The NBA season begins in three weeks and the Los Angeles Lakers are the consensus favorite to win back-to-back NBA championships. The Lakers are 3/1 odds to win the NBA title, according to a recent update by DraftKings, while the Milwaukee Bucks and LA Clippers are 11/2 co-favorites to win. Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors saw their NBA championship odds go from 8/1 to 30/1 on the news that Klay Thompson tore his Achilles during a workout.

NBA 2021 Odds Championship Golden State Warriors LA Lakers
LeBron James of the LA Lakers and the Greek Freak from the Milwaukee Bucks at the 2019 NBA All-Star Game. (Image: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty)

The NBA will play a reduced 72-game schedule for the upcoming 2020-21 season. The NBA season will tip-off on Dec. 22, but the league office has yet to release a full schedule.

The Lakers won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010, which punctuated the end of the Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson era in the team’s storied history.

The Lakers added Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroder to their roster in the offseason, which makes them even more dangerous than last season.

  • LA Lakers 3/1
  • LA Clippers 11/2
  • Milwaukee Bucks 11/2
  • Brooklyn Nets 6/1
  • Boston Celtics 13/1
  • Miami Heat 15/1
  • Toronto Raptors 20/1
  • Dallas Mavericks 22/1
  • Denver Nuggets 22/1
  • Philadelphia 76ers 25/1
  • Golden State Warriors 30/1

It’s easier to repeat as an NBA champion than it is to win back-to-back Super Bowls or win the World Series in consecutive seasons. The Golden State Warriors won back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018, which marked their third title in four seasons. The Warriors were fixtures in the NBA Finals representing the Western Conference in five consecutive seasons.

With only half of the Splash Brothers in action, the Warriors will be hard-pressed to make a title run without Thompson.

2021 the Year of the Freak?

Before LeBron James signed with the Lakers and moved out west, he dominated the Eastern Conference. LeBron guided both the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers to the championship in eight straight seasons.

Since LeBron skipped Cleveland (a second time), there’s been a power vacuum in the east. The Toronto Raptors secured the Eastern Conference title two seasons ago. This past season, Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat filled the void.

Will it finally be time for the Greek Freak to make his mark with the Milwaukee Bucks? The Bucks dominated the regular season over the past two years, but the team faltered in the postseason in both 2019 and 2020.

The Bucks made a few aggressive moves to shore up the team, including acquiring Jrue Holiday. Milwaukee’s front office is trying to persuade the Greek Freak to stay with the Bucks and re-sign a max contract with the team. In the meantime, they’re making a run for the title this season with the addition of Holiday, arguably one of the best two-way guards in the league. He can be a much-needed defensive stopper in the postseason while inflicting damage on offense as a savvy scorer.

The Bucks saw their NBA odds bump from 13/2 odds to 11/2 odds after landing Holiday.

Middle of the Road

The Phoenix Suns saw their title odds jump from 50/1 to 40/1 after they acquired Chris Paul in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Suns now have a solid starting five that includes Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, and Cameron Johnson.

Stan Van Gundy takes over in New Orleans and he’ll be tasked with helping develop Zion Williamson into an All-Star talent. But the Pelicans lost their best defender when they shipped Holiday to Milwaukee.

  • Phoenix Suns 40/1
  • Houston Rockets 30/1
  • Portland Trail Blazers 50/1
  • Utah Jazz 40/1
  • New Orleans Pelicans 60/1

The Rockets have a new head coach with Stephen Silas, but they’re still in limbo concerning their two biggest stars, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, who both requested trades out of Houston. Harden wants to go to Brooklyn to play with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Meanwhile, Westbrook wants out period. Will RWB end up with the Knicks or Hornets, or will Houston ship him elsewhere?

Long Shots and Jabronis

Only 16 teams out of 30 will advance to the NBA postseason. The NBA will never admit it, but only a handful of teams have a shot at winning the title. The majority of the league is just fodder for fantasy basketball nerds or filling the role of the “Jabroni,” to use a pro wrestling term popularized by The Rock.

  • Atlanta Hawks 100/1
  • Indiana Pacers 100/1
  • Memphis Grizzlies 150/1
  • San Antonio Spurs 150/1
  • Chicago Bulls 200/1
  • Minnesota Timberwolves 200/1
  • OKC Thunder 200/1
  • Orlando Magic 200/1
  • Sacramento Kings 200/1
  • Washington Wizards 200/1

The Atlanta Hawks have a young and exciting team, but can Trae Young elevate the baby Hawks out of Jabroni status and make them a bona fide long shot? The same goes for Ja Morant (Rookie of the Year winner) and the Memphis Grizzlies. The Griz are fun to watch, especially the high-flying Morant.

The rest of the teams mentioned in this segment are either in rebuilding mode or legit waiting until next season.

Better Luck Next Year … or the Year After That

Everyone hits rock bottom once in a while. Anyone in recovery will tell you that they can’t truly make an effort to get better until they hit bottom. Four franchises have been scrapping at the bottom of the NBA’s basement for the last few years.

At least the Charlotte Hornets tried to make a move northward. The Hornets welcomed Gordon Hayward to Buzz City after signing him to a lucrative deal worth $120 million over four seasons. If Hayward can remain healthy, then he can help the Hornets climb out of the proverbial basement.

  • Cleveland Cavs 400/1
  • Charlotte Hornets 400/1
  • Detroit Pistons 400/1
  • New York Knicks 400/1

When it comes to the New York Knicks, fans often wonder how low they can get? The Knicks were mentioned in multiple rumors to acquire high-end talent, but that’s all they were. Rumors. Chris Paul didn’t end up at MSG. Russell Westbrook and James Harden were also mentioned in a potential trade, but both players know that the Knicks are a black hole where no one emerges alive. MSG is the NBA’s hospice, where careers go to die.