NBA Championship betting Odds & contenders 2021 (Updated March) Can the LA Lakers retain their Title
As we look towards the second half of the 2021 NBA season, we think about all of the possible teams that could be lifting the NBA Championship title trophy in a few months. There are obviously a lot of teams in the mix this year, but which teams are ahead of the pack, and which are sitting on the outside looking in?
NBA Championship betting Odds
Let’s start off with the reigning NBA Champions.
Los Angeles Lakers
Starting off this list is the Los Angeles Lakers. They may not be the clear-cut favorites like they were last year, but the reigning NBA Champions deserve to be among the leading candidates to win the trophy yet again this year.
Somehow, this team came back even more talented than they were last season and have formed quick chemistry together. We all know what we are going to be getting from the superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but now that they have some consistent role players, this team could be unstoppable come the postseason.
James has been having arguably his best NBA season of his career, dishing it out to his teammates and even scoring the basketball at a very efficient rate. His leadership and contributions to this team also go far beyond what the stat sheet shows, as his defense has also improved a small bit compared to last season, seemingly putting more effort in.
Davis has missed the past few weeks because of an injured calf but was dominating once again before the injury occurred. Him and James form such a treacherous duo because they complement one another so well, picking up where the other leaves off on and off the floor.
Now looking past those two, the newly acquired Dennis Schroeder and Montrezl Harrell have been fantastic this year in scoring the basketball. You have to remember, each of those guys were the top two finishers in the sixth man of the year race last season, for the Lakers to have both of these guys is just incredible.
But that wasn’t even the only big-name pickup they got, snagging Marc Gasol from the Toronto Raptors to slot into a bench crew that is forming into one of the best in the entire league.
I believe that this team should be the overwhelming favorite but with the recent rise of a few other teams that we will get to in a second, they are definitely not a lock to win the championship like they were last season in the NBA Bubble.
Next up we have the Brooklyn Nets and if you have been listening to big news around the league you will know how talented this team is. They are boasting a star-studded starting lineup of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden while also sporting DeAndre Jordan as the starting center.
Durant is currently missing some time but his dominance on the court this year has been outstanding, he is knocking down jumpers all over the place and has provided solid defensive help on the other end. Not to mention the fact that he is the clear leader on the team this year.
Irving has brought very similar attributes to this Brooklyn team as well, scoring at an insanely efficient rate while being able to play off the ball to allow his superstar teammates to shine in one on one situations.
Then finally we get to Harden, who was traded over to the team a few weeks into this year and has been fantastic in every area of the game. He is functioning as the primary ball carrier for this team and is averaging a double double in points and assists, constantly finding open men when driving and whenever there isn’t someone open, he will simply take his signature step back three or drive to the cup for two points.
Combine all three of those guys on the court at the same time and it will be near impossible to keep up with them offensively.
However, that is their downside.
After trading away both Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, this team has badly needed some defensive firepower to boost that end of the floor as they currently rank towards the bottom of the league there.
The signing of former defensive Stallworth Andre Roberson is bound to help them out and they were also able to pick up Iman Shumpert, though he hasn’t played yet.
This team definitely has the best shot at defeating the Lakers in a seven-game series, with Durant beating LeBron a few years back to win the championship and Irving playing with LeBron in order to win that championship in Cleveland.
NBA Championship Outsiders (Longshots)
Now we find ourselves in the longshots to win the NBA Championship, although this next team isn’t much of a longshot. The Los Angeles Clippers bounce around being contender and pretenders very frequently actually but have looked like one of the best teams in the league so far this year.
The Los Angeles Clippers
Their combination of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George has been fantastic once again, forming one of the best defensive duos in the entire league.
Each of those guys are able to guard any position and have the length and quickness to come up with big time steals on point guards while locking down an opposing center in the paint. They are just as good on the offensive end also, Leonard has been outstanding in the pick and roll game, finding open men consistently while always being able to get to his spots and knock down jumpers at an efficient rate.
George has played up to those standards as well and does pretty much everything that Kawhi does which is what makes them so special on the floor together.
However, many critics don’t have any trust in George come playoff time as the past few seasons he has performed awfully after entering the postseason, maybe this year will be different for him.
Outside of those two they have a lot of good role players but nothing that sets them apart from the Lakers and Nets. Serge Ibaka was a terrific pick up in free agency to pair with Ivica Zubac in the paint but they lack consistency from their bench.
