Life isn’t fair and neither is the NBA. Some folks, like some NBA teams, have a tougher path to achieving success and glory. No matter how you cut it, not every NBA team has an equal shot and that’s reflected with how lopsided the six divisions are.
We look at these NBA divisions and rank them from the worst to the best using the likelihood of each producing an NBA title-worthy team based on the NBA betting odds.
NBA Division Title Chances
6. Southwest Division
Once upon a time, the Southwest was the NBA’s best division. However, hard times have fallen on two of three Texas teams. San Antonio and Houston are each in a deep rebuild. The last Texas team, Dallas, is an outside contender for the NBA title and has yet to move past the first round.
New Orleans and Memphis could be improved and are playoff contenders but long shots to win the title when betting online. On the bright side, this division features plenty of future superstars like Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson.
5. Southeast Division
Unlike the Southwest, this division has historically been “Losersville” with perennial also-rans like Orlando and Charlotte and playoff fodder like Atlanta and Washington. Miami remains the best team here and the addition of star guard Kyle Lowry only further cements the Heat as the undisputed kings.
But the Atlanta Hawks, fresh off a conference finals run, could be in for a 50-win season. Charlotte should make some noise, having stockpiled a battalion of promising prospects, while Orlando is also a young team on the rise. Washington is the least sexy of the teams but it does have Bradley Beal, arguably the best player in the division.
4. Northwest Division
This division may not produce an NBA champion, but it could sire up to four teams in the playoff picture. Utah and Denver are shoo-ins for the playoffs and have an outside shot to make the NBA Finals. Denver has the reigning MVP in Nikola Jokic while Utah posted the NBA’s best record last season.
Portland will remain relevant for as long as Damian Lillard stays with the team. Minnesota should be better and may contend for a play-in spot. Oklahoma City is rebuilding and will likely be a popular team to bet against on the sportsbook.
3. Central Division
The Central is not as deep as the Northwest but it does house the reigning NBA champions in the Milwaukee Bucks. They are once again a top-three team in the title picture and are a tier above everyone here. But the rest aren’t too shabby.
Before the NFL regular season kicks off I just want to remind everyone that the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Championship in six games back in July and it was awesome. pic.twitter.com/Ugnak0Rb10
— Aaron Larson (@aalarson) September 9, 2021
The Indiana Pacers get coach Rick Carlisle back and if he can work his magic, this team could surprise everyone with a 50-win season. Chicago caused plenty of hoopla in the offseason with big moves and should at least be fun to watch. Cleveland and Detroit will remain bad but have plenty of quality prospects.
2. Atlantic Division
Edged out by the Pacific, the Atlantic is the second-best in the NBA and may do something no other division can: send all five teams to the playoffs. Even the division’s “weakest” team, the Toronto Raptors, could still win 50 games if they stayed healthy.
Boston and New York are expected to make the playoffs at a minimum. The Celtics reloaded and have a new coach, while the Knicks had their best season in eight years under coach Tom Thibodeau. And of course, we can expect Philadelphia and Brooklyn to be NBA title threats.
1. Pacific Division
Most NBA betting previews will have the Los Angeles Lakers as the pick to win the NBA title. They lead the division that features three other heavyweights: the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors. Coming in last is Sacramento, which remains a hapless franchise but could pull the occasional upset.
The Lakers did an overhaul of its roster, including the acquisition of superstar guard Russell Westbrook. The Suns are fresh off an NBA Finals appearance while the Clippers got the furthest they’ve ever been as a franchise last season. Golden State remains a wild card and can go on a title run if it gets hot.