With the NBA resuming with 22 teams playing an eight-game regular season to determine playoff seeding, William Hill released updated odds on who is likely to win the 2020 NBA championships, with the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, and LA Clippers among the favorites at the top of the futures board.
The NBA Board of Governors voted to resume play at the end of July with only 22 teams. Starting July 31, those teams will play eight regular-season games to determine playoff seeding. If there’s a close race between the #8 and #9 seed, then they will meet in a play-in game. The #9 seed must win two games to advance to the playoffs, while the #8 seed would only have to win one game.
2020 NBA CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS
Los Angeles Lakers +240
Milwaukee Bucks +260
LA Clippers +320
Houston Rockets 16/1
Boston Celtics 16/1
Toronto Raptors 20/1
Philadelphia Sixers 20/1
Denver Nuggets 25/1
Dallas Mavericks 35/1
Miami Heat 40/1
Brooklyn Nets 40/1
Utah Jazz 40/1
Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1
Indiana Pacers 80/1
Six teams missed the cut in the Eastern Conference and will not have a chance to qualify for the NBA playoffs. The Charlotte Hornets missed the cut, trailing the #8 Orlando Magic by seven games. Other eastern teams that missed the cut include the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, and Cleveland Cavs.
In the tight Western Conference, only the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors failed to qualify among the top-22 teams.
Lakers, Bucks, Clips, Raptors
The Lakers (49-14) and Bucks (53-12) were the top two teams in the NBA in their respective divisions when the league shut down on March 10 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
According to the oddsmakers at William Hill, the Lakers have a slight edge at +240 money line odds to win the NBA title over the Bucks +260. The Clippers (44-20) were the #2 seed in the west, but sit 5.5 games behind the Lakers. The Clips are +320 odds as the third-best favorite on the board.
The NBA defending champion Toronto Raptors (46-18) are currently in the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They don’t have Kawhi Leonard, but Pascal Siakam emerged as a bona fide star. Siakam averaged 23.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. The Raptors have good value at 20/1 odds to win the NBA championship.
The Boston Celtics are worthy of a flier at 16/1 odds. Head coach Brad Stevens cut his teeth as head coach of the Butler Bulldogs. He led a mid-major team to multiple Final Four appearances due to his ability to get his teams prepared in a very short time. If the Celtics get hot, they could upend the Bucks or Raptors.
The Denver Nuggets (25/1 odds) were a hip pick before the pandemic. Now that the NBA will resume in Orlando, the Nuggets lost their home-court advantage. Without the thin air of Colorado, they might be one of the teams that is most negatively affected by the single-site location at sea level.
22 Team Gimmick for Zion?
If you love NBA conspiracy theories, then you’ll love this one. The NBA created the resumed format with 22 teams in order to give Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans a shot at the postseason. If the Pelicans seized the #8 seed, that would create a potential battle between LeBron James and Zion in the opening round.
In the current format, there could be a fun play-in game between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Pelicans. I, for one, would love to see Ja Morant (probable Rookie of the Year) and Zion slug it out for a shot at taking on LeBron and the Lakers.
2020 NBA TITLE LONG SHOT ODDS
New Orleans Pelicans 100/1
Portland Trail Blazers 100/1
Memphis Grizzlies 250/1
San Antonio Spurs 750/1
Phoenix Suns 1000/1
Orlando Magic 1000/1
Sacramento Kings 1000/1
Washington Wizards 1000/1
When the NBA shut down in early March, the Pelicans found themselves in a three-way tie on the bubble with the Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers. Zion and the Pels were 3.5 games behind Morant and the Grizzlies, who occupied the #8 seed with a 32-33 record.
Damian Lillard will suit up for the resumption of the NBA season because the Portland Trail Blazers are one of the 22 teams that qualified. Dame said he’d skip out on the festivities if the Blazers had zero shot at the NBA playoffs. When the NBA returns, Lillard will have eight games to close the gap. The Trail Blazers have to get within four games of the #8 seed in order to force a play-in series.
Zion and the New Orleans Pelicans are 100/1 odds to win the 2020 NBA title. Dame and the Trail Blazers are also 100/1 odds to win the championship.