2019/20 NBA Season Preview

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The NBA season tips off on Wednesday with a massive primetime doubleheader between the Pelicans and Raptors followed by the Lakers and Clippers.

For the first time in forever, there’s more than just two horses in the race as trades and a wild free agency period have restored some much-needed parity in the league.

Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers have stolen the spotlight in Hollywood to become the outright Championship favourites this season. Elsewhere, Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the MVP market to retain his crown.

With 1,230 regular-season games ahead of us, now is the perfect time to place those futures bets with juicy odds on offer. But in case you need a little refresher, we’ve analysed every team and every market to get you up to speed in our 2019/20 NBA Season Preview below!

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics

  • Division Winner – $5.00
  • Eastern Conference Champions – $7.50
  • NBA Champions – $26.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $1.09
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $6.75

Starting Five: Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Enes Kanter

This looks to be another transition year for the Celtics with Kyrie Irving finally in the rear-view mirror.

Boston wasted no time replacing the star point guard by adding three-time All-Star Kemba Walker through free agency, but even with last year’s 10th highest scorer on the roster, there’s still a distinct underdog feel about Brad Stevens’ side.

Danny Ainge also lost Al Horford through free agency, leaving a massive void defensively in the paint. The Celtics are banking on another bounce-back year from Gordon Hayward, while they’ll also be without fellow big man Aron Baynes, who was traded to the Suns on draft day.

All in all, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see the Celtics miss the playoffs. Then again, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see them scrape into the eighth seed, either. There’s a distinct underdog feel in Boston, much like the 2017 team. But given the strength of the Atlantic Division, it’s hard to build a case for them winning more games than the 76ers or perhaps even, the Nets.

Best Bet: Jayson Tatum Most Improved Player of the Year @ $10.00

Brooklyn Nets

  • Division Winner – $5.00
  • Eastern Conference Champions – $13.00
  • NBA Champions – $34.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $1.20
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $4.25

Starting Five: Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert, Taurean Prince, DeAndre Jordan

We’ll have to wait an extra 12 months to watch Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving co-exist, but this should be a fascinating team to watch as the Nets hope to make the playoffs for the second straight year.

Brooklyn won 42-games last season to finish eighth in the East before losing to the Sixers in the first round. The Nets will need to replace D’Angelo Russell’s explosive three-point shooting, but after hitting 40% of his shots from beyond the arc for the third consecutive season, Irving should fill the void.

The 2020/21 season is the time to really invest in the Nets, but there’s nothing stopping Brooklyn from making a deep playoff run again this year. Aside from Irving and Durant, the Nets also brought in DeAndre Jordan and Taurean Prince, a pair of dominant big men that should help Brooklyn rank Top 10 in rebounds once again.

Winning the offseason was the first step for the Nets, and the next will be to prove themselves a serious contender, even with Durant on the sidelines. This is a team with serious championship potential, so making the playoffs is still an absolute must.

Best Bet: Nets Over 44.5 Total Wins @ $1.80

New York Knicks

  • Division Winner – $251
  • Eastern Conference Champions – $501
  • NBA Champions – $501
  • To Make the Playoffs – $9.00
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $1.05

Staring Five: Dennis Smith Jr, RJ Barrett, Marcus Morris, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson

Things can’t get any worse in New York, can they?

The Knicks were left empty-handed during the free agency period as they failed to land Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and a host of the NBA’s other top names. Not to worry though, third overall draft pick RJ Barrett is the saviour the Big Apple needs – just don’t go expecting any sudden miracles.

Knicks fans will be happy if Barrett develops into a nightly playmaker who averages something close to 22 points-per-game. No one is expecting him to razzle-dazzle like his former Duke teammate, but keep in mind, Barrett was the consensus top pick in this year’s draft before Zion became Zion.

Make no mistake, this is a massive rebuild year for the Knicks, but what it isn’t, and what it can’t be, is another lost year. They won’t win many games, but with any luck, they won’t be a complete circus, either.

Best Bet: Knicks Over 26.5 Total Wins @ $1.80

Philadelphia 76ers

  • Division Winner – $1.60
  • Eastern Conference Champions – $3.00
  • NBA Champions – $8.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $1.01
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $15.00

Starting Five: Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Al Horford, Joel Embiid

If the Sixers aren’t the best defensive team in the NBA this season, you’ll know something went wrong.

