Who are the favourites for the 2021 NBA title?
Odds and preview ahead of the 2020-21 NBA Season
Just 72 days after the Los Angeles Lakers won their 17th championship in the 2020 NBA Finals, a brand new season of basketball gets underway stateside.
There are some minor changes to the season, with the regular 82-game schedule reduced to just 72 games to accommodate for a late start, before we return to the regular 16-team playoff format at the end of the season.
We’ve seen some major roster changes through the offseason too, including defending champions Lakers as they look to go back-to-back for the first time since 2010.
Before Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors tip-off in the first game of the season, we’re taking a look at the top four contenders for the Larry O’Brien trophy this season.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis teamed up to win the Lakers their first NBA Championship in eight years in their first season together last season, but General Manager Rob Pelinka hasn’t just sat on last season’s success.
Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, Danny Green and JaVale McGee among others made way to clear up roster space for the likes of Montrezl Harrell, Wesley Matthews and Marc Gasol to bolster the squad for this season’s run.
As well as that, Anthony Davis, fresh off averaging 26.1 points per game last season, re-signed with the West Coast side. He forms part of a new and improved ‘big-three’ alongside James and recent arrival Dennis Schroder.
Consistency could be key to the Lakers run this season, with the health and fitness of the squad integral to their title defence. We’ve already seen what they’re able to do when at their best last season, and with the offseason moves they’ve been able to make, they’re 11/2 to go back-to-back.
James impressed in his 17th professional season, and they could look to lean of his experience and quality again this campaign. He’s 9/1 to win his fifth regular season MVP award.
It feels like a long time ago since Kevin Durant made the headlines, announcing his departure from Golden State Warriors in a move to team up with Kyrie Irving in New York.
But finally, after an injury-ridden season last campaign, the two look set to be able to finally team up and give Brooklyn a shot at the title that they’ve been waiting for since their move across the Hudson River in 2012.
The Nets have finally moved to replace former head coach Kenny Atkinson after four years in charge, with NBA Hall of Famer Steve Nash taking over for his first role in management.
It’s hard to predict what to expect from the Nets roster this season, with Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris expected to line up alongside Irving and Durant. The question is, just how well can they bed into the team and gel?
They’ll have some decent options off the bench too in DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie and Jeff Green, but their title challenge will be down to whether they can get the best from their main two stars, especially Durant.
Will he repeat the heroics we saw him produce at the Warriors, or will the Achilles’ tendon injury that kept him out for the entirety of last season have taken its toll on his game?
The Lakers’ city rivals Los Angeles Clippers were widely expected to challenge harder than they did last season, but after giving up a 3-1 lead against Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals, they didn’t live up to the hype.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George remain for a second term, with expectations equally as high this season as they were last.
There’s been a change at the top with former head coach Doc Rivers stepping aside and being replaced by former Laker Tyronn Lue, a two-time Champion as a player and claiming the 2016 NBA Championship as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Lou Williams, Marcus Morris and Patrick Beverley remain on the Clippers strong roster, but they’ve been further strengthened with the addition of a couple of big men in the offseason.
Nicolas Batum ended his five-year stint with Charlotte Hornets to get his chance to win a championship, while 2019 NBA Champion Serge Ibaka left Toronto Raptors to team up with Leonard again for another run at a second ring.
Did the disruption of the pandemic derail Milwaukee’s bid for last year’s championship? It has been cited as a possible reason for their failure, but they won’t be passing the blame off to anything other than their performances.
We saw a noticeable drop off in the Bucks dominance once the NBA returned last season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and co. failing to adapt to life at Walt Disney World and life in the NBA postseason bubble.
But after Giannis signed the largest deal in NBA history in the offseason, they’re ready to go again, with Mike Budenholzer ready for his third season in the hot seat.
Bobby Portis switched life at league strugglers New York Knicks for a spot on the Bucks roster, alongside standout addition Jrue Holiday, forming a ‘big-three’ alongside Khris Middleton and Giannis to rival that of the Lakers.
But they’ve not had roster moves all their own way, with Robin Lopez, an integral part of the balance of the team last season, moving on to Washington Wizards, as well as losing Wesley Matthews to title rivals LA Lakers.
Giannis has gone from strength-to-strength year on year recently, and he’s 9/2 to pick up his third regular season MVP award on the bounce, with only Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic favoured.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.