Paris may be the city that never sleeps, but the NBA has become the league that never rests. The Association had its busiest and most memorable offseason ever thanks to a flurry of surprising trades and free-agent signings. Kyrie Irving bolted for Boston, Lonzo Ball landed in Los Angeles, and half of the league’s stars packed up their wagons and headed West. In fact, the exodus of star power was so significant that the NBA was forced to reformat its All-Star Game to avoid an embarrassingly lopsided East vs. West massacre.
We’ve been carefully tracking all of the league’s most notable offseason moves and have the odds on how they’ll impact the NBA landscape in 2017-18. We also have odds and props on the most promising rookies, the most inept coaches, and the team most likely to be left crying in its Gatorade as the Warriors celebrate their third championship in four seasons.
TITLE AND AWARDS ODDS
2018 NBA Title Odds
- Golden State Warriors: 19/20
- Cleveland Cavaliers: 11/1
- Boston Celtics: 12/1
- Oklahoma City Thunder: 13/1
- Houston Rockets: 15/1
- San Antonio Spurs: 25/1
- Minnesota Timberwolves: 28/1
- Washington Wizards: 50/1
- Toronto Raptors: 66/1
- Philadelphia 76ers: 66/1
- Milwaukee Bucks: 75/1
- Miami Heat: 100/1
- Los Angeles Clippers: 100/1
- New Orleans Pelicans: 125/1
- Denver Nuggets: 150/1
- Utah Jazz: 200/1
- Portland Trail Blazers: 200/1
- Memphis Grizzlies: 300/1
- Charlotte Hornets: 300/1
- Los Angeles Lakers: 500/1
- Detroit Pistons: 500/1
- Dallas Mavericks: 500/1
- Indian Pacers: 500/1
- Phoenix Suns: 500/1
- Sacramento Kings: 500/1
- Atlanta Hawks: 1000/1
- Orlando Magic: 1000/1
- Brooklyn Nets: 1000/1
- New York Knicks: 1000/1
- Chicago Bulls: 1000/1
The 2017-18 season is shaping up to be Golden State against the world. While several other teams scrambled to join the NBA’s arms race this summer, the defending champs quietly and efficiently went about their business. They added highly-touted Oregon center Jordan Bell, re-signed Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee, and David West, and added sharpshooter Nick Young and glue guy Omri Casspi to round out the league’s deepest rotation. Whether you think peak Warriors was the team that won a record-breaking 73 games two years ago or the team that went 16-1 in the playoffs and outscored their opponents by a combined 230 points last season, this year’s squad might be even better.
2018 NBA Title Odds: Warriors & Cavs vs. the Field
- Warriors & Cavaliers: 2/3
- FIELD: 3/2
Yup, these guys again. The Warriors were already slightly better than even-money to win versus the other 29 teams in the league. When you add in the second-choice Cavaliers, the odds for te field drop all the way to 3/2 (or 40%). Get used to hearing about the Warriors and Cavs all season long as they continue their march to a fourth straight finals matchup.
Odds to Meet in the 2018 NBA Finals
- Cavs vs. Warriors: 2/1
- Celtics vs. Warriors: 9/2
- Cavs vs. Thunder: 7/1
- Celtics vs. Thunder: 9/1
- Cavs vs. Rockets: 11/1
- Cavs vs. Spurs: 12/1
- Celtics vs. Rockets: 30/1
- Wizards vs. Warriors: 50/1
- Raptors vs. Warriors: 100/1
- Cavs vs. Timberwolves: 1000/1
- FIELD: 25/1
A million things could happen between now and June, but if the 2017-18 season plays out like we think it will, we’ll all be watching the Cavs and the Warriors for the fourth consecutive year. The names on the front of the jerseys will be the same, but there will be plenty of new faces to shake things up. Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, and Isaiah Thomas have all come onboard for Cleveland, and the Cavs could have a drastically different look if they start Kevin Love at the five and bring Tristan Thompson off the bench. We still like the Warriors chances, but the 2018 finals could be a tightly-contested affair rather than further evidence of the NBA’s competitive imbalance.