Joining Joel Embiid in the paint is Al Horford, Philly’s answer to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Head coach Brett Brown now has some depth to play with rotation-wise, but none of that will mean much if the Sixers struggle to shoot the ball.

We’re being promised three-pointers from Ben Simmons, but don’t hold your breath. And despite Embiid’s MVP credentials, the big man is still hopeless from beyond the arc.

It might sound strange to consider Horford the most important member on the Sixers’ roster, but that’s exactly what he is. Considering Embiid’s long injury history, production from the backup centre is crucial for Philly.

What we do know about the Sixers though is they have heart. Every single player (other than Horford) is in their prime, and keep in mind, this is a team that took Toronto to the brink in last year’s Conference Semi’s.

If it wasn’t for a Kawhi Leonard buzzer-beater, it may have been the Sixers, not the Raptors, to beat Golden State. Talk about a learning experience and a serious motivator for a young team to build off of.

Best Bet: Back the Sixers to Win the NBA Championship @ $8.00

Toronto Raptors

  • Division Winner – $8.00
  • Eastern Conference Champions – $16.00
  • NBA Champions – $51.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $1.28
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $3.40

Starting Five: Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol

How the mighty have fallen. Wait, were the Raptors ever mighty?

Losing Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers leaves Toronto without their true championship piece, but this is still a very talented starting five that should have no trouble making the playoffs in a very weak conference.

Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and the ageless wonder Marc Gasol make up the Raptors’ starting five. It’s been a busy offseason for a number of reasons, and while a title defence appears out of the question, the playoffs certainly aren’t.

Nobody can replace what Leonard brought to the table, but with Siakam, Anunoby and Fred VanFleet all under 25-years-old, Toronto still has a very bright future ahead.

Best Bet: Raptors Under 46.5 Total Wins @ $1.80

Central Division

Chicago Bulls

  • Division Winner – $101
  • Eastern Conference Champions – $81.00
  • NBA Champions – $301
  • To Make the Playoffs – $4.25
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $1.22

Starting Five: Tomas Satoransky, Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter Jr, Otto Porter Jr, Lauri Markkanen

Full credit to Chicago’s front office – they’ve made some very important moves this offseason, even if they haven’t been the most exciting.

Three months after trading for Otto Porter, the Bulls wasted no time adding even more experience to the roster in the form of Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky. Young brings 13-years’ worth of experience to a side desperately lacking veterans, but if Jim Boylen fails to get the most out of his starting five, that could prove a moot point.

At his best, Zach LaVine is easily one of the most exciting pure scorers in the league. Unfortunately, the Bulls’ star point guard went missing during various stretches last season, while injuries to Lauri Markkanen still leaves us waiting on the one-two combo we were promised.

Many argue the Bulls are still a draft away from serious contention, but this is the most complete roster we’ve seen from Chicago in recent years. This team lost eight games by three points or less last season, and while it mightn’t seem like much, LaVine’s promising preseason (23.3 PPG, 57% from three) makes the Bulls a very enticing bet to sneak into the playoffs.

Best Bet: Bulls to Make the Playoffs @ $4.25

Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Division Winner – $251
  • Eastern Conference Champions – $501
  • NBA Champions – $1001
  • To Make the Playoffs – $21.00
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $1.01

Starting Five: Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love, Cedi Osman

What you see is what you get with the Cavs this season.

A pair of first-round picks in the draft landed Cleveland Darius Garland and Dylan Windler, but it’s difficult to see the Cavs winning anything more than say, 25 games this season.

Garland could very easily turn into an elite point guard in the NBA, but after playing only five games in one season with Vanderbilt, there’s every chance the 19-year-old turns into an all-time bust.

The goal this season in Cleveland is 1. Get some games into the young guys, and 2. Help those young players build a rapport with first-year head coach John Beilein.

Best Bet: Cavs Over 23.5 Total Wins @ $1.80

Detroit Pistons

  • Division Winner – $23.00
  • Eastern Conference Champions – $81.00
  • NBA Champions – $201
  • To Make the Playoffs – $2.05
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $1.73

Starting Five: Reggie Jackson, Bruce Brown, Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, Tony Snell

The Pistons did just enough to make the playoffs last year finishing with a 41-41 record. But for what?

