Here’s our 2021 NBA Power Rankings going into the NBA All-Star break

 

We are at the midway mark of this season’s unique NBA schedule. This break in the schedule is as a good time to evaluate which teams are contenders and the pretenders as anytime.

A handful of the teams that we predicted to be NBA championship-worthy have fallen short while others that were overlooked have risen to the top. Let’s rank the teams from No. 1 through No. 30 and reveal the odds and the top free NBA Picks on each to win the world championship this season.

The Contenders

  1. Utah Jazz (+700) – The Jazz aren’t battle-tested and lack experience, so the team from Salt Lake led by Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, and Rudy Gobert might not be there when the dust settles three months from now. That said, right now, the Jazz are absolute fire at home and own the best record in the NBA so we have to put them at the top of the list.
  2. Los Angeles Lakers (+280) – The Lakers proved they were mortal when Anthony Davis reaggravated his Achilles and immediately dropped four of five with the big man sidelined. However, the Lakers have gotten back on track and are the odds-on-favorite to repeat as world champs.
  3. Brooklyn Nets (+300) – Offensively, the three-headed monster of Harden, Durant, and Irving is the most lethal in the league but can these egos continue to  coexist, can they dig down defensively when the time comes, and do they have enough bench depth to see them all the way through to the finals?
  4. Los Angeles Clippers (+550) – Their more celebrated neighbors steal all the headlines but this Clippers’ team shouldn’t be underestimated, particularly with Kawhi and company on a redemption tour after they exited the playoffs earlier than expected last season.
  5. Milwaukee Bucks (+800) – The Greek Freak is having another monster season and the Bucks could very well be the Eastern Conference entry into the NBA Finals and nobody would be surprised.
  6. Philadelphia 76ers (+1200) – Joel Embiid has elevated his game this season and the 76ers are better because of it. They currently own the best record in the East but until they prove they can do it in the postseason, we remain unconvinced.
  7. Phoenix Suns (+3300) – The Suns have never won a world championship and have done nothing but lose for over a decade. But a new day is dawning in the desert and the confluence of all their young talent with an 11-time All-Star in veteran Chris Paul has the makings of a Cinderella story.

The Pretenders

  1. Boston Celtics (+2800) – Boston is undeniably the most disappointing team this season, treading water at about .500 for a team that has arguably the two most talented youngsters in the league by the names of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The only slack we will cut the Shamrocks is that their defensive wizard, Marcus Smart, has been sidelined for much of the season but when he returns Boston needs to improve…in a hurry!
  2. Portland Trail Blazers (+6000) – Damian Lillard is a scoring machine but without help from CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, the Blazers can be bested on any given night. But wait until the duo returns and then you will see Portland takes its rightful place among the Western Conference leaders.
  3. Denver Nuggets (+2800) – Mercurial might be the best adjective to describe this iteration of the Denver Nuggets but whatever you call them, they are certainly a talented squad that tends to lapse against teams they should easily handle.
  4. San Antonio Spurs (+12,500) – The Spurs missed the playoffs for the first time in forever last season but Gregg Popovich has his charges back on track and intent on atoning for their first losing season in 22 years. DeMar DeRozan has been a world-beater this season for the Spurs and this team is doing everything right that they did wrong last year.
  5. Miami Heat (+2800) – It would seem reasonable that last year’s Eastern Conference champions would be considered a stunning disappointment with a .500 record at the midpoint of the following season. However, they were never expected to get that far and the fact that they are not performing at a championship level this year surprises no one except their most ardent fans.

The Rest of the Bunch

  1. Golden State Warriors (+10000)
  2. Toronto Raptors (+4000)
  3. New York Knicks (+15000 )
  4. Dallas Mavericks (+5000)
  5. Indiana Pacers (+6600)
  6. Atlanta Hawks (+15000)
  7. Memphis Grizzlies (+15000)
  8. New Orleans Pelicans (+15000)
  9. Washington Wizards (+15000)
  10. Charlotte Hornets (+20000)
  11. Chicago Bulls (+30000)
  12. Houston Rockets (+40000)
  13. Orlando Magic (+40000)
  14. Cleveland Cavaliers (+50000)
  15. Sacramento Kings (+60000)
  16. Detroit Pistons (+100000)
  17. Oklahoma City Thunder (+100000)
  18. Minnesota Timberwolves (+150000)

 

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2019 NBA Futures: All roads lead though the West (again)

The last time an NBA team was swept in the finals was back in 2007 … it was the Cleveland Cavaliers getting trounced by a younger Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. Well, unfortunately for the town of Cleveland, not only do they own the Browns, but they own two of the nine NBA finals sweeps—and they are back to back.

The problem isn’t with the Cleveland Cavaliers though. The issue is that the Golden State Warriors look like basketball playing robots from another dimension, a superhuman one. And things don’t look like they are going to change much over in ‘The Town.’ Kevin Durant has stated that he is going to resign for another season. You better believe that the nucleus that makes up these unstoppable Warriors of Golden State will stay intact; they want the three-peat.

Futures Odds on the 2019 NBA Title

After checking Bookmaker a few days ago, we found odds on all of the teams and their implied probability to win the NBA Title in 2019. The top ten candidates according to Las Vegas and top online sites like Bookmaker are:

  • Golden State: +120 (45.5%)
  • Houston +450 (18.2%)
  • Philadelphia +500 (16.7%)
  • Boston Celtics + 650 (13.3%)
  • Los Angeles Lakers + 1400 (6.7%)
  • San Antonio Spurs +2000 (4.8%)
  • Cleveland Cavaliers +2500 (3.8%)
  • Miami Heat +5000 (2.0%)
  • New Orleans Pelicans +5000 (2.0%)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder +5000 (2.0%)

The funny thing is that as of today, the sportsbooks have pulled the NBA Futures lines —don’t worry they will put them back up soon—so we have to assume that they have received some information that is critical to their mathematical process.

Of course, we see that the Warriors once again lead the way. They are far and away favorites to win in 2019. But what is most interesting to me is the fact that the Las Angeles Lakers are suddenly in the conversation. This leads me to believe that there is some insider info telling the money people in Vegas that Lebron will land in LA.

Low and behold, Bookmaker just released odds on where Lebron James will go this offseason, and the Lakers are -140 favorites. The next closest team is Philly at +400. This means Las Vegas believes that there is a 58.3% chance that Lebron will sign with Luke and the lakers.

With all of this back-room yammering that must be going on about the Lakers and Lebron. I still don’t see how this would make them real contenders. Lebron had Love, Korver, Smith, Hill, Thompson, and a slew of other talented players and still could take down the Warriors. How would going to a team that plays very little defense be any better?

It is all about those little intangible things that create a rare occurrence of dynamics that make the best team. It isn’t always the best player or best players … but the best team. The only other teams that currently have this type of intangible thing going are the Rockets and the Raptors. The Raptors know who they are, but they just don’t quite have the talent to beat Golden State. The Rockets, on the other hand, might have taken down GSW if Chris Paul the 3rd didn’t go down and miss Game 7.

Futures Assessment

Looking at where the futures were (it remains to be seen what they become), I believe that the Rockets should actually be closer to +250 and then everyone else nudged back some more … the closest competition out of the east right now shouldn’t be set higher than +600 (six to one). Maybe if Lebron goes to the 76ers, they might have a shot. But again how will he mesh? Philly has a good thing going on. Would Lebron just be a cog in their wheel?

In 2019 all roads lead through Houston and Golden State. Whoever wins the West wins again.

 

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