The Golden State Warriors, who have won three NBA titles in the past four seasons, have looked rather mortal thus far in the 2018/19 season. They’ve suffered a rare losing streak and have been challenged at the top of the Western Conference. Two-time MVP Steph Curry hasn’t played since November 8 due to injury, and Draymond Green (also banged up) and Kevin Durant nearly came to blows.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
Who cares? Oddsmakers don’t, as the Warriors are still heavy -160 favorites to win another title. Talent trumps all in the NBA, and at full strength with Curry, Durant, Green, Klay Thompson and whenever All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins is ready off surgery, the Warriors simply have way more talent than anyone else. They don’t care one iota about regular-season success.
The only way Golden State is supplanted as the title betting favorite during the regular season is if Curry or Durant suffers a season-ending injury.
With the offseason trade addition of Kawhi Leonard, the Toronto Raptors might have their best team ever, and they enter the Thanksgiving mini-break with the shortest championship odds in the East at +850. The Raptors have never reached the NBA Finals and it might take at least that to convince Leonard to re-sign this offseason. That is arguably the deepest roster in the NBA right now, though.
Boston opened the year as the East favorite but is now just behind Toronto at +900 to win the NBA title. The Celtics still have the most talented roster in the East but have been struggling to reincorporate Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward a bit. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have both taken steps back this year. The Celtics should be fine eventually.
The biggest in-season trade thus far was the Philadelphia 76ers acquiring All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Philly is now +1300 on the title odds. Butler makes the 76ers better, but he also cost them depth in two starters (Robert Covington and Dario Saric) and doesn’t solve the Sixers’ three-point issues. Then there’s the whole Markelle Fultz problem, who is hurt again and still can’t shoot.
LeBron James‘ Los Angeles Lakers are +2200 to win it all and could find it tough simply to make the postseason in the loaded Western Conference. The San Antonio Spurs, who traded Leonard to Toronto, are way down at +6000 and would miss the playoffs if they started today. The last time the Spurs didn’t play extra basketball was in the 1996/97 season.