The Raptors may have won the NBA title in 2019, but oddsmakers don’t believe they have what it takes to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy again just a couple years later. Even after an impressive showing in the NBA bubble, where the Raptors played far from their capabilities, sportsbooks are once again underrating them. Or are they just expecting the 2020 NBA offseason to swing in other teams’ favour?
It’s too early to judge. Commissioner Adam Silver isn’t even sure when the league will start or how games will be played. He hopes the league can organize a full season and host home and away games with limited fans, however negotiations between the league executives and the NBPA (National Basketball Players’ Association) are ongoing.
While we wait for all of that to sort itself out, here is how vegas views the Raptors in comparison with other teams in the chase for the 2021 NBA championship.
#1: Los Angeles Lakers (4.15)
The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA league title so convincingly that most bookmakers think they will do it again next year. Having LeBron James and Anthony Davis doesn’t hurt either. They started last season on a high note and remained consistent enough to win 52 of 71 games in the regular season.
Come playoff time, the Lake show didn’t slow down. They dominated their opponents left, right and center, losing only five out of 16 games.
|Golden State Warriors
Statistically, the Lakers are four times more likely to win the 2021 league title than the Raptors. These odds come from Betway, which is often recommended as a top gambling brand.
With that in mind, the Lakers are also favorites to become next season’s Western Conference champions. However, neither James or Davis is favored to clinch the regular season MVP award.
#2: Los Angeles Clippers (5.80)
Despite having been favoured to win the Larry OB last year, the Clippers hilariously imploded in the second round. After being clowned by NBA Twitter, and realizing that this year may be their last chance to make a legit title run for the next decade, they’re bringing in Tyronn Lue as their new head coach, and will look to surround Kawhi Leonard and Paul George with a different supporting cast.
That being said, the Clippers will need to work hard to prove that they can out their Los Angeles neighbors next season. They trail the Lakers in all traditional stat categories, and Kawhi’s load management style certainly won’t help forge team chemistry with whatever roster they roll out next year.
#3: Milwaukee Bucks (6.40)
After their stellar regular season performance, many people thought Milwaukee was a lock to make The Finals. Obviously, they fell short to Jimmy Butler’s Miami Heat, and were back at home by the time the Conference Finals came about. Still, some bookmakers think they could bounce back and better their record next season, especially if they can get Giannis some more help. Milwaukee is reportedly looking to add a high-impact guard, and is interested in Kyle Lowry, Chris Paul, or Victor Oladipo.
Regardless of whom they might add, the Greek Freak is the man to watch during next season’s regular season. Many sportsbooks are of the consensus he could win the MVP award and better Milwaukee’s playoff record.
#4: Golden State Warriors (7.05)
The Golden State Warriors dynasty tumbled down last year thanks to a slew of injuries on star players and the loss of Kevin Durant.
Now, the duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are back and some bookies think they could contend for the title once again. They also own the second overall pick in this year’s draft, where they could greatly solidify their centre position by selecting someone like James Wiseman, or add some more depth on the wing by going with someone like Deni Avdija, or Isaac Okoro. The Warriors finished last in the 2019-2020 season, so to see them win the championship next year would be incredible.
#5: Brooklyn Nets (8.00)
The Brooklyn Nets might feature Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and Caris LeVert, but not everyone is convinced that they can take down the Lakers or the Clippers next season. Their talent is obvious – it’s just a matter of whether their will be enough ball to go around to maximize that team’s potential. Given the concerns, they sit fifth in the order of title odds.
At the same time, unexpected things happen in sports, as NBA fans know very well. Everyone thought that the Boston Celtics, the Raptors, or the Bucks would appear in this year’s finals. Rather, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, and the Miami Heat were able to push LeBron to six games. Nevertheless, the Nets still have respectable odds of becoming the Eastern Conference winner, trailing only the Bucks.
#6: Boston Celtics (12.30)
The Boston Celtics seem to always be in the mix, and rightfully so. Next year, they’ll likely bring back a similar roster to what got them to this year’s Eastern Conference Finals. Barring a trade involving Gordon Hayward that might be able to land them an elite big man – such as Rudy Gobert, or even Andre Drummond – they’re not in the same echelon as Brooklyn or Milwaukee yet.
Still, their core of Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum can compete with anyone, especially with the latter two gaining another year of experience under their belts.
#7: Miami Heat (13.50)
The bookies might have dropped the ball on this one. The Miami Heat were criminally underrated last season. And they proved everyone wrong by fighting until the sixth game of The Finals.
This year, Herro, Nunn, and Adebayo will come back a little bit better. Jimmy Butler isn’t going anywhere, and Goran Dragic will likely re-sign and be back to full health. They may even look to add more star power, as they’ve been linked to Danilo Gallinari for a while, who hits the open market this autumn. There’s no reason Miami can’t fight for the championship again next year.
#8: Toronto Raptors (17.20)
For the entire 2019-2020 season, the Toronto Raptors were right up there with the NBA’s elite. They had the second best regular season record with 53 wins, they had the second ranked defense in the league, Nick Nurse was exploiting all of his competition, their depth was unmatched, and so was their heart. That was until the NBA bubble however, where it seemed that all came crashing down. Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet were a mere shadow of themselves, and Kyle Lowry could only put the team on his back for so long.
This offseason, several key pieces from Toronto’s championship roster are set to join the free agent pool. That may be one of the factors in why Toronto’s championship odds are so low. Serge Ibaka, Fred VanVleet, and Marc Gasol all have the freedom to find new teams, however both Ibaka and VanVleet have shown interest in coming back to Toronto.