2020 NBA Championship Futures: Are the Lakers a Good Bet after the Addition of Anthony Davis?
Anthony Davis’ move to LA has shifted the balance of power in the Western Conference
With the ink on the Anthony Davis trade deal between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Lakers close to drying, it leaves many questions regarding the NBA futures market. From the headline alone, it’s clear that the 2020 NBA Title odds are in favor of the Lakers taking the entire championship.
However, does one blockbuster trade mean that Los Angeles can make a legitimate run towards the Finals in the 2019-20 season? Perhaps even more importantly, is there better value in putting money on another top contender—or should we forget the favorites and consider an underdog?
Los Angeles Lakers (+350)
In order to acquire Davis, the Lakers had to give up Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and Brandon Ingram—plus their only first-round pick for the 2019 NBA Draft. While the Lakers are +350 to win it all next season, one should note that they have yet to sign any complementary pieces to their roster alongside Lebron James, Davis, and Kyle Kuzma. It has been known for over a year now that Anthony Davis wanted to join Lebron in LA, but what is still unknown is if any other players would like to do the same. Kyrie Irving’s sudden departure from the Cavaliers and Lebron after the 2016-2017 season quickly created the narrative that “players no longer want to play with Lebron James.” While this may or may not be true, the Lakers’ front office unrest also does not help attract free agents.
With Magic Johnson stepping down from his GM position abruptly after controversy with Rob Pelinka, it is unclear if the latter can be trusted to make the deals necessary to build a championship team. With Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving all being free agents that the Lakers will be courting this off season, it seems that a Lebron-AD duo will have to be the main selling point to land one of them. When considering these factors, plus the fact that the Lakers went 37-45 and have had six consecutive losing seasons, I would not consider last year's No. 10 seed in the West my personal favorite to win the 2020 title at their current +350 odds. The value in betting on the Lakers to win the 2020 NBA Championship will be dependent on if they can secure value with their second-round picks in the draft, while also freeing up cap space with other trades.
On a side note, the season win total for the Lakers is set at 54.5. This is rather high considering that the starting roster has only three projected starters right now, and the team went UNDER last season’s 48.5 season total. The most wins for the Lakers in franchise history was during the 2010-11 season, where the team posted a 57-25 record. Being that the 2019-20 season win total for the Lakers would mean winning an additional 17.5 games from last year, I would take the UNDER.
Milwaukee Bucks (+500)
It was surprising at first to see that the Milwaukee Bucks have +500 odds to win the 2020 NBA Championship. However, clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference in 2019 has not gone unnoticed by the betting public. Unlike the Lakers and Pelicans that have made big moves, it has been relatively quiet in Milwaukee thus far this offseason. The Bucks hold the 30th overall selection in this year’s draft, though there have been talented players selected at this position in the draft or later in the past.
Milwaukee has a history of finding talent later in the draft, such as Giannis Antetokounmpo with the No. 15 pick in 2013. The team is rumored to want to get the contracts of Ersan Ilyasova and Tony Snell off the books, and key role player Malcolm Brogdon is a free agent. SG Khris Middleton is expected to sign a new deal close to max contract value. When considering betting on Milwaukee's 2020 title futures odds, it’s worth noting that the team is one of the most consistent in the league. When betting futures , stability is an especially important factor. With a proven winning roster and the fewest questions regarding depth of any of the top contenders, putting money on the Bucks to win the 2019-20 NBA Championship could present a lot of value with Kawhi Leonard’s status with the Raptors still up in the air.
To go ahead and get it out of the way, we know that the New Orleans Pelicans are extremely unlikely to take the NBA title in 2020. However, the team went 33-49 during the 2018-19 season and finished No. 13 in the Western Conference, not far off from the Lakers. Factor in the predicted drafting of Duke’s Zion Williamson with the No. 1 overall pick come Thursday, their three new trade acquisitions, and a proven veteran in Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans will be an interesting team to watch this season. When it comes to betting, the most value can be found with their 2020 NBA win total, which is set at 33.5. Betting the OVER on the Pelicans early could be a smart bet. New Orleans went OVER their season win total the last time they held the No. 1 pick back in 2012 with Anthony Davis. Since 2005, teams with the first overall pick in the NBA Draft have gone over their preseason win total 8 times in 14 years.
*Odds provided courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook