The Whiteboard: Who is definitely not winning the NBA title next year?

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Right now, we have no idea if the 2019-20 NBA season is actually over, or if the league will figure out some way to wedge an abbreviated version of the playoffs, between the downslide of the novel coronavirus surge and the wheels beginning to turn on the 2020-21 season. In the face of all that uncertainty, my fellow degenerates, we can still put down money at Bovada on the Rockets +1500 to win it all.

Staring at those uncertain odds, for a season that’s uncertain to be completed, while making my way through a boxed-wine supply that’s uncertain to hold out until the next time I feel comfortable leaving my house, left me gasping for certainty, somewhere, anywhere.

Luckily, I found it. At the bottom of that table of Bovada championship odds for the 2019-20 season were the Knicks at +500000. Feeling fairly confident that probability will hold out for another 12 months, I was inspired to compile a list of the teams who definitely won’t be winning the title this year, or next year.


R.J. Barrett might be the kind of piece you can build around. Or, he might be Harrison Barnes. Right now the Knicks have Elfrid Payton, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., Wayne Ellington, Reggie Bullock, Kevin Knox, Ignas Brazdeikis, Julius Randle, Taj Gibson and Mitchell Robinson under contract for next season, along with a club option for Bobby Portis and potentially $10-20 million in cap space that they might as well set on fire right now. They won just enough games for the sixth-best odds at the No. 1 pick but, knowing the power of irony, they’ll probably win this year and take James Wiseman 20 picks too early. There is not a safer sports bet in the universe right now than the Knicks extending their 46-year title drought.


Chicago came into this season with a roster sporting all sorts of offensive upside. Lauri Markkanen has incredible touch as a 7-footer and the potential to become an elite high-volume scorer. Zach LaVine is explosive off the dribble and his efficiency surged with refined shot selection. Otto Porter is one of the best spot-up shooters in the league. Thad Young looked perfect is a versatile 4, the connective tissue holding things together. Oh, and let’s add Coby White and Tomas Satoransky. And, yet, somehow, the Bulls were 27th in offensive efficiency when the season was suspended. Kudos to Jim Boylen for sapping all their energy on defensive drills to raise their ceiling to league-average at the other end. Nothing a few more burpees can’t fix.


I like the Hornets. Devonte’ Graham was one of the most fun, weird data points of this entire season and Terry Rozier being not horrible was a delightful surprise. But the cap space that’s coming isn’t going to deliver what they need — a franchise-centering star — and they certainly aren’t getting that player in the middle of the lottery in this draft. I’d be delighted with an extended battle for the No. 8 seed in the East next year but even that might be me being hopelessly optimistic.


The novel coronavirus is no joke and we’re all hoping there are no long-term health implications for Kevin Durant and the other three Nets’ players who tested positive. But, come on. Who watched this team this season and thought they were a piece away? Even a piece like Durant? They’re a 300-piece Ravensburger away, a nice jigsaw of a Dutch windmill and some tulips. You heard it here first.


At Nylon Calculus, I’ve been looking back at what we saw from a few notable rookies and how that compared to pre-draft expectations. Last week, we looked at De’Andre Hunter. You can now check out R.J. Barrett and Darius Garland as well.

Who would you pick for the ultimate NBA HORSE Tournament?

We may not have NBA games to talk about but may we interest in you in deeply researched and thoroughly nuanced NBA fan fiction? Join Professor James Harden on a journey through the NBA’s lost season.

It couldn’t feel further away right now, but, at some point, free agency and the NBA offseason will happen. SBNation’s Michael Pina is getting you ready, matching top-tier players with their perfect teams.

NBA Desktop. You’re welcome.

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