Detroit enters the season much like they did last year with a semi-exciting starting five and a whole bunch of question marks everywhere else.

It might sound strange to consider anyone other than Blake Griffin as the general on attack, but Reggie Jackson holds the key to the Pistons’ hopes this year as he slots in as the starting point guard. The leash looks to be short on the $18 million man though as the 10-year veteran continues to show signs of a decline.

Derrick Rose, now with his fifth team, was brought in to provide some depth on the bench. Rose was enormous last year as Minnesota’s sixth man, and it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see the 11-year veteran earn a spot in the five.

Overall, the Pistons are one of the few teams that could go either way this season. After averaging the fifth-fewest points-per-game last year, don’t be surprised if they miss the playoffs.

Best Bet: Pistons to Miss the Playoffs @ $1.73

Indiana Pacers

  • Division Winner – $4.00
  • Eastern Conference Champions – $15.00
  • NBA Champions – $51.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $1.15
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $5.25

Starting Five: Malcolm Brogdon, Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, T.J. Warren, Domantas Sabonis

Sleep on this team at your own risk.

A sickening injury to Victor Oladipo cost Indiana early on last season, but it also spared the rest of the Eastern Conference from facing a very dangerous team in the playoffs.

The Pacers carry over much of the same roster into the new season as we still wait for an official timetable on Oladipo’s return. Indiana needs him back sooner rather than later, but there’s nothing stopping newcomers Malcolm Brogdon and TJ Warren from carrying the load.

General Manager Chad Buchanan has done a great job compiling a very blue-collar roster for minimal pennies. Aside from Brogdon and Warren, Domantas Sabonis is another guy with terrific instincts who turned a big corner last season.

Throw in Jeremy Lamb, who averaged a career-high 15.3 points-per-game last year, and you have a serious dark horse in the East. If health is on their side, there’s no reason the Pacers miss the playoffs.

Best Bet: Pacers Over 46.5 Wins @ $1.87

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Central Division Winner – $1.18
  • Eastern Conference Champions – $2.50
  • NBA Champions – $7.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $1.01
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $15.00

Starting Five: Eric Bledsoe, Wesley Matthews, Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo

The rightful Eastern Conference favourites will be hoping to make up for lost time after losing to the Raptors in last year’s Conference Finals.

Bucks General Manager Jon Horst wasted no time adding reinforcements to his already stacked roster by bringing in Kyle Korver and Robin Lopez. Milwaukee ranked third in field-goal percentage last year, and with two extra pure-shooters, the Bucks should again be a force from mid-range.

We’ll also be treated to another year of Giannis Antetokounmpo. The reigning MVP made serious strides in his sixth season, and if exhibition games are any indication, we could see further improvement from the Greek Freak from beyond the arc.

Opposing teams, namely the Sixers, will try their best to combat Giannis this season. He won’t be able to pound the paint quite like he did last year, but with a much-improved roster full of depth, this is the team to beat in the East.

Best Bet: Bucks Over 57.5 Total Wins @ $1.95

Southeast Division

Atlanta Hawks

  • Division Winner – $6.50
  • Eastern Conference Champions – $51.00
  • NBA Champions – $201
  • To Make the Playoffs – $3.25
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $1.30

Starting Five: Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, John Collins, Alex Len

A 29-53 season was capped off with a very busy draft period for the Hawks last year. Atlanta’s young lineup showed plenty of fight in the second half with wins over the Jazz, Sixers and Bucks, and things only look up after adding first-rounder Cam Reddish to the fold.

Reddish joins what is easily the most talented core of young players in the league as he now hopes to follow in the footsteps of Trae Young. After so much criticism, Atlanta’s 2018 first-round pick averaged just over 19.0 points-per-game in his rookie year alongside standout forward John Collins, who makes up a versatile one-two punch.

Make no mistake, the Hawks are in the playoff conversation this year as they will almost certainly cause plenty of upsets. Second-year coach Lloyd Pierce did a fantastic job building chemistry with his young roster last year, so you can expect the Hawks to be somewhere on the fringe of the eighth seed come the final month of the season.

