After a grueling 82-game schedule, the 16 best teams in the NBA have been awarded berths to the postseason and now a brand new season begins to decide a champion. The slate is wiped clean and the records are thrown out. Theoretically, each team has the same chance to win, but as always, there are the favorites. Here are the futures odds and our top value picks with those odds to win the 2013 NBA title.
Miami Heat – 5/8
The Heat are the odds-on favorites to win repeat as NBA champions as rightfully so. They dominate regular season opponents, going 66-16 this year, and even completed the second longest winning streak in NBA history, as they went on a 27-game tear that last almost two months.
The biggest reason to like the Heat though, is that they basically have the same team they did last year – the team that won the 2012 NBA championship. So, the only reason they wouldn’t win it again is if they faced injuries in the playoffs or simply underperformed, but as we’ve seen with this team, that’s not likely.
Of course, the 5/8 odds don’t give bettors a big money-making opportunity and considering they are other capable teams out there, maybe the Heat aren’t the best value pick? Let’s have a look at a couple other contenders.
Oklahoma City Thunder – 17/4
After meeting in the NBA Finals last year, the Thunder proved to be a formidable opponent for the Heat, but in 2012, they weren’t quite ready to win it all. This year, they have just as strong of a team and the added experience, so they have a reasonably better chance to win the championship now.
That’s why their 17/4 odds present some decent value. They are the clear favorites out of the West, meaning that they are the clear favorites to meet the Heat for a rematch in this year’s final series. And since they’ve stayed healthy and have an arguably deeper team than last year, the Thunder could upend the Heat this time. The Thunder are a solid pick here at 17/4, but we must look on.
New York Knicks – 16/1
We’re skipping the Spurs at 10/1 because…well…the Spurs are old, and they haven’t performed well in the postseason in years, so they aren’t a real threat, but the Knicks certainly are this season.
Not only are the Knicks the second best team in the East, but they are a team that is fully capable of upsetting the Heat, which appears to be a mandatory trait in a championship team this year. The Knicks are 3-1 against the Heat so far this year, so we know they can win in Miami and in New York against the league’s best.
The Knicks don’t really play a “team” game, but the sum of their exquisite individual performers has contributed to some big and often impressive wins. New York has put together several long win steaks and they’ll likely have to get hot at the right time, but it certainly could happen. Consider the Knicks a solid pick as well at 16/1, but maybe not quite as good as the more balanced Thunder.
Denver Nuggets – 25/1
The Nuggets were my dark horse pick earlier in the season, but after an incredible second half of the season, Denver is a legitimate title contender now.
The Nuggets don’t always defend well, but they have the best scoring squad in the league and the second best rebounding team. They play physical on the inside and shoot well from the outside. The combination has been lethal to opponents all season long and that combo could carry the Nuggets deep into the postseason as well.
Of course, the Nuggets aren’t as experienced in big games as some of these other teams, so it will be interesting to see how they perform under pressure, but you can’t go wrong here at 25/1. Even a small wager could pay off big if the Nuggets get the job done.