A wild offseason that included LeBron James switching conferences for the first time in his career, the Warriors adding yet another All-Star, and Paul George shocking the league by staying with Oklahoma City has ended in, of all places, Toronto.
The Raptors packaged All-Star DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected first round pick in exchange for disgruntled All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard and guard Danny Green. The Eastern Conference certainly changed when LeBron took his talents to Hollywood. But it opened up an Eastern Conference that now could be surprisingly tight at the top.
With Leonard (and Green) joining a Raptors team that won 59 games a year ago, combined with the Celtics getting healthy and the young Sixers gaining another year of experience, the path to the NBA Finals in the East should be a riveting one for fans and basketball betting fans alike.
Yes, the Warriors are still the class of the NBA, and the Rockets, Lakers and Thunder are true contenders. But once you’re in the Finals it becomes a single seven-game series. So here’s a look at the most important odds in the East on 888sport, and how they shifted post-Kawhi deal.
Adding a two-time champion and Finals MVP will do wonders for your chances of winning a title. The Raptors were around 60 to 1 at most books before dealing for Leonard, who’s just one year removed from a First Team All-NBA campaign.
Toronto won 59 games a year ago and was the top seed in the East. And while they had to deal DeRozan, Leonard is a massive upgrade. Assuming he’s healthy and buys in to the system, a core of Kyle Lowry, Leonard and Serge Ibaka is pretty talented. Add in role players like OG Anunoby, the acquired Danny Green, Fred VanVleet and Jonas Valanciunas and you’ve got the makings of a top-3 team in the East again.
Toronto Raptors Current Odds Of Winning NBA Title: +1700
No team had a better package of assets with which to deal for Leonard than the Sixers. Ultimately the Spurs opted for win-now talent in DeRozan, or perhaps the Sixers didn’t want to break up their core. Still, they’ve got arguably the conference’s best player in Joel Embiid, the Rookie of the Year in Ben Simmons (sorry, Donovan Mitchell) and bring back a majority of their depth chart.
Plus, last year’s No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz will have had an entirely healthy offseason under his belt. Expect him to make a huge leap in Year 2. The 52-win Sixers aren’t getting enough love, and this is still our favorite bet in the East.
Philadelphia 76ers Current Odds Of Winning NBA Title: +1400
Boston’s odds take a slight dip with Leonard’s arrival in Toronto. Still, there’s a reason they’re the favorites in the LeBron-less East. They’ve advanced to the Conference Finals each of the last two years and will get back All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.
Toss in Al Horford and young guns Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier – plus Brad Stevens manning the team – and it feels like only injuries will keep this team from the top seed in the East. Stevens’ biggest task might be finding the right combination of minutes for the deepest roster in the conference. It’s a good problem to have.
Boston Celtics Current Odds Of Winning NBA Title: +525
Yes, the Pacers are a true wild card. But to get 100:1 odds on a team on the rise that quietly had a fantastic offseason is a steal. The Pacers won 48 games a year ago thanks to Most Improved Player Victor Oladipo and didn’t really get much from Myles Turner, who never seemed right after a concussion in October. That’s a solid 1-2 punch along with Darren Collison and Bojan Bogdanovic, and they took LeBron to seven games in last year’s playoffs.
But then consider they added Tyreke Evans and Doug McDermott in free agency and drafted Aaron Holiday, who averaged 14.5 points and 6.8 assists in the Las Vegas Summer League. They’ll seriously contend for home court in the playoffs, and their arrow is pointing up with a young core and a busy offseason. No one thought they’d sniff the playoffs last year and they won 48 games. No one thinks they’ll sniff the Finals this year…
Indiana Pacers Current Odds Of Winning NBA Title: +10,000
Just how good can Giannis Antetokounmpo get? We’re about to find out. He was an All-Star two years ago, and an All-Pro last year averaging 27 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. To think that he’s just 23 years old and not anywhere near his ceiling is terrifying. Maybe 2018 is when he makes a LeBron/Kevin Durant-type leap to super stardom.
The Bucks have a worthy supporting cast for him in Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe, and they signed Ersan Ilyasova and Brook Lopez to shore up the frontcourt and provide more outside shooting. The Bucks are probably a few years away from truly contending, but they’re entering a new arena and the Greek Freak simply keeps getting better. It’s worth a tiny wager that could yield massive dividends.
Milwaukee Bucks Current Odds Of Winning NBA Title: +10,000