Best Bet: Trae Young to Make the All-Star Game @ $3.00

Charlotte Hornets

  • Division Winner: $151
  • Eastern Conference Champions: $501
  • NBA Champions: $1001
  • To Make the Playoffs – $19.00
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $1.01

Starting Five: Terry Rozier, Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges, Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller

The future looks bleak for the Hornets following the departure of fan favourite Kemba Walker. In his place steps Terry Rozier, but it’s difficult to get excited about a team that looks destined for a long and arduous rebuild.

Charlotte is the top tanking contender this season as they eye the No. 1 overall pick. Stocking up on young prospects is the only way to get a disgruntled fan base back onside, but there are still a handful of names worth watching this season.

At the top of the list is Malik Monk, who returns for his third year in Charlotte after posting career-highs last season. The man nicknamed “God of Dunk” averaged 8.9 points-per-game last year, and if he can stay healthy, Monk and Rozier could turn into quite the combo.

Fourteenth overall draft pick PJ Washington likely won’t see a ton of playing time early, but he’s still a name to watch after shooting over 40% from three at Kentucky. Deciphering which players are worth keeping around for the future will be a big part of head coach James Borrego’s job this season, so with the losses coming thick and fast, try and focus on individual performances if you’re a Hornets fan.

Best Bet: Under 31.5 Total Wins @ $1.77

Miami Heat

  • Division Winner – $1.87
  • Eastern Conference Champions – $26.00
  • NBA Champions – $81.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $1.50
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $2.50

Starting Five: Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Jimmy Butler, Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo

Just how he likes it, all eyes are on Jimmy Butler in Miami as the Heat look to make up for a lacklustre second half last season.

Miami was quietly one of the best teams defensively as they allowed the second-fewest points-per-game. There was also an 11-4 stretch during the month of March that almost saw the Heat into the playoffs.

There’s plenty of optimism about this current Heat side and for good reason. The health of Justise Winslow and Dion Waiters, both of whom combined to miss 54-games last season, is key if Miami wishes to get the most out of Butler. And although many deem the star forward to be a cancer in the locker room, keep in mind this has been Butler’s desired destination all along.

Best Bet: Heat to Win the Southeast Division @ $1.87

Orlando Magic

  • Division Winner – $2.25
  • Eastern Conference Champions – $41.00
  • NBA Champions – $151
  • To Make the Playoffs – $1.70
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $2.08

Starting Five: D.J. Augustin, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Issac, Nikola Vucevic

Preseason reports on Markelle Fultz look encouraging, although his ugly jump-shot is still a thing.

Fortunately, the Magic aren’t overly reliant on Fultz’s services with D.J. Augustin at point guard. The 31-year-old averaged just over 11 points-per-game last season on 47% shooting, making up part of Orlando’s surprisingly good offence.

Aaron Gordon also stood out last year as the big man shot a career-high 34% from three. Now in his sixth year with the team, Gordon has developed into a reliable rim protector who can also get down with some dunks on the other end.

No team features as many big men as the Magic do, which largely helped them earn the seventh seed in the East last year. Throw in Nikola Vucevic and Mo Bamba for good measure, and suddenly Orlando looks good money for a return to the playoffs.

Best Bet: Magic to Make the Playoffs @ $1.70

Washington Wizards

  • Division Winner – $81.00
  • Eastern Conference Champions – $301
  • NBA Champions – $501
  • To Make the Playoffs – $9.00
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $1.05

Starting Five: Ish Smith, Bradley Beal, Troy Brown, Davis Bertans, Thomas Bryant

It wouldn’t be the Wizards without a major talking point and a good off-court distraction now would it?

This year it’s Bradley Beal, who is still yet to sign Washington’s $111 million contract extension in the hopes of a trade to the Miami Heat. The entire season basically rides on Beal’s decision, but even if he re-signs, there’s nothing to say the Wizards suddenly turn things around and contend for a playoff spot.

Washington is in the midst of a serious transition, and it starts from the ground up. New General Manager Tommy Sheppard is looking to press the reset button as the team desperately seeks a culture change, but the thing is, there’s actually enough talent on the roster to prevent a massive rebuild.