Odds to Win MVP
- Kwahi Leonard (Spurs): 7/2
- LeBron James (Cavs): 9/2
- Kevin Durant (Warriors): 7/1
- Russell Westbrook (Thunder): 9/1
- Kyrie Irving (Celtics): 10/1
- James Harden (Rockets): 15/1
- Giannis Antetekoumnpo (Bucks): 15/1
- Jimmy Butler (Timberwolves): 22/1
- Anthony Davis (Pelicans): 25/1
- Steph Curry: 30/1
- FIELD: 20/1
Don’t be surprised to see Kawhi Leonard at the top of the list. The 25-year-old forward makes steady contributions on both sides of the ball, ranking in the top ten in scoring, steals, offensive real plus-minus, and PER last season, while finishing third in Defensive Player of the Year voting. Unlike many of the others names listed, Leonard doesn’t have an in-his-prime All-Star teammate to ease his considerable burden. Night after night, he has to guard the opposing team’s most talented wing while still being counted on to pour in 25 points and take the biggest shots down the stretch. That sounds like the very definition of the most valuable player in our books.
Odds to Win Rookie of the Year
- Lonzo Ball (Lakers): 5/2
- Ben Simmons (76ers): 4/1
- Markelle Fultz (76ers): 5/1
- Dennis Smith Jr. (Mavs): 7/1
- Josh Jackson (Suns): 15/1
- Jason Tatum (Celtics): 20/1
- Kyle Kuzma (Lakers): 25/1
- De’Aaron Fox (Kings): 50/1
- FIELD: 20/1
We knew that Lonzo Ball would be at the top of our list the moment he was selected by the Lakers, but the real surprise here is the emergence of his teammate, Kyle Kuzma. The Utah product was something of an afterthought when he was included in the Brook Lopez trade, but he could easily be the biggest steal of the draft. Kuzma was named the MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League Championship Game and has averaged 21.0 points per game in his first three preseason games. The Lakers love his ability to guard threes and fours and his three-point stroke has been a revelation. Lonzo Ball is still our pick for ROY, but Kuzma is the player that insiders will be talking about all season long.
Odds to Lead the NBA in Scoring
- Anthony Davis (Pelicans): 4/1
- Kevin Durant (Warriors): 5/1
- DeMar DeRozan (Raptors): 6/1
- James Harden (Rockets): 8/1
- LeBron James (Cavs): 12/1
- Russell Westbrook (Thunder): 15/1
- Kyrie Irving (Celtics): 17/1
- Devin Booker (Suns): 20/1
- Giannis Antetekoumnpo (Bucks): 25/1
- Blake Griffin (Clippers): 30/1
- FIELD: 15/1
Many pundits expected Anthony Davis’ scoring to plummet when the team acquired DeMarcus Cousins, but the opposite was true. The Brow’s average actually increased from 27.7 PPG to 28.6 PPG after the All-Star break and it should remain around the same thanks to the return of Jrue Holiday and the signing of pass-happy point guard Rajon Rondo.
If Davis goes into a slump, Kevin Durant will be right there to pick up his fifth scoring title. KD averaged 28.5 points per game throughout the playoffs and should be even better in his second season with the Warriors now that the team’s pecking order has been firmly established.
Odds to Lead the NBA in Assists
- Russell Westbrook (Thunder): 9/2
- Chris Paul (Rockets): 5/1
- John Wall (Wizards): 6/1
- Lonzo Ball (Lakers): 7/1
- LeBron James (Cavs): 9/1
- Ben Simmons (76ers): 12/1
- Draymond Green (Warriors): 15/1
- James Harden (Rockets): 25/1
- FIELD: 11/1
James Harden will be the biggest beneficiary of Chris Paul’s arrival in Houston, but his assist totals may take a big hit. Harden led the NBA in dimes a season ago, but will likely have the ball in his hands far less with Paul directing the offense. That new dynamic could open the door for Westbrook, who has finished in the top five in assists in six of the last seven season.
