Last month we discussed 2016/17 NBA futures, with Golden State being slight favorites to win next year at +210. This was a bit ahead of the champion Cleveland Cavaliers, who sat at +275 odds. What a difference a few weeks make, though, since Golden State landed the prize of the summer free agent crop – Kevin Durant.
We discussed how Durant would dramatically impact any team’s odds that he signed with. However, our thinking was that the 2014 MVP would stay put with the Oklahoma City Thunder for at least one more year. But he shocked many by signing with the team that beat his Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.
This now gives Golden State reigning two-time MVP Steph Curry, All-Stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, and the 2014 MVP in Durant. It doesn’t hurt that the team has also attracted veterans Zaza Pachulia and David West through cheap contracts.
These moves have pushed Golden State’s odds of winning the championship down to -150. This means that if you bet $150 on the Warriors, they have to secure the Larry O’Brien trophy for you to earn a $100 profit.
Winning the NBA championship seems like a lot for just a $100 profit in this situation. But there may be no team in the last two decades that’s more of a shoo-in to win the NBA title than the Warriors. Is anybody capable of challenging them? We’ll discuss this below along with some other contenders’ odds and who they’ve picked up in free agency.
Cleveland Cavaliers +200
One month after their surprise win over Golden State, which involved being the only finals team to recover from a 3-1 deficit, Cleveland already finds themselves an underdog in the new season. There were rumors that Dwyane Wade showed interest, but these were squashed when he signed with the Chicago Bulls. However, the Bulls had to clear cap room for their new star, so they shipped Mike Dunleavy to the Cavs for a second-round pick or an overseas player. Cleveland could also trade for Nick Young if they can’t re-sign J.R. Smith. Neither of these are huge moves, but at least Cleveland returns their Big 3 from a championship squad.
San Antonio Spurs +600
San Antonio quietly gained a big upgrade by signing Pau Gasol. The Spaniard may be 36, but he’s coming off a strong season with the Bulls, and his maturity will fit in with the Spurs’ culture. Boris Diaw was shipped out to make room for Gasol’s salary, and future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan is leaning towards retirement, but the team is still undeniably better with Gasol at center.
The Celtics have been searching for another star to pair with All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas. And they finally got one in All-Star center Al Horford, who averaged 15.3 PPG and 7.2 RPG. Horford may not be Durant – the free agent that everybody coveted, including Boston – but he’ll definitely provide more firepower to the Celtics.
LA Clippers +3000
The Clippers have been busy re-signing their own players, inking deals with Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford. Los Angeles won’t land any prize free agents, but they’ll be looking for a backup center since Cole Aldrich left. The Clippers were a title contender before injuries and a suspension stalled Blake Griffin’s season. With their main core back for another year, L.A. looks forward to rejoining the serious contender group.
Toronto Raptors +4000
The Raptors breathed a sigh of relief after re-signing star guard DeMar DeRozan to a max contract. But they’ve been quiet in the free agency market ever since, losing backup center Bismack Biyombo in the process. The good thing for Toronto, though, is that they have the core of DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, DeMarre Carroll, Jonas Valanciunas, and Terrence Ross back for another season.
Oklahoma City Thunder +5000
Durant’s old team may miss their former leading scorer, but they aren’t totally out of title contention. Russell Westbrook is drawing early MVP consideration since he’ll be the unquestioned leader of this team. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will be manning the middle again, while Dion Waiters will be back in a key role. New additions Victor Oladipo and Ersan Ilyasova should also be big contributors in the upcoming season.