With the roster as it is now, there’s nothing stopping the Wizards from at least being competitive. It all boils down to Beal, but if this roller-coaster is headed where we think it’s headed, Washington looks destined for another Top 10 pick.

Best Bet: Wizards Under 27.5 Total Wins @ $1.85

Northwest Division

Denver Nuggets

  • Division Winner – $2.25
  • Western Conference Champions – $11.00
  • NBA Champions – $21.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $1.97
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $7.50

Starting Five: Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap, Will Barton, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris

How do the Nuggets bounce-back from a Game 7 loss?

Hopefully, the Nuggets spent part of the offseason celebrating what was a very successful 2018/19 season. And hopefully, they also spent part of the offseason reflecting on what went wrong in the playoffs.

For a second seed team that finished just three games behind Golden State, Denver required all seven games against the Spurs in the first round before they ultimately met their match against the Blazers in the Semis. 

The Nuggets pride themselves on building from the bottom up, and so far, that’s worked a treat. Nikola Jokic helped Denver enormously on defence last year as they allowed the sixth-fewest points-per-game and the lowest three-point percentage against. Every MVP candidate needs some sidekicks though, and that’s exactly what the Nuggets spent most of their offseason acquiring.

As far as names go, guys like Jerami Grant and Michael Porter Jr aren’t the most exciting on paper, but they do add some depth to a Nuggets bench that averaged 37.7 points-per-game last year.

After trading a first-round pick to the Thunder, Grant could slot in at as a replacement for Paul Millsap or even spend time in the starting five. Defence is Grant’s specialty, and it also helps that he can consistently shoot the three.

The Nuggets are much-improved in terms of overall talent which means more versatile rotations for head coach Michael Malone. What the Nuggets lack in “star-power” they make up for in defensive prowess and a resilient underdog mentality. This should be a top-five team, if not a first seed in the West.

Best Bet: Nuggets Northwest Division Winner @ $2.25

Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Division Winner – $101
  • Western Conference Champions – $126
  • NBA Champions – $201
  • To Make the Playoffs – $5.00
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $1.16

Starting Five: Karl-Anthony Towns, Robert Covington, Andrew Wiggins, Jarrett Culver, Jeff Teague

If you want to watch a team waste some of the best years of a player’s life, take a good hard look at the Wolves Karl-Anthony Towns.

Now in his fifth season with the team, Towns could easily become the next disgruntled player that wants out of a team refusing to rebuild.

The Timberwolves say they are trying to make the playoffs, but they aren’t fooling anyone. So long as this team continues to pay Andrew Wiggins a sickening amount of money, Minnesota is doomed to fail with a complete lack of upcoming talent and motivation in the locker room.

Best Bet: Timberwolves Under 35.5 Total Wins @ $1.80

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Division Winner – $201
  • Eastern Conference Champions – $501
  • NBA Champions – $301
  • To Make the Playoffs – $5.50
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $1.13

Starting Five: Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Terrance Ferguson, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams

Chris Paul finds himself stranded in Oklahoma City as the Thunder turn over a new leaf in the absence of Paul George and Russell Westbrook.

A change was needed in the aftermath of last year’s first-round loss to Portland, and while fans are now bracing themselves for hibernation, the front office mightn’t be done moving pieces just yet.

The likelihood of Paul being traded mid-season is high as the Thunder look to collect draft picks for the future. Miami looks to be Paul’s preferred destination, making a potential trade the only noteworthy discussion ahead of the Thunder’s 2019/20 season.

Best Bet: Under 32.5 Total Wins @ $1.87  

Portland Trail Blazers

  • Division Winner – $5.00
  • Western Conference Champions – $21.00
  • NBA Champions – $34.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $1.20
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $4.30

Starting Five: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Rodney Hood, Zach Collins, Hassan Whiteside

How does a team that made the Conference Finals miss the playoffs the following year?

Trade for Hassan Whiteside, that’s how.

The former Heat centre is among the best in the league when he turns up motivated and ready to play, but more often than not, Whiteside provides nothing more than a locker room distraction after he decides to stop playing on the court.

Miami was desperate to unload Whiteside, and while going to a contender should suit, there’s every chance Portland mightn’t be to his liking.

