Thanks to a certain LeBron James, the talk of the top basketball league in the world isn't just about the Golden State Warriors. The King's move to the Lakers in search of silverware has meant headline after headline focusing on the reasons for his switch.
There's no denying his star power but the Warriors keep building with the right kind of players. With a wide range of markets for every match, it's the place to be for betting on the NBA all season long. Remember, you can start betting on the NBA in three simple steps.
Now let's take a look at the top teams for the Championship.
Golden State Warriors
The rich get richer
After trouncing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 17/18 finals, the Warriors rocked the rest of the league in the summer by acquiring one of the best 3 point centres in the game, DeMarcus Cousins. Currently in rehab from an Achilles injury, Cousins expects to be back for the second half of the season, giving him enough time to gel with his all-star cast.
Durant, Curry, Thompson, Green and company will have renewed motivation to see off new challengers, with plenty of superstars outside of Oakland finding new homes this off-season. As expected, this has shortened Golden State to a pre-season price of 1.55 in our NBA Winner market, only further illustrating the belief that Steve Kerr will lead the team to three consecutive titles.
If it wasn’t for a Chris Paul injury in game 5 of the Western Conference finals however Houston might have won their first championship since 1995. Let’s preview some of the chasing pack and analyse what they’ve accomplished in the off season.
The Melo Factor
Houston have taken a gamble on ageing superstar Carmelo Anthony who, after a torrid year at Oklahoma, has a lot to prove since his glory days with the Knicks. Melo had record low numbers at OKC, competing for shots alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George and ultimately playing a bit-part role which seemed to dent his ego. But that experience may help him understand his responsibilities as he will again support two ball-handling geniuses in James Harden & Chris Paul.
Making the number one seed in the west last year and providing Golden State a huge test in the playoffs will give the Rockets belief they can win the title, but the loss of Trevor Ariza to the Phoenix Suns could be a significant loss in their defensive productivity. Houston are currently priced at 9.00 to pick up the title this season, but it feels like they blew their best opportunity last season so better think twice before backing them this year.
Can the King strike at the first attempt?
There’s no doubt that the Lakers have made huge strides this year with the key acquisition of LeBron James. The King turned up to LA in July on a three-year deal with a mission to dethrone Golden State by the end of that period, but the roster he has shaped could bring them closer this year then people are predicting. Acquiring experienced guys such as Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley and Javale McGee to combine with the youth and hunger of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma proves that LA can be excited this season with a team destined to make inroads into the play-offs, a franchise that hasn’t made it since 2013.
Throw in a stellar pre-season for Josh Hart at point guard and this Lakers team is showing strength in depth across all positions. For a man entering his 16th season in the league, LeBron is showing no signs of slowing down as he worked miracles to drag Cleveland into another Championship final last season. With fresh pieces by his side and an expectant Lakers faithful in full force, Lebron could just find a way up the top of the tree for his first season in the Western Conference. If you want a run for your money and a chance to enjoy the Lebron/Lakers circus, then you can back the Lakers with us at 12.7.
A wide open East
With LeBron leaving for the Lakers, the Eastern Conference has opened up significantly with many young, exciting rosters eager to make a Championship push, none more talented than the Boston Celtics. Boston entered the play-offs last year without their two strongest all-stars in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving yet managed to run Cleveland close in a 7-game thriller in the Eastern Conference finals. The outstanding rookie Jayson Tatum was formidable alongside 2nd year Jaylen Brown in their play-off run, inspired heavily by head coach Brad Stevens who continues to improve his current squad.
These young stars performed beyond their years to elevate Boston into an efficient unit, exemplified by an energetic defence that was a match for anyone despite the injuries. Currently the favourites to win the East at 1.88, Boston undoubtedly have the best squad and coach combination to see off the challenging pack. Whether they have enough star quality to compete with Golden State will depend on the development of their upcoming stars whilst staying healthy all throughout May and June.
Best of the Rest
Who else can make some noise?
Off the back of the coveted rookie of the year crown, Ben Simmons will be hoping to drive Philadelphia to glory with Joel Embiid and the rest of the support cast looking hungry in pre-season. Markelle Fultz has finally started to make shots consistently in practice whilst the acquisition of Wilson Chandler will provide some extra depth and experience needed to go deep in the play-offs. As long as Simmons and Embiid can stay fit come play-off time, the 76ers can challenge Boston in the East, priced at 4.57.
One of the craziest sagas in NBA trade history surrounded 2-time defensive player of the year Kawhi Leonard who some how found himself at Toronto for a year with DeMar DeRozan going the other way. Leonard seemed destined for LA and played hard ball for the move, but San Antonio held on for a trade that was arguably the best available at the time. With recent playoff disappointment, the Raptors felt the star player swap was necessary, but I’m not sure it will make them any closer to an Eastern Conference challenge. If you think Leonard can make that significant difference then you can back Toronto at 4.69 to win the Eastern Conference.
Rookie of the Year
No.1 draft pick DeAndre Ayton has made a solid start to his Phoenix Suns career in preseason and is currently the favourite for rookie of the year at 3.45, however the proven European sensation Luka Doncic makes his debut with Dallas after leaving Real Madrid a MVP Finals winner. Doncic will hit the ground running and should definitely be considered for Rookie of the year at 3.75.
Make sure to check out our full range of NBA markets, each game will have a number of player specials markets in the run up to the match starting.