The odds to win this year’s NBA championship have not changed much even though the title will be decided in an unprecedented environment. Nobody is sure how exactly the NBA bubble will impact the 2019-20 NBA playoffs, but one thing remains clear.
According to most sports books, if your name is not the Lakers, the Bucks or the Clippers, you have little-to-no chance of winning this year’s NBA championship.
MORE: Everything to know about the NBA bubble
The Lakers were made the favorites to win the 2019-20 NBA championship when they landed Anthony Davis in June to pair him with LeBron James. Many sports books then set the Clippers as the title favorites after they landed both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in free agency. As Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks muscled their way to the best record in the NBA before the season was suspended March 11, Milwaukee joined the LA teams atop championship odds boards.
Now, as the NBA season continues in Orlando after a hiatus of almost five months amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the same three teams are the most popular picks to win the title despite such a unique scenario. In part because the Clippers are dealing with some roster concerns, the Lakers and Bucks are now the co-favorites to win the championship.
Below is the complete list of NBA championship odds for each of the 22 teams in the Orlando bubble, plus a breakdown of the top five title contenders.
NBA championship odds 2020
Courtesy of Sports Insider, below are the odds for all 22 teams in the NBA bubble to win the 2019-20 championship.
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers
Oklahoma City Thunder
Portland Trail Blazers
New Orleans Pelicans
San Antonio Spurs
The list of NBA bubble teams consists of the 16 teams that were in the playoffs based on NBA standings when the season was suspended in March, plus the six teams that were six games or fewer behind the eighth seed in their respective conferences.
Those six teams are the Pelicans, Trail Blazers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Wizards, so the 2019-20 seasons for the Hornets, Bulls, Knicks, Pistons, Hawks, Cavaliers, Timberwolves and Warriors ended prematurely.
After each team plays eight seeding games through Aug. 14, the playoffs — formatted normally despite all games being played in Orlando — will begin. Game 7 of the NBA Finals (if necessary) is scheduled for Oct. 12.
Below is the outlook for each of the top five teams based on the NBA championship odds board.
Lakers championship odds
Some have said this could be James’ best chance to win his fourth NBA championship even though it’s only his first season paired with Davis in Los Angeles. Part of the reason is the fact that, for the most part, the Lakers have continuity on their side as opposed to the challenges the Clippers face in the Western Conference.
The Lakers are without a strong defender in Avery Bradley after he decided not to participate in the NBA season restart, and Rajon Rondo is working back from a broken thumb. That will put a little more on the likes of Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso (and James, of course) to pick up the slack on the perimeter defensively, because the Lakers can’t expect much help in that area from recent roster additions J.R. Smith and Dion Waiters.
The bottom line is the Lakers were starting to click in March when the season was suspended, hence their No. 1 standing in the West, and the core of the roster remains intact.
The question is whether they can rediscover their stride, and whether the star power of James and Davis is stronger than that of Leonard and George and/or Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.
Bucks championship odds
The Bucks are a strange case, because few seem to fear the deer even though Milwaukee was dominating opponents before the season was suspended.
Led by a cheat code of a player in Antetokounmpo, the possible NBA MVP, the Bucks rolled to a +11.2 points differential in their 65 games through March 11, easily the best in the league ahead of the Lakers at +7.4 and the Clippers at +6.5. They also are a top-five team defensively, allowing an average of 107.4 points per game.
Perhaps most important in this strange NBA bubble situation, Milwaukee blows the LA contenders out of the water in terms of continuity. For now, no notable Bucks players are expected to miss games in the season’s restart. On top of that, Antetokounmpo and Middleton have played together for seven seasons.
If the Bucks can stay healthy, there’s no reason to believe they can’t be just as strong in Orlando as they were before the season was suspended. That’s specifically the case for the Greek Freak, who scored 67 points in 61 minutes of scrimmage time leading up to the restart.
Clippers championship odds
Many consider the Clippers the most talented team in the NBA because of their Leonard-George duo. Indeed, if that pair clicks in Orlando and the team finds the groove it had been seeking before the season was suspended, the Lakers and Bucks should worry.
The problem for the Clippers is they haven’t had the time this season to build the chemistry from which the Lakers and Bucks benefit. Both George and Leonard have missed games due to either injuries or load management, and a couple key players in Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson didn’t join the roster until February.
The Clippers also have had to deal with some road bumps entering Orlando, as five of their top 10 players, including Patrick Beverly and Montrezl Harrell, have missed time after late arrivals and emergency departures from the NBA bubble.
The good news for LA is Leonard and George have had no such issues. The Clippers will be counting on those guys to do the job for which they were signed last summer.
Celtics championship odds
Yes, there’s a significant increase in the NBA championship odds from Milwaukee to Boston in the Eastern Conference, but the Celtics have to feel pretty good about their chances in the NBA bubble.
No notable Boston players will miss the restart, and the core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, Daniel Theis, Marcus Smart, Enes Kanter and Brad Wanamaker have established solid chemistry this season. This also is one of the best defensive teams in the league, as its 106.8 points allowed per game are second behind Toronto’s 106.5.
The Celtics’ Tatum-Brown duo, though, isn’t as strong as the pairs leading the NBA’s top three teams. Boston also is hoping Walker’s knee issues don’t flare up in the bubble, a development that likely would spell the team’s doom.
Rockets championship odds
If for some reason small ball ends up being more advantageous in the NBA bubble environment than it was before the season was suspended, the Rockets will be in business.
Per usual, Houston will go as James Harden (and, to a lesser extent Russell Westbrook) go. They certainly could get hot, which is why general manager Daryl Morey is so publicly confident about his team’s chances to win the NBA championship.
The Rockets are without Thabo Sefolosha in the NBA bubble after he decided to opt out, but the bigger issue is Eric Gordon’s recent ankle injury. This team is a tough read, but even though they have some promising aspects, there’s a reason Houston entered the Orlando bubble as the No. 6 seed in the West.