Elsewhere, a slight lack of depth is also a concern for the Blazers. Jusuf Nurkic’s gruesome injury late last year could still cost him the entire season, leaving Portland relatively thin at center. The forward depth is also of concern, so until someone steps up, backing the Blazers to miss the playoffs looks very profitable.

Best Bet: Blazers to Miss the Playoffs @ $4.30

Utah Jazz

  • Division Winner – $2.25
  • Western Conference Champions – $9.00
  • NBA Champions – $12.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $1.10
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $6.50

Starting Five: Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanovic, Rudy Gobert

Utah learned last year that a fifty-win season doesn’t cut it in the West as the fifth-seed Jazz made it only as far as the first round.

It was a harsh lesson for a very young team, and one General Manager Justin Zanik took note of by trading for the services of Mike Conley.

Defence was Utah’s strong point last season as they allowed the fourth-fewest points-per-game, but much of that went missing in the playoffs as the Rockets won the series 4-1.

The real issue though was on offence, because even with playmakers like Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles, the Jazz somehow averaged only 111-points on offence last year.

Much of that should change with Conley manning things at point guard, which in turn should take some of the pressure off Mitchell. The Jazz need to ensure home-court advantage through the playoffs, and with a strong blend of youth, experience, shooting, defence and tall timber, Utah should have no trouble doing so.

Best Bet: Jazz Over 54.5 Total Wins @ $2.05

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors

  • Division Winner – $7.00
  • Western Conference Champions – $10.00
  • NBA Champions- $15.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $1.28
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $3.40

Starting Five: Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Willie Cauley-Stein, Quinn Cook, Kevon Looney

So, get this: for the first time in over five years, the Warriors will actually be forced to play in the regular season!

It’s a new look and a new era in Golden State as the Dubs resume without Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins and the injured Klay Thompson. D’Angelo Russell will fill in nicely on the scoreboard – especially from three-point land – but this is the most unsure we’ve felt about the Warriors since 2012.

On one hand, we could see Stephen Curry revert back to his old 30 point-per-game self with fewer mouths to feed. And on the other, we could see the Warriors struggle defensively without Durant and any reliable big men in the paint.

The Warriors have a real point to prove after limping through most of the playoffs to a disappointing Game 6 loss to the Raptors. This is the first time since 2016 the Warriors have opened as the underdogs to win the NBA Championship, but with Thompson’s timetable ranging anywhere between eight-twelve months, the Dubs will need to make up ground early in the West if they wish to finish with a top-four seed.

Best Bet: Steph Curry Regular Season Scoring Champ @ $3.50

Los Angeles Clippers

  • Division Winner – $1.57
  • Western Conference Champions – $3.00
  • NBA Champions – $4.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $1.01
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $15.00

Starting Five: Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, JaMychal Green, Ivica Zubac

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the same team means the Clippers have dethroned the Warriors and beat the Lakers to the punch as the new Championship favourites.

The winners of the offseason will have to get creative before George returns in November, but judging by the preseason, Los Angeles already looks a well-oiled machine with Leonard running the show.

Last season the Clippers finished fifth in points-per-game, so the offence wasn’t a worry to begin with. Defensively things need to improve though as Los Angeles allowed the fifth-most points to opponents.

George is the cure to the Clippers’ woes on the other end after finishing third in Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2019. If he and Kawhi stay healthy, the Clippers should be a shoo-in for their first Finals appearance, even if it doesn’t come from the first seed in the West.

Best Bet: Clippers to Win the Western Conference @ $3.00

Los Angeles Lakers

  • Division Winner – $3.00
  • Western Conference Champions – $4.00
  • NBA Champions – $5.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $1.11
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $6.00

Starting Five: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, JaVale McGree, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Kuzma

Front office dysfunction and LeBron James’ groin spoiled the party last year in Los Angeles as the Lakers found themselves 13-games back at the All-Star break.

Problems continued to mount on the way to an overall 37-45 record, spurring a long offseason of signings and trades.

The Lakers finally landed Anthony Davis in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks. Some think it’s a hefty price to pay, but with LeBron’s championship window closing, it’s a sensible deal for one of the league’s top five players.

Chemistry is a big buzzword this time of year, and it certainly applies to the Lakers.

