Last season was one of the most surprising and dramatic NBA Championships in recent years, as the Milwaukee Bucks surprised everyone (apart from Charles Barkley) by winning the chip, defeating the Phoenix Suns in the Final after edging out the Brooklyn Nets, while injuries hampered the chances of the big favorites LA Lakers. So what will the 2021/22 season hold for hoops fans? Let’s have a look at this 2021/22 NBA futures analysis.
|Golden State Warriors||+1100||+1000||+1200|
The arrival of the Big Three in Brooklyn last season threatened to shift the balance in the NBA and bettors are once again going all in on the Nets despite what happened last time. Brooklyn are rated as the clear favorites for the title, though the Lakers, who now have a Big Three of their own are not far behind.
There’s less love for defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks, who are generally rated as third favorites in the Championship betting, while the Golden State Warriors head a small group on the next tier of the market, including Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers, Utah Jazz, and the Denver Nuggets.
Milwaukee were written off last season and it looks like history is repeating itself. The Nets are regarded as the big favorites, but that looks like a dangerous proposition for reasons that we will discuss later one. Meanwhile, the fact that Giannis Antetokounmpo and co landed the big prize last time round is not being given its due weight of significance, and some bettors are overlooking how important that was.
The criticism of the Bucks and Giannis had always been that they dominated in the regular season but were easy to counteract in the play-offs. The arrivals of Jrue Holliday and Eric Bledsoe made the Bucks a far more rounded team, and led by Giannis, they dug deep to get the job done. With major doubts over the Nets, the Bucks have a great chance of at least coming out of the East.
The story of last season’s Lakers was all about Anthony Davis. Without the big man and his main partner in crime, LeBron James was left to fight an ultimately losing battle. So what did the Lakers do? They reconstructed the entire roster, bringing in the energy and drive of the admirable Russell Westbrook and a host of solid pieces in free agency, including Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, DeAndre Jordan and the re-signed Rajon Rondo, a key player in their 2020 title run.
That is a formidable array of talent, but it may have to be. Golden State Warriors will have the Splash Brothers back in harness, and the Western Conference is packed with gritty, improving franchises, like last year’s finalists Phoenix Suns, Nicola Jokic’s Denver Nuggets, Kawhi Leonard’s Clippers, the Utah Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks. Lakers are the favorites but taking them at a short price may not offer much value, so I’m taking a chance on the experience of the Warriors.
We need to talk about Brooklyn. Kevin Durant plus James Harden plus Kyrie Irving is as good as it gets. But it looks increasingly like Kyrie will not be involved. His stance on getting the vaccine has left the Nets no choice but to freeze him out, as he won’t be able to take part in home games or practice because of the vaccine mandate in New York. Without him, the Nets are still formidable, but have they done enough to fix their defense? I’m not sure and backing them at short odds to just outscore everyone seems risky.
There has even been talk that James Harden is considering testing the market in Free Agency, which has reignited the interest of Philadelphia. But the 76ers have problems of their own in the form of Ben Simmons. His determination to leave, despite having signed a four-year contract leaves Philly in a mess and team harmony in tatters. With Atlanta no certainties to repeat their 2020/21 heroics and Miami still short, Milwaukee have to be the best bet in the East right now.
I can’t back Brooklyn for the Championship given the situation with Kyrie, and taking anyone at short odds in the stacked Western Conference may not be wise. That leaves us with a choice: play it safe with Milwaukee or take a bigger-priced option to come out of the West.
In a head-to-head contest, is there much to choose between the Davis-LeBron-Westbrook Lakers and the Steph-Klay-Drummond Warriors? Golden State were, after all, the Super Team who inherited that title from LeBron’s Cavaliers. There is certainly a case to be made for Golden State at the current odds, so I’d be inclined to back them along with the Bucks as a little extra insurance.