The end of the 2021-22 NBA season felt strangely familiar. For the first time since 2019, the Finals ended in June. And, after some new champions entered the equation for a few years, the Golden State Warriors are back on top. Already, the focus has shifted. We’re less than a week away from the draft and just two weeks away from free agency. Before the madness starts, it’s not too early to take a peek at who’s favored to win the 2023 NBA Finals.
Who’s Favored to Win the NBA Title in 2023?
Oddsmakers believe the Warriors have a serious chance to go back-to-back, as Golden State opens the offseason atop the list at +500. There isn’t a clear second to the Warriors, with both the Nets and Celtics coming in at +600 after Boston fell two wins short of a title. The Bucks (+750) and Suns (+800), who have followed similar paths with Finals appearances in 2020 and conference semifinal exits this spring, round out the top six along with the Clippers (+800).
The Heat and Mavericks are notably distant from the top teams despite reaching the conference finals this past season. Miami is +1400 to win it all, while Dallas is only +1600 and even with the Grizzlies (+1600) and 76ers (+1600).
Though the Lakers had the best title odds of any team in the West last fall, oddsmakers aren’t buying in this time – at least not yet. LeBron James’ squad is +2200, trailing six other Western Conference teams. Though both the Lakers and Nets disappointed this season, only Brooklyn is being given the benefit of the doubt after dealing with injuries and chaos from start to finish.
Some seem to be anticipating an offseason overhaul for the Jazz, as Utah enters the summer with +5000 odds – much closer to the middle of the pack than realistic contenders. The Jazz already lost coach Quin Snyder, who resigned earlier this month, and there has been speculation that Rudy Gobert could be next to go.
The Magic, Thunder, Rockets, and Kings are all tied for the worst championship odds at +100000. The Pacers and Pistons are just ahead at +75000. By no coincidence, those will be the first six teams on the clock in next week’s draft.
Who are Some Sleepers to Watch?
As the Celtics struggled to keep up with the Warriors, you couldn’t be blamed for wondering whether the Bucks would’ve been in their position if Khris Middleton had been healthy. Milwaukee won the 2021 title due in part to Middleton’s two-way abilities, and a healthy Middleton next spring might be enough to make the Bucks a championship favorite. At +750, behind the Nets and Celtics, they may be a great value.
The Clippers have high odds for a team that just missed the playoffs, but a healthy Kawhi Leonard and Paul George is worth paying attention to. Tyronn Lue has his guys play hard regardless of who’s on the court, and some star power could put LA right near the top of the West.
The Mavericks are a minor surprise at +1600. Despite a poor supporting cast surrounding Luka Doncic, Dallas took down the defending Western Conference champions and came three wins away from the Finals in Jason Kidd’s first season at the helm. The Mavericks already added Christian Wood, will be getting Tim Hardaway Jr. back, and still have the rest of the offseason to make moves. Though Jalen Brunson’s contract status may be the cause of some uncertainty, Dallas is at least worth a look as Doncic gets better and better.
I don’t think the Lakers will win a championship in 2023, but at +2200, there might be some value. Even though he’ll be 38, LeBron James is LeBron James. After a long offseason, what if he and Anthony Davis come out fresh and play like they did in 2020? What if they can offload Russell Westbrook and coach Darvin Ham transforms the team in year one? We saw how an older Warriors core thrived in the playoffs even after a couple of challenging years. LeBron has no shortage of championship experience. Does he have one more title run in him?