Firstly, new head coach Frank Vogel needs to build a rapport with his players, unlike the one Luke Walton established last year. The good news is Vogel brings some real defensive expertise after spending a year in Indiana and three seasons in Orlando as head coach. The Lakers allowed the ninth-most points-per-game on the defensive front last season, so they need all the help they can get.

The relationship between LeBron and Davis will also be plenty of fun. Now in his 16th season, does The King step back and pass the torch over to AD? Or does the 34-year-old still have another MVP run left in him?

All these questions will be answered at various points during the season, but for now, expect a few growing pains in Los Angeles as the Lakers find themselves in the “little brother” role for the first time in well, ever.

Best Bet: Lakers Over 51.5 Total Wins @ $2.05

Phoenix Suns

  • Division Winner – $501
  • Western Conference Champions – $501
  • NBA Champions – $751
  • To Make the Playoffs – $15.00
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $1.01

Starting Five: Devin Booker, Ricky Rubio, Deandre Ayton, Kelly Oubre Jr, Dario Saric

It’s been a busy offseason for the Suns that may not result in anything significant.

At the top, former Philadelphia 76ers assistant Monty Williams has been brought in as head coach. Talent-wise the Suns have also added some leadership in the form of Ricky Rubio, while draft-day acquisition Aron Baynes should provide some much-needed defence.

If you’re looking for competitive games this season, it might be best to avoid the Suns. That said, Devin Booker put up 21 games of 30-points or more last season – just try to keep in mind that the Suns only managed to win six of them.

Best Bet: Suns Over 27.5 Total Wins @ $1.71

Sacramento Kings

  • Pacific Division Winner – $34.00
  • Western Conference Champions – $101
  • NBA Champions – $151
  • To Make the Playoffs – $3.60
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $1.27

Starting Five: De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley III, Nemanja Bjelica

How quickly people forget the Kardiac Kings.

Sacramento provided some of the best moments of the entire season last year as De’Aaron Fox and company took an enormous leap forward. If it wasn’t for Pascal Siakam, Fox likely would have claimed the Most Improved Player Award, while Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley also enjoyed a statement season.

The Kings young core is by far the most exciting in the league and they should be hungry for a taste of the playoffs. Defensively Sacramento allowed the fifth-most points last year though, so while there’s plenty of pace on attack, things do need some work on the other end.

Even so, this is an electrifying offence that belongs in the postseason, and at their current price, the Kings look way over the odds.

Best Bet: Kings to Make the Playoffs @ $3.60

Southwest Division

Dallas Mavericks

  • Division Winner – $10.00
  • Western Conference Champions – $41.00
  • NBA Champion – $67.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $3.40
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $1.30

Starting Five: Luka Doncic, Delon Wright, Tim Hardaway Jr, Kristaps Porzingis, Dwight Powell

Is this the start of the NBA’s most dominant duo? With both players locked in for the next five years, the Mavericks had better hope so.

We’ve received a taste of the Luka Doncic-Kristaps Porzingis show already during the preseason as the pair combined for 39-points last week in a loss to the Pistons. Both players complimented each other nicely, and it was encouraging to see the pair drain a couple of shots from beyond the arc.

The Mavericks finished with the fourth-lowest three-point percentage last year, which doesn’t really cut it in the new-age NBA. Defensively the Mavericks were sneaky good though allowing the 13th fewest points-per-game and the seventh-lowest three-point shooting percentage against. With Seth Curry and Boban Marjanovic now on the roster, the defence should only continue to improve.

Realistically Dallas isn’t a playoff contender this season, but they certainly could turn into one of the most improved teams of the year. All eyes will now be on Porzingis as fans hope for an injury-free, instant bounce-back season, as well as some chemistry between himself and the 2019 Rookie of the Year.

Best Bet: Luka Doncic to Make the All-Star Game ($1.80), Over 40.5 Wins @ $1.91

Houston Rockets

  • Division Winner – $1.33
  • Western Conference Champions – $6.00
  • NBA Champions – $9.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $1.09
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $6.75

Starting Five: Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, Clint Capela

If you haven’t clued on already, there are plenty of new faces in new places this season, and no relationship is more interesting than the Russell Westbrook-James Harden harmony.

