Not all NBA contenders are made the same. We often hear about “contenders” and “pretenders,,a dichotomy of the ones who have realistic NBA odds and the ones who don’t. We elaborate on this system and create multiple tiers with the best bet on each.
The “Fab Five” of the 2022-23 NBA Season
- Boston Celtics +450
- Golden State Warriors +650
- Los Angeles Clippers +650
- Milwaukee Bucks +700
- Phoenix Suns +900
To no surprise, the Celtics and Warriors are two of the top three teams on the online sportsbook’s NBA outright odds. Boston, the runner-ups from last season, got better by adding Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari. The veterans give the team better scoring and depth while the Warriors, the champions, lost some in the offseason.
The Clippers will get Kawhi Leonard back while signing five-time All-Star John Wall. The team was plagued by injuries in 2021-22 but still managed to contend for a playoff spot. Milwaukee and Phoenix, the teams in the 2021 NBA Finals, are sneaky good bets here at their price.
But between the two, we like the Bucks as this team could have gone all the way had it not been for Khris Middleton’s injury in the playoffs.
The Swingers: Pretenders Turning into Contenders
- Brooklyn Nets +1200
- Miami Heat +1400
- Los Angeles Lakers +1400
- Philadelphia 76ers +1600
- Denver Nuggets +2000
The Nets and Lakers were last year’s preseason favorites to the NBA title. We know how that turned out. The two sides are bogged down by the drama and uncertain status of their superstars. At their current lines, we would not bet online on them. But once they are able to make the moves they want, we could see their lines change considerably.
Miami did not do much in the offseason. After getting exposed for its lack of offense, Miami’s inaction proved detrimental as they trend down the outrights board. Philadelphia, on the other hand, signed Tucker away from the Heat along with De’Anthony Melton from Memphis. With Harden gaining more chemistry with his teammates, Philadelphia could be trending up.
And stop us if you’ve heard this for the past two seasons: the Nuggets are this year’s dark horse team. But with the return of its two supporting stars plus an influx of veterans, Denver finally has the depth to help out two-time MVP Nikola Jokic.
The Young and Restless
- Dallas Mavericks +2200
- Memphis Grizzlies +2500
- New Orleans Pelicans +3000
- Minnesota Timberwolves +3300
- Toronto Raptors +4000
All the teams in this tier have many things in common. They are all relatively young and one major piece away from making a serious push for the NBA Championship. The Mavericks are hoping Christian Wood can become Luka Doncic’s supporting star while Memphis and New Orleans may still need more playoff experience.
Minnesota and Toronto are interesting cases. The former traded for Rudy Gobert, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. He should significantly improve Minnesota’s defense while relieving pressure from Karl-Anthony Towns.
For Toronto, they are sleepers in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes. But even without him, this team is the most mature of the group here and is one Scottie Barnes breakout from moving up a tier.
The Contenders … for the Playoffs
- Chicago Bulls +5000
- Atlanta Hawks +5000
- Cleveland Cavaliers +8000
- Portland Trail Blazers +10000
- New York Knicks +10000
- Charlotte Hornets +15000
- Utah Jazz +15000
Every team listed here should be happy if they make the playoffs. Two teams, in particular, Chicago and Atlanta, have higher aspirations. But the Bulls began to start slowing late last season and got bodied in the playoffs. We don’t see that changing. And while the Hawks got better with Dejounte Murray, we still don’t see them beating any of the upper-tier teams in the playoffs.
Victor Wembanyama’s NBA Team
- Washington Wizards +20000
- San Antonio Spurs +50000
- Sacramento Kings +50000
- Indiana Pacers +100000
- Oklahoma City Thunder +100000
- Detroit Pistons +100000
- Orlando Magic +100000
- Houston Rockets +100000
If you want to throw money away, throw a few bucks on these teams. They are not winning the NBA Championship this year or next year even when they get Victory Wembanyama. But as Kevin Garnett said… anything is possible!