James Harden and Westbrook being as ball-dominant as anyone in the NBA. Both will have to give a little and Westbrook is going to have to adapt his game considerably, but the talent is there to reach a very high level if egos can be cast aside to at least an extent.
The Warriors are in the strange position of not being the favorites to win the West. That happens when you not only lose star Kevin Durant to injury and then free agency, while sharpshooter Klay Thompson is expected to miss much of the season. A lot falls on the shoulders of point guard Steph Curry and forward Draymond Green, but they are well-equipped to handle it. D'Angelo Russell is also in the mix and can take some of the pressure off Curry. This is a very interesting team to watch this season and as long as Curry and Green can avoid missing a lot of time with injuries, the Warriors could surprise a lot of people. And if they get Thompson back at the right time rolling into playoff season, it's a scary proposition for the rest of the conference.