Another NBA season is upon us, and that means it's time to take stock of the full-blown championship picture. Though the reigning title winners, the Los Angeles Lakers, remain favored to repeat, there's a lot to parse before making our 2021 NBA picks.
For starters, the league has expanded its playoff field. There will now be 10 teams apiece from the Eastern Conference and Western Conference that have a shot at making the postseason, with seeds seven, eight, nine, and 10 getting an opportunity to participate in a play-in tournament. That increases the scope of NBA Finals hopefuls as a result, and it is something we must account for.
Anyhow, before we get to our picks, here are the latest 2021 NBA championship odds, courtesy of Bovada:
|NBA Outright Winners Odds 2023|
|Golden State Warriors||+450||+450||+450|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+800||+800||+800|
Remember: We are writing this before the season officially tips off, which means these lines will move throughout the season. Make sure you're remaining up to date on them before deciding how you will bet. But now, let's get into our breakdown of the 2021 NBA Season.
2021 NBA Futures Breakdown
Every team you see from here on was selected based on a combination of the ability to win a title, and the value they're providing with their odds.
Best Eastern Conference Picks
Milwaukee Bucks (+600)
A lot of people are down on the Bucks after they flamed out in the second round of the playoffs last season against the Miami Heat. Their concerns are not unfounded. Though Giannis Antetokounmpo is a reigning two-time MVP, he needs to develop a jumper or post-game so that he's less predictable and guardable in the playoffs.
Still, they acquired Jrue Holiday, another top-30 player over the offseason. They're a little shallower as a result, but between himself, Giannis, Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez, they have the talent at the top to win it all.
Philadelphia 76ers (+1700)
Don't be scared about investing in the Sixers this season when they're providing a 17-to-1 payout.
Sure, they broke hearts last year. They surrounded Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid with non-shooters, and it was a disaster. But they've fixed all that. They traded Al Horford and Josh Richardson for sharpshooters Danny Green and Seth Curry. They're going to be really good.
Something else worth considering: These odds will be much less appealing if they trade for James Harden. It's best to get in on them now if you're intrigued by the Sixers...which you should be.
Toronto Raptors (+3000)
Losing Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka in free agency was a blow to the Raptors, but let's pump the brakes on any pessimism. They finished one win shy of an Eastern Conference Finals appearance last year, and they still have Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam.
Like always, this team is built to defend. The offense will be their swing skill. They need to put more pressure on the rim than last year. We're of the mind they can, or that they'll make a trade for someone who will.
Best Western Conference Picks
Los Angeles Lakers (+190)
Believe us when we say this isn't just a ceremonial mention. The Lakers are reigning champions, but they also drastically deepened their rotation by acquiring Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell, Wesley Matthews, and Dennis Schroder over the offseason.
Are the new additions the cleanest fit? Not at all. But the Lakers still have LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and more than that, a good deal of the Western Conference either didn't get any better or actually got worse.
Don't be surprised if the Lakers become heavier favorites as time goes on. It's best to pounce on their line now.
Golden State Warriors (+1800)
Klay Thompson will miss the entire season after rupturing his ACL. This has most counting the Warriors out. We're not quite there yet.
People forget that Stephen Curry is a top-five offense unto himself, and a healthy Draymond Green can carry a defense to respectability on his own. This team is built to surprise some people. On top of that, they have the assets to swing a big midseason trade if the right opportunity comes calling.
Phoenix Suns (+4000)
It is low-key incredible the Suns are currently paying out 40-to-1. They are among the few teams with two top-20 players on their roster, in Chris Paul and Devin Booker. They also have a budding pair of young studs in Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton, not to mention a deep supporting cast around them.
Indeed, the West is brutal. We also can't be sure how many games Paul misses. Still, if this team stays healthy, they have a chance to win the whole thing. That type of ceiling at 40-to-1 odds is tantalizing.
2021 NBA Title Pick
Our championship selection is boring because it has to be: We're choosing the Lakers.
Not nearly enough contenders from last season improved their roster for this year. Teams like the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz stood in place, while squads like the Heat and Boston Celtics arguably took a step back. The stage is set not only for the Lakers to repeat, but to potentially win LeBron his fifth championship in runaway fashion.
OSB NBA Title Pick: Los Angeles Lakers (+500)
Check out this list of the best online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all your NBA betting: