2017-2018 NBA Season Preview

 

Of all four major sports leagues, the NBA is the one where dynasties are most created. The Los Angeles Lakers won 5 championships in the 1980’s. The Lakers appeared in 8 championship series in the 80’s. The Boston Celtics won 3 championships in the 1980’s. The Celtics appeared in 5 total NBA Championship Series in the 80’s.

The 1990’s were all about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Amazingly, the Bulls won 6 NBA Championships in a single decade. The only times they didn’t win was when Michael Jordan’s baseball obsession affected the Bulls.

Are the Golden State Warriors a dynasty? The odds say that they are. Unlike last season, there are teams capable of taking down the mighty Warriors. In this 2017-2018 NBA season preview I look at the top 5 teams, based on NBA Championship odds, in both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference.

2017-2018 NBA Season Preview

Eastern Conference Preview

**All Odds to Win the 2018 NBA Championship

Cleveland Cavaliers          +400

If the chemistry works, Cleveland might end up a better team this season than they have been in the past couple of seasons. The Cavaliers won the NBA Championship in 2016 due to the amazing play of LeBron James.

LeBron’s a couple of years older. He’s still the best basketball player on the planet. James lost the second best players on last year’s  Cavs’ squad in Kyrie Irving. That won’t be an issue. The Cavs got terrific PG Isaiah Thomas in return. Although Thomas won’t return until late December, he’s a nice player in exchange for Irving. Not only that, but Cleveland signed Derrick Rose. When healthy, Rose is one of the top point-guards in the NBA. He’s a former NBA MVP.

Dwayne Wade also signed with the Cavs. Wade, a sure-fire first ballot NBA Hall of Fame Player, knows how to work with LeBron. Wade and The King won 2 championships together while in Miami. Adding Jae Crowder in the Irving deal is icing on the cake.

Betting Value: LeBron finally has the parts to simply be the best player on the court. He won’t have to play 3 different positions for Cleveland to win the Eastern Conference Championship. If Dwayne Wade stays healthy, he’s a Top 5 in the league player. Rose is a true point-guard while Crowder brings a frontcourt presence that the Cavs have only had in Tristan Thompson the past couple of seasons. 4 to 1 odds make Cleveland an overlay.

Boston Celtics                     +800

The Celtics made big moves during the off-season. The first, and likely most important, was signing Gordon Heyward away from the Utah Jazz. Heyward served as Utah’s primary offensive player. Although everyone knew the ball was going to Gordon, he still managed 22 points, close to 4 assists, and over 5 boards per game.

Heyward now gets to play with terrific scoring point-guard Kyrie Irving. GM Danny Ainge believes Irving is the key to the Celtics challenging the mighty Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference.

Betting Value:  Can Kyrie Irving do it? It might not matter. Irving and Heyward could have the best seasons of their careers. If shooting guard Jaylen Brown, whom the Celtics drafted third overall in the 2016 NBA Draft, doesn’t turn into a 20-point night player in the league, things could be tough for the Celtics. I’d expect more than 8 to 1 before biting.

Washington Wizards        +3300

John Wall might be the best point-guard in the NBA. He averaged 23 points, 4 boards, and close to 11 assists per game last season. Wall has a decent supporting cast. The supporting cast includes backcourt mate Bradley Beal who scores 23 points per while dishing close to 4 assists. Small forward Otto Porter Jr. averages 13.4 points. He also grabs 6.4 boards per. Those 3 must perform every night for the Wizards to get close to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference.

Betting Value: Notice I didn’t add the Cleveland Cavaliers when I wrote about the Wizards’ Top 3 needing to perform night in and night out to get close to Boston? Washington didn’t make any real changes to suggest they’ll contend in the Eastern Conference. If NBA Championship Futures’ players take the 33 to 1 odds, they’re doing so because they believe in John Wall.

Milwaukee Bucks               +5000

For season long NBA Fantasy Basketball fans, Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo is the dream pick. Most don’t expect Russell Westbrook to average a triple-double this season. That’s why they’re all over the Greek Freak. Antetokounmpo should improve upon his 23 points, 9 boards, 5 assists per game averages from a season ago. He also averaged close to 2 blocks and 2 steals a game last season.

If the Greek Freak gets more help from shooting guard Khris Middleton and point-guard Malcolm Brogdon, the Bucks should win more games in 2017-2018 then they won in 2016-2017. Middleton has talent while Brogdon played well in his rookie season at the point.

Betting Value: There’s just not a lot of betting value here. Sure, the Greek Freak is great. But, there’s nobody on the court that can help him enough for Milwaukee to possibly challenge the Celtics or the Cavaliers. It’s not going to happen. Even 100 to 1 odds aren’t worth a wager.

Toronto Raptors                 +5000

Toronto has one of the better backcourts in the NBA with DeMar DeRozan at shooting guard and Kyle Lowery at the point. Jonas Valanciunas is a decent center while Serge Ibaka has enough experience to help the Raptors to win a few playoff games this season. C.J. Miles, the former Indiana Pacers small forward, should work well as a starter in Toronto.

