NBA Championship Contenders And Pretenders For Opening Night

Written by on October 25, 2016

With the start of the 2016 NBA basketball season just hours away from getting started, this look at the latest NBA Futures odds to win the 2016-17 NBA Championship will reveal the handful of teams that are legitimate contenders, those that are pretenders and those that have no chance whatsoever of hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy next June. With that said, let’s get started.

Analyzing The NBA Championship Contenders And Pretenders For Opening Night

The Favorites

Golden State Warriors -200
Cleveland Cavaliers +300
San Antonio Spurs +1000
Boston Celtics +2200

Look, there’s not an NBA fan on the face of the planet that doesn’t know the Golden State Warriors and defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers are virtual shoo-ins to meet in the NBA Finals for the third straight season. The Dubs added Kevin Durant this offseason and Cleveland returns almost its entire core from a year ago. Of course, injuries could derail either team, but right now, they’re the clear-cut favorites for a reason.

Having said that, I think it’s possible that two teams could at least give the Cavs and Dubs a run for their money in the forms of the perennially-powerful San Antonio Spurs and blossoming Boston Celtics. The Spurs added veteran big men Pau Gasol and David Lee to a lineup that already includes former Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, all-star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and savvy point guard Tony Parker among others. Still though, without Tim Duncan holding it down in the paint, it’s going to be interesting to see how the Spurs transform even more, although that process began two years ago with Leonard taking more of a leadership role.

In the Eastern Conference, the up-and-coming Boston Celtics are apparently the team with the best odds of derailing Cleveland’s consecutive championship hopes, but as a lifelong C’s fanatic, I say Boston is at least another year – or elite player – away from really challenging LeBron James and company. Boston’s addition of veteran big man Al Horford was a great move, but he’s not a superstar that is capable of catapulting the Celtics past the Cavs right now.

Legitimate Contenders

Los Angeles Clippers +3300
Oklahoma City Thunder +6500
Toronto Raptors +7000
Chicago Bulls +8000
New York Knicks +9000
Utah Jazz +10000
Portland Blazers +10000

The Clippers have a ton of talent that will help them contend, but not much direction, heart or basketball smarts, outside of Chris Paul that is. Oklahoma City still has one of the top five players on the planet in Russell Westbrook and a bunch of other very, very good players starting with center Steven Adams and the newly acquired Victor Oladipo.

The Toronto Raptors shot their load last season and the Chicago Bulls could be the most dysfunctional team in the league despite adding wily veteran Dwyane Wade. A lot of NBA bettors are backing the New York Knicks as a long shot pick, but I remain very skeptical, seeing as how Carmelo Anthony still doesn’t pass the ball – or play any defense – and Derrick Rose could go down at a moment’s notice. Both players will take shots way from the Knicks’ most promising player, young forward Kristaps Porzingis.

Moving right along, I have to say that I love the way the Utah Jazz have built their roster and improved their on-court hopes. The Jazz have plenty of young talent, even if Gordon Hayward opts out after this season to join Brad Stevens in Boston. Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert are both, still blossoming frontcourt players and could make the Jazz a legitimate contender this season after they just missed out on a playoff berth last season.

Last but not least, I absolutely love Damian Lillard and the way the Portland Trail Blazers never, ever give up. Portland looks to be another year or player or two away from really challenging, although they found they have a real gem in shooting guard C.J. McCollum and forward Alan Crabbe last season. The additions of veterans Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli could help the Blazers really challenge this coming season.

The Rest

Indiana Pacers +9000
Atlanta Hawks +9000
Detroit Pistons +13000
Houston Rockets +18000
Dallas Mavericks +35000
Brooklyn Nets +50000
Charlotte Hornets +50000
Denver Nuggets +40000
Los Angeles Lakers +45000
Memphis Grizzlies +7500
Miami Heat +13000
Milwaukee Bucks +13000
Minnesota Timberwolves +8000
New Orleans Pelicans +13000
Orlando Magic +18000
Philadelphia 76ers +50000
Phoenix Suns +75000
Sacramento Kings +45000
Washington Wizards +13000
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