Odds on Highest Scoring Average with New Team
- Kyrie Irving (Celtics): 2/1
- Paul George (Thunder): 7/2
- Jimmy Butler (Timberwolves): 6/1
- Paul Millsap (Nuggets): 7/1
- Gordon Hayward (Celtics): 10/1
- Isaiah Thomas (Cavs): 12/1
- Carmelo Anthony (Thunder): 20/1
- Chris Paul (Rockets): 25/1
No player has more to prove this season than Kyrie Irving. The four-time All-Star forced his way out of Cleveland to be the face of his own franchise and now he’ll have to justify that decision on a nightly basis. It’s a tall order, but Irving has shown an uncanny ability to fill the basket, evidenced by his career-high 25.2 points per game last season. Look for that average to go up a point or two as he takes on even more offensive responsibility in Beantown.
Over/Under Combined PPG of Teammates in 2017-18
- Westbrook/Anthony/George (Thunder): 74
- Durant/Curry/Thompson (Warriors): 72.5
- James/Thomas/Love (Cavaliers): 69.5
- Hayward/Irving/Horford (Celtics): 62.5
- Harden/Paul/Gordon (Rockets): 61.5
KD, Steph, and Klay’s brief run as the highest scoring trio in the NBA could come to an end this season thanks to the new kids in town in OKC. Carmelo Anthony and Paul George are perennial 20-point per game scorers and should both benefit from the extra attention that Russell Westbrooks attracts. Their three-point shooting won’t remind anyone of the Warriors, but they should be able to outscore and out-muscle the opposition on any given night.
ODDS ON THE UNFORTUNATES
First Coach Fired Odds
- Jeff Hornacek (Knicks): 7/2
- Fred Hoiberg (Bulls): 4/1
- Nate McMillan (Pacers): 5/1
- Alvin Gentry (Pelicans): 7/1
- Kenny Atkinson (Nets): 10/1
- Dwane Casey (Raptors): 15/1
- Frank Vogel (Magic): 20/1
- Doc Rivers (Clippers): 25/1
- Terry Stotts (Trail Blazers): 50/1
- Steve Clifford (Hornets): 75/1
- FIELD: 75/1
Jeff Hornacek’s seat is so hot it’s setting off fire alarms as far away as Coney Island. The embattled Knicks coach went 31-51 during his first season and will have his work cut out for him this year as he oversees a roster long on talent but short on experience. The team’s average age is just 25.9 years old and there will be plenty of nights when everything that can go wrong will go wrong. We hope for his sake that he opted to rent rather than buy.
Odds to Finish with NBA’s Worst Record
- Chicago Bulls: 5/2
- New York Knicks: 7/2
- Brooklyn Nets: 5/1
- Orlando Magic: 9/1
- Atlanta Hawks: 10/1
- Phoenix Suns: 12/1
- Sacramento Kings: 20/1
- FIELD: 100/1
Chicago recently topped our list of the NBA Teams Mostly Likely to Regress. The Bulls traded Jimmy Butler for spare parts in the offseason and recently allowed Dwyane Wade to leave for Cleveland to begin chapter two of his bromance with LeBron James. The team’s roster is now littered with players who aren’t even household names in their own households. This season won’t be pretty, but it could be worth the misery if the Bulls land Michael Porter or Marvin Bagley in the draft.
Odds on First Team Fined Resting Players
- San Antonio Spurs: 3/2
- Cleveland Cavaliers: 4/1
- Golden State Warriors: 9/1
- Houston Rockets: 15/1
- Boston Celtics: 18/1
- Oklahoma City Thunder: 25/1
- FIELD: 6/1
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Gregg Popovich, it’s that he doesn’t like being told what to do. That’s been evident over the years in the painfully awkward in-game interviews he grants and in how he carefully paces his starters during the regular season. Don’t be surprised if he thumbs his nose at the NBA’s new regulations on resting players during nationally-televised games; he’ll take the financial hit to have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge fresh for a playoff run in April.
