The 2020-2021 NBA season is just about two weeks away, and the preseason will be underway in much less time than that. It’s only been a few months since the 2019-2020 season concluded, but a lot has changed since the Lakers knocked off the Heat in the NBA Finals in October. Below you’ll find a comprehensive preview of the Western Conference for the upcoming year, in terms of the betting lines and odds changes, and you can click here to see the Eastern Conference version as well.
Western Conference Odds
The Los Angeles Lakers are the favorites to win both the Western Conference and to repeat as NBA Champions, and they enter 2020-2021 with a similar but improved roster from a season ago. Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell join the front court with Anthony Davis, while Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee exit. Even if this winds up being a mostly negligible swap, the Lakers got better in the backcourt by adding Dennis Schroder and Wesley Matthews. The Clippers were the Western Conference favorites for most of last season, but with these changes — and their recent finals win — the Lakers have claimed the top spot in terms of betting odds for this season.
Phoenix Suns: +7000 to +4000
Golden State: Warriors +800 to +3000
There have been plenty of big trades this offseason, but the one that seems to be having the largest impact on NBA futures betting is the Chris Paul deal that sent him from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Phoenix Suns. The Suns were already somewhat of a team on the rise, famously sweeping their bubble games to end last season — only to find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture anyway. It was an inconsistent season overall though, and bringing in a still-prolific veteran like Paul should only make them better. Ricky Rubio and Kelly Oubre Jr. were key pieces for the Suns to send back to the Thunder, but Rubio is obviously expendable with Paul around and Oubre actually missed much of last season anyway. The Suns are still a second-tier team in the West in terms of the betting odds, but they’ve made their way much further into contention as a result of this blockbuster move.
Going in the other direction are the Golden State Warriors, who were looking like an extremely obvious bounce-back candidate heading into the 2020-2021 season. The Warriors were primed to contend for an NBA title with a full season of Steph Curry, a No. 2 overall draft pick (James Wiseman) and Klay Thompson returning from ACL surgery. The outlook turned south before preseason even began, however, as Thompson suffered another devastating injury, this time to his achilles. With Thompson out for the year, the Warriors’ top-end talent obviously takes a big hit, but this is also a team without much depth — losing any starting player is going to have a big impact.
The Lakers are far and away the most popular bet to win the Western Conference this year, which shouldn’t really surprise anybody, but what is surprising is how low the betting handle is compared to some of the other teams. The Clippers are pretty low in terms of handle, too, with most of the money going to mid-tier of likely Western Conference Playoff teams. The Dallas Mavericks lead the way here, even though they have an extremely similar roster to that of last season. The one big move they did make this offseason was trading Seth Curry for Josh Richardson, but that alone probably doesn’t explain why the money is on them to come out of the West at 11 to 1. The bigger part of the story is probably just that Luka Doncic figures to keep improving. Even though Kristaps Porzingis is dealing with yet another injury, Doncic could be good enough to carry a team through the playoffs almost entirely on his own. If Porzingis does manage to stay healthy for a playoff run this year, it wouldn’t be too shocking to see the Mavericks pull off some postseason upsets.
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