Now that the 2018-19 season has reached its end, we flash ahead to next season, and the teams with the best chances to win. And you’ll notice for the first time in four years, the Warriors will not be on the list of favorites.
1) Lakers (3/1)
After their acquisition of Anthony Davis last night, the Lakers vaulted into the favorite position. LeBron James now has another bonafide star on his team, and there could be more to come. They have only five total players under contract at the moment, so they will have to use late-round picks and free agency to re-make their roster to their own personal vision. But still, when you have two of the top six players in the league on one team, it doesn’t matter who else you have, which the Warriors proved in 2018. So long as you’re healthy. And if they are, they should be finishing the year as champions.
2) Bucks (6/1)
This is an extremely talented group who blew a 2-0 lead against the Raptors in the ECF. And now, they have another chance next year to look to make it to the NBA Finals. We saw this year with LBJ out of the East, the conference became wide open, and various teams stayed competitive with a chance to move on. Philadelphia was a win away from the conference finals, so had they won, we could be singing a different tune. As long as they manage to maintain Brogdon/Middleton, and re-sign Lopez (or get a better big man), Giannis should be able to lead his team far in the playoffs again.
3) Clippers (7/1)
The Clippers place here is totally predicated on what they decide to do this offseason, as they have quite a few decisions to make. They didn’t pull the trigger on AD, so they are able to keep their young core intact. But again, their spot here is totally contingent upon them signing Kawhi Leonard, who just delivered a title to the Toronto Raptors. Patrick Beverley may bolt, which would really hurt their defense. It’s a strong Clippers team that should be in the postseason no matter how you slice it, but to have a chance at a title, Kawhi is going to have to take his talent here, and possibly bring a “friend.”
4) Rockets (8/1)
The fourth best odds, and third in the West, belongs to H-Town. James Harden is coming off another magnificent year, while we saw Chris Paul take a significant step back in the postseason. The team has been rumored as likely to move one of PJ Tucker, Eric Gordon, and Clint Capela. The best move, if they had to, would be to move Gordon to get a three-and-D wing player who can also take it off the dribble. The Warriors were in their way for each of the past two years, so with them decimated with injuries, the Rockets will have the chance they have been needing.