First off, the two are friends, so there won’t be any bad blood or backstabbing going on (we think). But both are also painfully competitive, especially when it comes to scoring points and making the highlight reel.

No player craves MVP status more than Harden, and no player needs a bounce-back season more than Westbrook. Also, no team needs instant chemistry more than the Rockets, and no coach needs to make up for two seasons of playoff failure more than Mike D’Antoni.

In sum, there’s a lot riding on this season in Houston. At some point, someone is going to have to put their personal agenda aside if this team wishes to reach the finals for the first time since 1995, and with the rest of the West only getting stronger, there’s really no time to wait.

Best Bet: Under 53.5 Total Wins @ $1.87

Memphis Grizzlies

  • Southwest Division Winner – $201
  • Western Conference Champions – $501
  • NBA Champions – $501
  • To Make the Playoffs – $15.00
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $1.01

Starting Five: Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jonas Valanciunas

If you’re into following rookies closely, make your League Pass team the Grizzlies this year.

Second overall pick Ja Morant will be the talking point in Memphis as the Grizzlies’ new point guard looks to fill the void left by Mike Conley. It’s always tough replacing a crowd favourite, but if Morant hits the ground running, he’ll make Grizz fans forget all about Conley’s services.

Memphis is among the favourites to earn another top-five pick this season, but that doesn’t mean the Grizzlies won’t be competitive. If the chemistry between Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr lives up to the hype, this loyal fanbase should have a very bright future ahead.

Best Bet: Over 26.5 Total Wins @ $1.87

New Orleans Pelicans

  • Southwest Division Winner – $15.00
  • Western Conference Champions – $67.00
  • NBA Champions – $81.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $4.00
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $1.23

Starting Five: Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, Derrick Favors

There’s no way the Pelicans can make the playoffs, right?

General Manager Trajan Langdon has done a great job setting his team up for success in the future, but there’s every chance New Orleans peaks earlier than everyone is predicting.

No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson is the headliner this season. The big man’s work around the rim is second to none, and although the 19-year-old is a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year, who’s to say Zion can’t throw a spanner in the works of the MVP race?

Much of this could turn out to be hyperbole, but with a very talented (and underrated) roster, the Pelicans are a must-watch this season. Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball should compliment Zion beautifully, while there’s also Jrue Holiday, Derrick Favors and JJ Reddick to contend with.

There are several worthy League Pass teams this season, and you might be looking at the number one overall contender.

Best Bet: Pelicans Over 39.5 Total Wins @ $2.00

San Antonio Spurs

  • Southwest Division Winner – $4.50
  • Western Conference Champions – $34.00
  • NBA Champions – $81.00
  • To Make the Playoffs – $1.50
  • To Miss the Playoffs – $2.50

Starting Five: Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jakob Poeltl

With Gregg Popovich away on international duties for most of the summer, the Spurs stayed quiet in free agency instead choosing to carry over a similar roster to the one they had last season.

In his first year in San Antonio, DeMar DeRozan averaged his lowest points total since 2015 – but that isn’t to say the Spurs new shooting guard played poorly. DeRozan gelled nicely with the rest of the team despite a very emotional trade from Toronto. That kind of leadership eventually paved the way for a winning season before losing the Spurs lost a difficult Game 7 against the Nuggets in the first round.

The defence is a huge focus for San Antonio after allowing 110 points-per-game last year. The good news is former first-round pick Dejounte Murray and up-and-comer Derrick White should make up one of the most talented backcourt duos in the league.

There’s a nice blend of youth and veteran leadership in this Spurs team, that should steer them towards a 23rd straight playoff appearance.

Best Bet: Spurs Over 46.5 Total Wins @ $2.10

2019/20 Player Awards

Nikola Jokic 2019/20 Regular Season MVP @ $12.00

Alvin Gentry (New Orleans Pelicans) Coach of the Year @ $21.00

Paul George Defensive Player of the Year @ $6.00

Jayson Tatum Most Improved Player of the Year @ $10.00

Zion Williamson Rookie of the Year @ $1.60

Fred VanFleet Sixth Man of the Year @ $21.00

Tips, recommendations and commentary are for entertainment only. We provide no warranty about accuracy or completeness. You should make your own assessment before placing a bet.