Back-to-back Bucks? Not quite.
Giannis Antetokounmpo put together an otherworldy NBA Finals performance in the 2021 championship round vs. the Phoenix Suns, officially ascending to the throne of one of the world’s very best players and leaving zero doubt that the Bucks are a stalwart in the Eastern Conference.
That all said, the Bucks don’t open as favorites to repeat in 2022: Early odds sit with the Brooklyn Nets, who are a healthy favorite to emerge from the East and represent the conference in the 2022 NBA Finals.
The Nets have, arguably, the best Big 3 in the NBA in Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, and were a Durant big toe away from altering the timeline in the playoffs. That won’t change when all three players return in good health next year.
In the West, oddsmakers are banking on a return to health for LeBron James and Anthony Davis and a retooled roster to get to the big dance. Surprisingly, the Golden State Warriors have the second-best odds to win it all in the West, for a potential final hurrah for Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson (if and when he’s healthy) and Draymond Green.
Here’s how title odds for 2022 shape up early on:
NBA championship odds 2022
The Brooklyn Nets open as favorites to win the 2022 NBA Finals, which isn’t much of a surprise. The 2021 NBA Finals champ Bucks open at +900, behind the Nets and the Lakers.
Odds courtesy of DraftKings:
|Los Angeles Lakers||+525|
|Golden State Warriors||+1200|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+2000|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+5000|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+8000|
|New York Knicks||+10000|
|San Antonio Spurs||+25000|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+50000|
— The Phoenix Suns, Western Conference champions, have the fifth-best odds heading into the 2021-22 season: Three of those teams aren’t surprising (the Nets, Lakers and Bucks). But sitting in front of them is the Warriors. This is indicative of one of two things: Vegas is banking on a big, big return to health of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson; or they’re trying to sucker bettors into thinking just that.
— After the Nets and Bucks, the 76ers have the best odds to emerge from the Eastern Conference and win it all at +1600. There’s some questions to what the 76ers will look like in the ’21-’22 season with Ben Simmons reportedly being shopped, and the team’s rumored interest in Damian Lillard.
— If you’re feeling risky (bet responsibly, friends), there are a couple of enticing options out of the East: The Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics all have longer odds, but like we’ve seen in the playoffs, superteams are just an injury or two away from being just … teams. The Hawks took the Bucks to Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals and they’re only ascending from here. Another fact to keep in mind in the Eastern Conference: Only twice in the last 13 years has the team with the No. 1 seed reached the Finals.
Whatever you do, though, don’t put money on the Knicks. Bet with your head, not over it.