A blockbuster offseason that saw multiple superstars on the move has left the NBA without a consensus title favorite and put some oddsmakers in a conundrum of trying to figure out how the season will unfold.
Caesars Sportsbook posted season-win totals for each team Thursday afternoon. Seven teams opened with win totals greater than 50, led by the Milwaukee Bucks at 57. The Bucks won an NBA-best 60 games last season and are the clear-cut favorites in the Eastern Conference. The Philadelphia 76ers are next in the East at 54.5.
In the loaded Western Conference, the LA Clippers, who added Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in July, opened at 55.5. They are followed by the Utah Jazz at 52.5, and the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets, who are each at 52.
The Los Angeles Lakers, who won 37 games last season, opened at 51.5. The Lakers have not won more than 50 games since the 2010-11 season.
At Caesars Sportsbook, nearly six times as much money has been bet on the Lakers to win the 2019-20 NBA title than has been wagered on any other team. The Lakers, at +300, are the championship favorites at Caesars, yet six teams opened with higher season-win totals, including the Clippers, who are the favorites at multiple other sportsbooks.
“I think the Clippers should be the favorite,” Caesars oddsmaker Alan Berg told ESPN, “but sometimes you have a better number on teams on the basis of liability, which is the case with the Lakers.
“Two of the tougher numbers to make were the Clippers and Lakers,” Berg added. “How are they going to attack the regular season? Will Kawhi play anywhere near 82 games? Will LeBron or [Anthony] Davis? Load management is likely to play into the regular season for these two squads.”
The Golden State Warriors, who lost Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets and will be without injured Klay Thompson for the bulk of the regular season, also posed a challenge for Berg.
“The West is drastically improved with the Clippers, Lakers, Blazers and Nuggets all looking like better teams in 2019,” Berg said. “The addition of D’Angelo Russell makes [the Warriors] a tough out night-in, night-out, but will [Stephen] Curry be able to carry this club all year with his injury history? He’s played so many games the past five years.”
The Charlotte Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers have the lowest season-win totals, each at 24.