Brooklyn Nets open as 2021-22 NBA title favorites; Lakers, Bucks next

11:45 PM ET

Doug KezirianESPN

CloseESPN Sports Betting Analyst
Host of Daily Wager
Behind The Bets podcast host

Fresh off seeing an NBA champion crowned Tuesday night, oddsmakers have posted the Brooklyn Nets (+225) and Los Angeles Lakers (+400) as the betting favorites for the 2021-22 season.

The champion Milwaukee Bucks, who wrapped up the franchise’s first title since 1971 with a six-game Finals victory over the Phoenix Suns, have the next shortest odds at +900.

“This season, the Nets and Lakers drew so much more money than any other team,” Nick Bogdanovich, William Hill U.S. director of trading, told ESPN, reinforcing how liability on popular teams will always drive odds.

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Bogdanovich also indicated that talent is a factor.

“In a normal year, if those guys stay somewhat healthy, they definitely figure to be the best team,” Bogdanovich said of the Nets.

Perennial All-Stars Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving played only eight regular-season games together for Brooklyn. The Nets’ playoff run was disrupted in the Eastern Conference semifinals when Irving suffered an ankle injury and Harden battled a hamstring injury. They ultimately lost to the Bucks in overtime of Game 7.

In recent years, free agency has played an enormous role in the futures market. Sharp bettors have occasionally caught oddsmakers off guard, anticipating significant signings and pouncing on long odds, but this summer figures to be relatively quiet. Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul both can become free agents, as they hold player options on their current contracts. However, Leonard will be coming off surgery for a torn ACL, and Paul is 36.

2021-22 NBA championship oddsTeamOddsBrooklyn Nets+230Los Angeles Lakers+400Milwaukee Bucks+900Golden State Warriors+1000Phoenix Suns+1500Utah Jazz+1500Philadelphia 76ers+1800Los Angeles Clippers+2000Denver Nuggets+2500Atlanta Hawks+3000Miami Heat+3000Dallas Mavericks+3000Boston Celtics+5000Portland Trail Blazers+5000New York Knicks+6000Indiana Pacers+6000Toronto Raptors+6000Memphis Grizzlies+8000New Orleans Pelicans+8000Chicago Bulls+10000Charlotte Hornets+10000Washington Wizards+10000Sacramento Kings+25000San Antonio Spurs+25000Minnesota Timberwolves+30000Cleveland Cavaliers+30000Detroit Pistons+30000Orlando Magic+30000Houston Rockets+50000Oklahoma City Thunder+50000Odds by Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill

“We are anticipating that there will be more impact in the trade market than the free agent market,” Las Vegas SuperBook assistant manager and head NBA oddsmaker Jeff Sherman told ESPN. “Who knows if [Damian] Lillard is going to get dealt. If he ends up getting traded, then that would be bigger than any free agent out there.”

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons could also be traded, given how his postseason shooting struggles contributed to the conference’s top seed losing in seven games to the Atlanta Hawks in the East semifinals. The Sixers (18-1) would undoubtedly receive talent in return.

Phoenix reached the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993 and nearly cashed as title longshots in the neighborhood of 50-1. However, the Suns won’t sneak up on oddsmakers this time with 15-1 odds, which are the fifth-shortest.

“I don’t know what Chris Paul has left in the tank,” Bogdanovich said. “[Devin] Booker and [Deandre] Ayton are great to build around. This year was no fluke.”

The Golden State Warriors (10-1) did not even reach the playoffs, but they hold the fourth-shortest odds. Sharpshooter Klay Thompson is expected to return from an Achilles injury, and the Warriors could package their two lottery picks for a top-tier established player that would help them compete in the short term. Two-time MVP Stephen Curry is 33, and three-time All-Star Draymond Green is 31.

The preseason betting favorite has won the NBA title in four of the past six seasons. Over the past 35 seasons, only four teams have won the championship with odds of 15-1 or longer.

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