Betting Value: At 50 to 1, the Raptors are a much better choice than the Bucks. At least the Raptors have 2 NBA All-Stars, DeRozan and Lowery, in their starting 5. It’s hard to see Toronto taking it to Cleveland or Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals, though. Still, if NBA Futures players must bet on a longshot, the Raptors are that longshot.

Western Conference

Golden State Warriors      -160

Golden State made no changes. I wouldn’t have either after going 15 and 16 straight up in the NBA Playoffs and winning my second NBA Championship in the past 3 seasons. The Warriors are on the precipice of being one of the greatest NBA Teams of all time. What else is there to write? They’re the best team in the NBA.

Betting Odds: Golden State’s odds have held steady at less than even money since they held up the championship trophy this past summer. The Warriors are so good that it’s impossible for me to write that -160 odds aren’t fair. I mean, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry are enough. Adding Klay Thompson and Draymond Green is overkill. Then, you’ve got the deepest bench in the league.

-160 are fair odds. So, if that’s all an NBA futures player is looking for, by all means, jump on Golden State. But, if NBA futures players are looking for overlay odds, the rest of the Western Conference favorites aren’t too shabby.

Oklahoma City Thunder   +1200

Durant and Steph are great, but the reigning NBA MVP plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Russell Westbrook is Mr. Triple Double for a reason. He does everything well. What’s really exciting is that the Thunder didn’t go to sleep during the offseason.

OKC acquired one of the most underrated and best players in the NBA during the offseason in Paul George. He’s not only an unstoppable force on the offensive end. He’s also one of the better defensive players in the league. The Thunder also managed to acquire Carmelo Anthony. Melo can shoot lights out every night.

Andre Roberson is the perfect backcourt mate for Russell. Roberson is a defense first player. Steve Adams is a good defensive center who can now concentrate on what he does best, block shots and grab boards.

Betting Value: Oklahoma City should be no worse than +800 to win the NBA Championship. We don’t know how the Big 3 in OKC:  Russell, Melo, and George, are going to play together in an NBA game that means something. We can guess, though.

Westbrook not only averaged 31.6 points per game, he also averaged 10.4 assists per game. Russell was the only scoring option last season. What does it mean? Maybe, he dishes 12 assists per, lights up the scoreboard with 24 points per, and grabs only 8 boards per. Melo could average 24 points per, and grab 6 boards per. Paul George could average 23 points per, and grabs 7 boards per.

The Big 3 in OKC can work because Westbrook is a complete point-guard. I think the Thunder have a great chance of beating Golden State and then Cleveland for the NBA Championship. 12 to 1 are fantastic odds.

San Antonio Spurs              +1200

The Spurs made few changes during the offseason. Just like it was in the 2016-2017 NBA Season, San Antonio’s success rests on the play of Kawhi Leonard. Leonard averaged 25.5 points, 3.5 assists, and 5.8 boards per season. Aw Kawhi goes, so go the San Antonio Spurs.

Betting Value: At 12 to 1, there’s no betting value here. The Spurs are at 12 to 1 due to reputation, not facts. San Antonio’s best point-guard is Tony Parker. He’s listed third on their depth chart. If second-year player Dejounte Murray is the next Tony Parker, the Spurs might have a shot. 12 to odds aren’t worth expecting Murray to be the next Parker. 40 to 1 odds? Maybe.

Houston Rockets                 +1600

The new look Houston Rockets arguably made the most important move during the offseason. Houston acquired former L.A. Clipper point-guard Chris Paul. Paul is a pure point-guard. What it means is that James “The Beard” Harden can move back to shooting guard. Add underrated Trevor Ariza at small forward and up and coming center Clint Capela, what have you got? You’ve got a team that could challenge OKC and Golden State in the Western Conference.

Betting Advice: Houston is a much better choice at 16 to 1 than the Spurs are at 12 to 1. I have no doubt that the Rockets play better as a team with The Beard at shooting guard. CP3 doesn’t care to score. The Beard can double as the back-up point-guard when CP3 needs a rest. Eric Gordon can spell The Beard when he needs a rest.

At all times, either CP3 or James Harden can be on the court. That gives Houston a huge advantage over most of the other teams in the Western Conference. 16 to 1 are only fair odds, though. If NBA Futures players are wavering on the Rockets, expect more than 16 to 1 before pouncing.

Minnesota T’Wolves           +2800

The T’Wolves starting 5 is stacked. Center Karl-Anthony Towns is a 20 point, 10 board a night player. Small forward Andrew Wiggins can score at will. Shooting guard Jimmy Butler can also score at will. Point-guard Jeff Teague is one of the better basketball quarterbacks in the NBA. Taj Gibson is an underrated power forward.

Betting Value: If there’s any team that could make a huge splash this season, it’s the Minnesota Timberwolves. The T’Wolves are young enough to become great overnight. There’s no reason to believe that will happen. There’s also no reason to believe lightning can’t strike. Remember, Golden State wasn’t great until they became great. Who’s to say the T’Wolves don’t become great this season? 28 to 1 odds are sweet on the 2017-2018 Minnesota Timberwolves.

That’s it. No other team in the NBA appears capable of even challenging Golden State for the NBA Championship. The NBA Season starts on Oct. 17. Get ready for some excellent round ball action!