Lou Williams is always solid but hasn’t shot the ball very well this year, not to mention there isn’t any other true ball carrier in that unit outside of him.
I firmly believe that the Clippers will meet the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals barring a total collapse in the postseason like we saw from them last year against the Denver Nuggets. Although they have to prove their consistency if they want to be considered favorites to win it all.
The Utah Jazz
Here is where things get a bit interesting. The Utah Jazz are surprisingly NBA Championship contenders right now. This is virtually the exact same team that we saw choke a 3-1 series lead against the Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs last year, but they have a different feeling surrounding them this current season.
They have the best record in the league and are arguably playing the best basketball in the league as a whole. Donovan Mitchell has provided excellent leadership qualities and passing ability to compliment his ability to shoot and score effectively which normally always garners the attention of opposing defenses.
That leaves guys like Joe Ingles and Bojan Bogdanovic to go to work behind the three-point arc, knocking down three consistently or throwing one extra pass to a cutting Royce O’Neal or leading Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Rudy Gobert.
Speaking of Gobert, he has helped take this teams defense to a whole new level, because this team has so much chemistry and trust in one another, they can defend at a high level on the perimeter while leaving Gobert with all the work in the paint and that strategy has worked wonders.
Gobert is effective on offense but not that much, but can you blame him? He plays with such a talented supporting cast offensively that he doesn’t need to do much besides play defense and rebound.
Lastly, we get around to potential Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jordan Clarkson, he leads this teams second unit and always provides a spark when he walks onto the court. He is quick and speedy which is what makes him so dangerous one on one, especially when a center or power forward is stranded on an island with him while he goes to work offensively.
We haven’t seen any postseason success from this team lately which makes it hard to put them as favorites, but they should definitely be contenders based on their chemistry and confidence in themselves to take down anybody in the league. Utah can surprise a lot more people before this season comes to a close.
The Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks should also be considered contenders to win it all for the sole reason of having Giannis Antetokounmpo on their roster.
Giannis is having yet another fantastic season with some people even calling for him to be a three-time MVP at the end of the year. He is dominating the game on offense and on defense, with his shooting abilities improving as well. That makes teams step out to defend against him more only to see him use his strength and speed to fly right by them and score at the rim in traffic.
Now partner him up with another defensive minded guard in Jrue Holiday and an offensive threat in Khris Middleton and this team can compete. The only negative about this team is very similar to the Clippers, they consistently flame out in the playoffs.
Getting tossed out by the Miami Heat earlier than what they were hoping for last year. If Giannis is able to get himself into a rhythm in a postseason series and fix some of the issues that caused their loss last year, then there is no reason to believe this team won’t be in the Conference Finals at the very least.
The Bucks have also gotten good production out of their young guard Donte DiVincenzo, although he hasn’t been outstanding, he definitely gets the job done at both ends of the floor and takes some much-needed pressure off of Giannis and Middleton.
It would take a lot to get this team to the NBA Championship and win, including getting past the Philadelphia 76ers, the Brooklyn Nets, and possibly the Los Angeles Lakers. With Giannis on their team though, anything should be possible.
Lastly, we have a team that I recently mentioned in the Philadelphia 76ers. This team wasn’t very competitive last year and lost in five games to the Boston Celtics in the first round, but this team is completely different now.
Joel Embiid has come into this year looking like the leading MVP candidate, scoring the ball so efficiently and doing it all over the place while also putting up stellar numbers on the defensive end while anchoring down the paint.
They also have Ben Simmons back after he missed last postseason with him bringing elite perimeter defense that has him in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year. But that wasn’t their major change, they got a new head coach in Doc Rivers who is trying to change their culture by building around those two young players.
The team picked up Danny Green and Seth Curry in free agency to bolster their three-point shooting and bring another element of this team out. If Embiid gets cooking in the paint and the opposing team closes in to stop him, how are they going to be able to guard multiple sharpshooters out behind the three-point arc?
Rivers is building a very solid roster for those two guys and there have even been rumors that Kyle Lowry could be traded there before the deadline, making them even better.
Lastly, they have Matisse Thybulle who is another stud defensively along side Simmons, this team can play lock down defense while presenting the same offensive threats that other teams like the Bucks have. We could see this 76ers team come out of the East in a few months.
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