NBA Season Preview

Golden State Warriors landed a third NBA Championship in four years last time out and Steph Curry and co are the team to beat again this season.

Golden State Warriors – NBA Championship outright @ 1.57

The Warriors have largely kept their star-studded team intact as their only big name departure is Zaza Pachulia, with the Georgian making the move to Detroit Pistons.

Pachulia has been an important part of their successes in the last two seasons at center, but GSW have brought in a more than capable replacement in four-time All Star DeMarcus Cousins from New Orleans Pelicans.

Providing Cousins fits in with the team – and there is no reason to feel he won’t – Steve Kerr’s men should be even stronger than last season and another Championship could be heading to the Oracle Arena.

Houston RocketsNBA Championship outright @ 9.00

If Golden State’s dominance is to be challenged their biggest threat could well come from a Western Conference rival.

Houston Rockets look the most likely to knock GSW off their perch after finishing at the top of the division last season – winning seven more games over the regular season than the Warriors.

The Rockets, who have 2018 MVP James Harden as their talisman, took the champions to seven games in the Conference Finals last season and held a 3-2 lead after five games. Houston also won the regular season series 2-1 and have to be considered as the most likely contender to deny Golden State a ‘three-peat’ in 2018-19.

Boston CelticsNBA Championship outright @ 7.00

The Eastern Conference is far weaker than the Western, but these teams won’t have to take on GSW until the Finals Series come the post-season.

Boston were narrowly beaten by Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs last year but they were missing two of their superstars.

Gordon Hayward, their marquee capture in the 2017 off-season, missed almost the entirety of the campaign after suffering a serious injury within six minutes of the start of Boston’s season opener against the Cavs.

Kyrie Irving also missed the playoffs but the Celtics still found a way through to the Conference Finals. In the absence of Hayward and Irving, the team’s younger players got a chance for more minutes on court and that should stand the Celtics in good stead when they need to call upon their bench in the season ahead.

Fellow Eastern Conference teams Philadelphia 76ers are 15.00 and Toronto Raptors are 17.00 respectively to win the Championship.  Both have quality rosters, but it would be a massive shock should either go all the way and land the top prize this year.

LA Lakers – NBA Championship outright @ 10.00

LeBron James sensationally joined the Lakers from Cleveland during the off-season, with four-time All Star Rajon Rondo also making the move to LA.

The Lakers missed out on the playoffs last season and the arrivals of James and Rondo should see them back in the postseason picture come the end of the campaign.

James dragged Cleveland to the Finals last season almost singlehandedly but at 33 he cannot be expected to repeat that feat again in LA.  There is a good chance the Lakers could be involved in the Championship conversation for sure, but with both the Warriors and the Rockets to contend with before any potential Finals series it is hard to see them going all the way, despite their impressive additions.

Houston Rockets – Western Conference Winners @ 6.00

The Rockets won the Western Conference last year and could well repeat the trick this season.  The arrival of 10-time All Star Carmelo Anthony is a major coup, even if he is now 34-years-old, and they were simply incredible during the regular season last term to deny GSW.

Admittedly it will take another monumental effort from Houston to finish ahead of the champions, with Golden State the 1.40 favourites, but we already know it is possible and at a big price looks a solid option if you’re looking for some real value.

Philadelphia 76ers – Eastern Conference Winners @ 4.00

Philly are improving with each season and their young squad are likely to step up another gear in the campaign ahead.

Joel Embiid is starting to look like a real star and the Sixers may well be able to finish ahead of Boston in the regular season.  The Celtics are 1.83 but will be wary of overusing Irving and Hayward after their injury issues and could opt to rest and rotate before a serious postseason bid – that may open the door for Philadelphia to end an 18-year wait for a Conference crown.

Oklahoma City Thunder – Northwest Division Winner @ 3.00

Oklahoma City Thunder are 34.00 for the NBA Championship but those odds would be a lot shorter if they were in the Eastern Conference.

Their team is a little unbalanced and they rely far too heavily on Russell Westbrook, who will miss the start of the season after an off-season operation.

However, the Thunder should at least be able to win the battle with their Northwest Division rivals and finish ahead of the likes of Utah Jazz (3.25) and Denver Nuggets (5.00).

Joel Embiid – Regular Season MVP @ 15.00

This is a big call but Embiid looks a good contender for MVP as an outside bet. The 24-year-old has been central to Philly’s rise and became an All-Star for the first time last season.

Harden is 6.00 and the reigning MVP is likely to have another huge season.  However, it would be no surprise if the Rockets tried to make more use of their roster and take the pressure off the 29-year-old, while Embiid will be key for the Sixers throughout the year.

Record six-time MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a center but it has been fairly rare for players in that position in the modern era to be crowned MVP – Shaquille O’Neal was the last in 2000 – and that is a concern, but if anyone is going to buck that trend it could well be Embiid.