NBA 2021-22 Season: Favourites to win the NBA Championship

Brooklyn Nets and LA Lakers headline the NBA 2021-2022 season as the best bets to win the NBA Championship. Defending champions Milwaukee Bucks are down to third overall in the betting. 

The NBA season is still at least six weeks away from starting, but oddsmakers have already identified their favourites to win the NBA Championship. In top spot are the Brooklyn Nets, but they’re closely followed by the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nets are priced at +220 while the Lakers are priced at +380 on the NBA odds board. The Milwaukee Bucks, meanwhile, at a good distance, priced at +900 with multiple top-rated sportsbooks. 

Elsewhere, the Atlanta Hawks, who made the Eastern Conference finals have the 12th best odds at +3500 to win the coveted title. The Phoenix Suns, who finished runner-up to the Milwaukee Bucks, have the fifth-best odds and the Los Angeles Clippers, who reached the Western Conference finals, have the eighth best odds at +2200. Finally, the Golden State Warriors, who missed the 2021 players, are the fourth-best bet at+1000.

Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden spearhead a formidable Brooklyn Nets frontline that can score from any point on the court and pile on the buckets. Although the trio only actually played eight games together last season because separate injuries kept them apart. They still managed to finish as the No.2 seed in the Eastern Conference, behind the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Imagine if Durant, Irving and Harden had played more games together or if they’d stayed healthy going into the postseason. 

The Milwaukee Bucks, who finished third overall in the regular season standings behind the Sixers and Nets, barely squeaked by the Nets in the second round of the playoffs. The Bucks edged the series 4-3 with an overtime 115-11 win against the, by then, watered down Nets. Had the Nets been at full strength, the balance might have tipped in favour of Brooklyn. Harden had sprained his ankle in game 4, Harden was hobbled and Durant simply couldn’t do it alone. This isn’t to take anything away from the Milwaukee Bucks or Giannis Antetokounmpo. They thoroughly deserved to win as the best team in the 2021 NBA playoffs.

Joining a championship-calibre team was the catalyst for Harden’s move from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets lst season. And Sizing up the Nets as they stack up, it’s easy to understand why they are the prohibitive favourites. By all accounts, the trio of stars is set to return for the 2021-22 NBA season, including Durant after signing a four-year, $198 million dollar extension upon his return from the Tokyo Olympics where he won his third gold medal with the US Men’s basketball team.  Another year of experience playing together and assuming they stay fit and injury-free, the Nets will be tough to beat next season.

The Lakers faced a similar fate as their season was derailed entirely by injuries. LeBron James had called it even before the season got underway, calling out the league for starting the 2020-21 NBA season after one of the shortest off-seasons in the game’s history. Between the end of the 2019- 2020 NBA season, pushed back into October because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the start of the 2020-21 NBA season in December was 71-days – the shortest in North American sports history.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis spent significant time side-lined with injury. In the postseason, the starlets returned but AD was quickly side-lined again with injury. It proved too much to overcome as the Lakers bowed out in the first round to the Phoenix Suns. 

Elsewhere, the injury bug was prevalent too. Los Angeles Clippers’ postseason came to a sputtering halt on the heels of Kawhi Leonard’s injury; the Boston Celtics struggled without Jaylen Brown in their first round loss to the Nets and the Denver Nuggets were up against it without Jamal Murray.

The Milwaukee Bucks will be keen to prove that their championship title, the first in 50 years for the Milwaukee Bucks, wasn’t the direct result of the injury bug biting their opponents. After all, the Bucks weren’t immune to the injury bug. Giannis Antetokounmpo injured his knee in game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. The injury looked serious and there was legitimate concern his season might be over.

Fortunately, the ‘Greek Freak’ had suffered a hyperextension of his left knee but avoided any structural damage.  How much discomfort or pain he endured, only he knows. But a knee injury, whether minor or major, is difficult to comeback from. Giannis not only came back to play, but he almost singlehandedly led the Bucks to victory with inspired performances over the Suns in the last couple of games of the NBA Finals.