The longest NBA season, followed by the shortest NBA offseason, is in the books. Preseason play is underway and already, it's time to make NBA picks and predictions for the 2020-21 campaign. Just 71 days will have elapsed between the Los Angeles Lakers clinching the NBA title via a Game 6 NBA Finals win over the Miami Heat on Oct. 11 and the 2020-21 season openers on Dec. 22. The COVID-19 interrupted season lasted a record 355 days.
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- The Los Angeles Lakers are +210 favorites to repeat as NBA champions in 2020-21
- Four teams have repeated as NBA champs since 2000
- Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks is the +350 chalk to be named NBA MVP
They say that history repeats itself and in the case of the NBA, that's certainly proven to be the case. While teams in other sports struggle to follow up a championship run with another title-winning performance, NBA teams have mastered this art.
Since 2000, four clubs have managed to win successive NBA Finals. That list includes a pair of Lakers squads. They wore back-to-back crowns in 2008-09 and 2009-10 and assembled a threepeat of titles from 2000-02. The Golden State Warriors (2016-17, 2017-18) and Miami Heat (2011-12, 2012-13) also repeated as champions.
That being the case, even taking into account the short offseason, it's difficult to look past LeBron James and the Lakers as the team to beat in the NBA Finals odds.
|Los Angeles Lakers||+210||+260||+250|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+650||+675||+575|
Depth will be a vital quality for any team seeking to win in 2020-21. Even with a vaccine on the horizon, it's likely that COVID-19 will still loom large over the upcoming season. Load management has become a catchphrase in NBA circles and for teams that were forced to grind through the playoff run in the bubble, managing the minutes of key players will prove essential.
With the NBA start date on December 22 ...— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 10, 2020
🔹 The Lakers and Heats' offseason: 71 days
🔹 The teams that didn't make the bubble: 285 days pic.twitter.com/tlPhIyggmM
Recognizing this fact of life, the Lakers made a trio of astute offseason acquisitions. LA's depth is much better thanks to the arrival of Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell, and Dennis Schroder.
How The West Will Be Won
It's hard to believe that a team already with the 1-2 punch of King James and Anthony Davis got better but that's exactly what the Lakers did. Originally drafted by the Lakers in 2007, Gasol, a future Hall of Famer, will finally play for them. The 35-year-old center averaged 9.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks during Toronto's 2019 title run.
Harrell and Schroder are both perennial contenders for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award and will keep LA's offense percolating when they come off the bench. The Lake Show is listing as +125 favorites to capture the Western Conference title in the 1920-21 NBA odds.
It will also aid the Lakers that LA's main combatants in the Western Conference are dealing with disruption. The Los Angeles Clippers lost Harrell and are replacing coach Doc Rivers with Tyronn Lue.
In Houston, the Rockets broke up the James Harden-Russell Westbrook experiment after one year. Houston continues to have a problem piecing together a winning puzzle and has lengthened to +2000 to win the West.
The Denver Nuggets loom on the horizon as the next big thing out west. Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic are sensational players, but do they have enough bench strength to pursue a title?
Nets Being Overrated
There's a lot of love out there in NBA Vegas odds for the Brooklyn Nets (+250 to win the East), and that's understandable. It's also misplaced.
Kevin Durant, coming back from a season on the sidelines due to the ruptured Achilles tendon, will finally pair up with the mercurial Kyrie Irving. On top of that, former MVP Steve Nash is the Nets' new coach.
However, as exciting as Nash and the Phoenix Suns were in Nash's heyday, it should also be remembered that they never delivered the goods in the postseason. Historically, Irving can be as much a detriment as an asset to his team. Will there be enough basketballs on the floor for him and Durant to co-exist?
if i’m Steve Nash i’m bringing headphones and a newspaper to every game. just let me know if yall need me, i’ll be over here.pic.twitter.com/nNTnabFTOn— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) December 13, 2020
The Milwaukee Bucks appear destined to be the Rockets of the Eastern Conference and flame out every year in the playoffs. Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is a superstar and Jrue Holiday is an intriguing addition to the Bucks backcourt. Milwaukee needs to display more offensive diversity, and how much will the Greek Freak's ongoing contract situation - he's eligible for free agency at season's end - prove to be a distraction?
In Boston, a lack of depth will be an issue, but you know where it won't be? In Miami. The young Heat won the East last season on the basis of their deep roster. They went to the NBA Finals despite enduring injuries that left them without Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic for at least a portion of the postseason.
An Intriguing MVP Race
Luka Doncic has looked to be a budding superstar from the moment he arrived in the NBA as the third overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft. Oddsmakers are anticipating a coronation this season. Dallas Mavericks guard Doncic is the +350 chalk to win the MVP in the NBA picks.
Doncic posted a league-leading 17 triple-doubles last season while averaging 28.8 points, 8.8 assists, and 9.4 rebounds. He does it all, but his team will need to step up their game. Since 1975-76, only two players have won the MVP on a team that failed to win at least 50 games.
It's probably better to cast your lot with a player on an elite squad. Davis took a bit of time to adjust to his new life with the Lakers and still averaged 26.1 points and 9.3 rebounds.
He was sixth in MVP balloting. This season, he could go over the top.
Where To Bet On NBA Futures
There are a number of leading online sports betting sites that will provide bettors the chance to place a wager on NBA futures. The best bet you can make is to shop around in advance and seek out the best deal before joining one of these sportsbooks. Check out BetUS and MyBookie as examples.
The signup bonus offers that are in place at all of these recommended sites will prove advantageous to the bettor. And since you'll get a good deal wherever you go, why not shop around and find the best fit for your needs?
There’s nothing like the NBA. Where else does everything you love happen in one place? Only here.— NBA (@NBA) December 10, 2020
Season begins December 22nd. Watch on ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV. #OnlyHere #KiaTipOff20 pic.twitter.com/2FzsB8ir0n
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