Will it be the San Antonio Spurs standing once again as champions of the NBA at the season’s end or will the retooled and reinvigorated Cleveland Cavaliers make their mark behind the immovable force that is LeBron James?
With the new campaign getting under way on Tuesday – with nightly live games on offer on Unibet TV – let’s have a look at the biggest prize up for offer: the title itself.
It’s no shock that the Cavs have been installed as 4.00 favourites to take their first-ever NBA crown with the arrival of James and Kevin Love during a summer of upheaval. Unable to make it a hat-trick of titles with Miami last June, the future Hall of Famer has compiled a stellar roster around him as Cleveland eye the prize.
But even when he decamped to the Heat four years ago, it still took two years to land the prize. And Kyrie Irving has yet to prove he can be the facilitator required to make this all come together quickly.
It’s safe to say the Spurs, rated 5.00, won’t be easily knocked off in their quest to land a repeat championship for the first time. We have all been proven wrong in writing them off as too old but there is a question over their hunger to make one further stand.
Realistically, with their current rosters, there are really three genuine contenders beyond the big two. Oklahoma City could start slowly with Kevin Durant in street clothes but the Thunder, priced at 7.00, could benefit from him getting extra rest down the home stretch.
In adding Pau Gasol, the Chicago Bulls look ready for a stronger run but the huge variable there is Derrick Rose and his ability to return to All-League level. Verdict: very uncertain.
The best value, perhaps, may lie with the Los Angeles Clippers who are 12.00 to come good. They are a season wiser under coach Doc Rivers and shorn of their perennial off-court distraction. If they stay healthy, their squad is as good as any in the NBA and well capable of coming up trumps, especially at a very tempting 6.00 to take the Western Conference honours.
As for the rest? Forget it. Too weak, too inconsistent or just too bad.
Atlantic Division: Brooklyn Nets 3.20
Central Division: Cleveland Cavaliers 1.60
Southeast Division: Atlanta Hawks 5.00
Northwest Division: Portland Trail Blazers 3.50
Pacific Division: LA Clippers 1.55
Southwest Division: Houston Rockets 4.20
Eastern Conference: Cleveland Cavaliers 2.00
Western Conference: LA Clippers 6.00
Champions: Cleveland Cavaliers 4.00