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NBA Futures: Betting the 2021 NBA Championship

Scott Morris | February 24, 2021
NBA picks to win the championship

After winning the franchise’s 17th NBA championship in 2020, the Los Angeles Lakers opened the 2020-21 season as the favorite to repeat. While the Lakers are still the overall favorite, there has been some shifting of the odds to win this year’s title.

As the season nears its midpoint, it’s time for bettors to re-evaluate the NBA championship odds. A number of teams have what it takes to win an NBA title in 2021 and a handful of others are in prime position to pull what could be a major upset.

Here’s a look at the NBA futures market – the odds to win the 2021 NBA championship.

Lakers Still Favored

Los Angeles got some bad news when it was revealed that Anthony Davis would miss approximately four weeks with a calf/Achilles injury. Since Davis has left the lineup, the Lakers have lost three straight. One of those was a 127-124 loss to Washington, which is just 11-18 on the season.

The Lakers have dropped to third in the Eastern Conference with a 22-10 record. Still, they maintain the role of overall NBA favorite given +225 odds to repeat as champions. With LeBron James still in the lineup, it’s safe to say that the Lakers are still a strong bet.

Red Hot Jazz

If there has been one team that has really surprised the rest of the league, it has to be Utah. Now, everyone knew the Jazz were good, but not this good. The Jazz have won 10 of their last 11 games and 21 of their last 23.

What’s more impressive is how the Jazz have done it. Utah has covered the spread in nine of their last ten and in their last 22 games, the Jazz are 20-2-1 ATS.

Four of the team’s five losses this season have come against some of the better teams in the NBA. They lost at Brooklyn and at Denver and lost to the Clippers on Feb. 19 in L.A.

Despite all their success, Utah is given +775 odds to win this year’s NBA title. After the Lakers, there are still three other teams with more favorable odds to win than Utah.

The Nets Big Three

The biggest challenge to the Lakers repeat is to come from Brooklyn. The Nets finally got Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving together this season and then added James Harden via a trade. Those are three of the best players in the entire league … all on one team.

That’s why the Nets are listed at +320 to win it all. The franchise has never won much of anything, but if Durant, Irving, and Harden can stay healthy and play together enough this season, the Nets have a real shot at claiming their first-ever championship.

The Bucks Don’t Stop Here

Milwaukee has produced the NBA’s best overall regular season record in each of the past two seasons. The Bucks have two-time reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and most of the rest of their roster from last year intact.

Antetokounmpo is averaging 28.6 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game thus far this season. Khris Middleton adds 20.3 points a game and seven Bucks score in double figures. Milwaukee is second in the league in scoring, but they suffered through a recent five-game losing skid with Jrue Holiday out of the lineup.

If the Bucks can stay healthy and avoid any COVID-19 issues, they offer strong value at +750 at top sportsbooks. The Bucks are 19-11 and are just two games behind Eastern Conference leader Philadelphia.

Best Bet

The Los Angeles Clippers are the other team given odds better than Utah to win the NBA title. L.A. is 16-4 when both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are in the lineup. Two of the four losses were to Brooklyn and a third came against the Jazz.

The Clippers are a matchup nightmare for many teams, including Utah, because of their small-ball lineup. New head coach Tyronn Lue has played Markeif Morris at center with George, Leonard, Patrick Beverley, and Nicholaus Batum. That lineup has an offensive rating of 131.4 this season.

Los Angeles is 22-10 overall and they are listed at +510 to win the NBA title. They are better equipped this year than last having shed Montrezl Harrell. Currently, the Clips are first in their division and second in the Western Conference.

The Longshot

Looking for a longshot bet? Try Phoenix. The Suns are 9-1 in their last ten games. In their last four games, Phoenix has put up totals of 132, 128, 132, and 128. The Suns defense is improving as well. Phoenix is eighth in Defensive Efficiency and they are fourth in the league in points allowed per game (107.5).

Devin Booker (24.3 ppg) is a star and Chris Paul (16.6 ppg, 8.5 apg) is the glue that keeps this team together. Seven-footer Deandre Ayton is improving and the Suns would offer a nice payout at +3300 if they could pull off the upset.

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