Over/Under Games Played for Joel Embiid in 2017-18: 55.5
Joel Embiid’s professional career has featured more stops and starts than a garbage truck. The Cameroonian Center missed the first two seasons of his career with a broken navicular bone and was limited to 31 games last season due to a meniscus tear in his left knee. He underwent minor arthroscopic surgery on March 24th and was only cleared for five-on-five scrimmaging last Thursday.
The early reports on his progress have been positive, but the Sixers are taking a “hyper conservative” approach to his recovery and will likely hold it out from back-to-back games all season long. Trust the process and, perhaps more importantly, trust Philly’s physiotherapists.
Odds Kyrie Irving Outscores LeBron James on Opening Night (Celtics at Cavaliers): 2/3
Opening Night could be a no-holds barred grudge match as Kyrie Irving returns to Quicken Loans Arena to face his former teammates. The four-time All-Star forced his way out of Cleveland in the summer and has continued to fan the flames with his less-than-flattering comments about the King. Expect him to use the game to showcase his exceptional one-on-one abilities and to prove to LeBron – and the world – that he’s capable of leading a team of his own to victory.
Odds to Score the Most Points on Opening Night (Rockets at Warriors)
- Steph Curry (Warriors): 2/1
- Kevin Durant (Warriors): 3/1
- James Harden (Rockets): 9/2
- Klay Thompson (Warriors): 7/1
- Chris Paul (Rockets): 20/1
- FIELD: 12/1
The opening night tip-off between the Warriors and Rockets could be an old-fashioned track meet as both teams look to run one another off the court. The clubs finished one-two in scoring last season and could be even more lethal this year with the additions of Chris Paul in Houston and Nick Young in Golden State. Frankly, any number of players could lead the charge, but we’re picking Steph Curry. The two-time MVP has had five 50-point games in his career and holds the NBA record for most games with at least 12 three-pointers made.
Over/Under Opening Night Total Score (Rockets at Warriors): 230.5
Over/Under Points for Carmelo Anthony vs. Knicks (October 19): 25.5
Melo will be looking for a little bit of vindication when he takes on his former team for the first time on in late October. The Knicks, and Phil Jackson in particular, did everything but stick a fork in their ten-time All-Star last season. Expect him to turn back the clock with a vintage inside-outside performance against one of the league’s most clueless defenses.
Odds on LeBron James’ 2018-19 Team
- Cleveland Cavaliers: 2/1
- Los Angeles Lakers: 5/2
- Los Angeles Clippers: 9/2
- FIELD: 4/1
NBA Insider Peter Vecsey recently claimed that LeBron James will “unequivocally” join the Lakers in free agency and “return the team to L.A. Lore status.” It’s an interesting narrative, but we’re not entirely sold. LeBron has such a strong connection to northeast Ohio; does he really want to sever ties with his home state a second time? This is, after all, the same player who penned a love letter to his birthplace in Sports Illustrated less than three years ago when he announced his return. “Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio,” he wrote. “It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. My relationship with Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.” Those sound like the words of a man who has no intention of leaving for greener pastures.
Over/Under Date of Lonzo Ball’s First Triple-Double: Oct. 20 (Game 2)
Ball recorded a pair of triple-doubles in Summer League and it feels like it’s just a matter of when – not if – he’ll put up his first monster stat line in the NBA. We’re personally eyeing the Lakers’ October 20 showdown with the Suns as the most likely date for his first of many triple-doubles. The Lakers will be playing the Suns in Phoenix that evening and both teams have wide-open, fast-breaking offenses that generate tons of possessions and, more often than not, plenty of rebounds.
Over/Under Number of Games before LaVar Ball Publicly Criticizes Luke Walton: 15.5
Luke Walton appears to have a positive relationship with LaVar Ball, but that could change the moment he benches his son for throwing a behind-the-back pass into the third row. It might not even take that much. The famously temperamental LaVar might give Walton a tongue lashing just to hear his own voice. Expect their first dust-up to happen quickly, and then be forgotten just as fast as LaVar finds something new to rant about.