We’re now past the All-Star break and well into the second half of the 2022-23 NBA season, with most teams having 20 or fewer games remaining. The landscape of the league is quite different since the trade deadline, and that much is reflected in the NBA championship odds. Phoenix, which hadn’t been living up to expectations this season, now has the second-shortest odds to win the title at +275.
Here’s a look at the top-10 favorites to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy this season.
A Quick Look at Some Futures Picks for the 2022-23 NBA Championship
Minus a coaching controversy before the start of the season that resulted in Ime Udoka being fired for an inappropriate workplace relationship, it has been all roses for the Boston Celtics this season. They’re the most complete team in the league and sit first place in the Eastern Conference with a 44-17 record. The Celtics have won three in a row and are 8-2 in their last 10 games, which has kept them ahead of the surging Milwaukee Bucks, winners of 14 games in a row.
While the Bucks could overtake the Celtics for first place before the end of the season, there’s plenty of reasons the Celtics have the shortest odds right now. They’ve been the most consistent team all season, have the most depth, and are the best road team in the league; Boston is 20-10 away from home, which will serve them well in the playoffs, where home court is an even bigger advantage than in the regular season.
Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant might have believed he was “good in the West,” but that was before Kevin Durant was traded to the Phoenix Suns. Durant is one of the best scorers in NBA history and, if healthy in the playoffs, makes the Phoenix Suns the scariest team in the league. A starting lineup with Durant, Deandre Ayton, Chris Paul, and Devin Booker is going to be near impossible to defend.
The major reason the Suns are the smart pick here is because of their position in the Western Conference. The Celtics, Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, and Cleveland Cavaliers have a tougher path to win the East, whereas the Suns, now fourth in the West, could advance to the Western Conference Finals with series wins over the Dallas Mavericks and Sacramento Kings. The smart money here is certainly on the Suns.
If you’re looking for best value, the Cavaliers at +2400 is definitely a worthwhile play. Cleveland is 39-25 this season, sitting fourth place in the Eastern Conference, and should have home-court advantage in the first round at least – the Cavs are 26-7 at home this season.
Cleveland is also one of the league’s best defensive teams. They allow a league-low 106.5 PPG, which is more than 2 points fewer than the Miami Heat in second place. They’ve been one of the league’s best defensive teams for two years now under head coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
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