Updated NBA Title Odds Post-Mike Brown Firing
This changes everything.
Source: Mike D'Antoni will be the next coach of the Lakers. Not Phil Jackson.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) November 12, 2012
Now, not to diminish Brown's abilities as a coach or Jackson's reputation, but this was a genius move by the Lakers organization.
Not only are they free from the shackles that became the Princeton blueprint, but the team doesn't have to worry about its head coach not making road trips and engaging in a power struggle with the front office.
Oh, and not to mention that D'Antoni's free-flowing offense will finally help Los Angeles realize—and subsequently actualize—its true potential as a powerhouse and conceivable dynasty.
But what does that mean for the Lakers' title chances? And how does their movement impact the championship picture for the rest of the NBA?
Let's find out.
30. Detroit Pistons: 1,000,000:1
And we thought the Charlotte Bobcats were going to be bad this season.
To date, the Detroit Pistons are one of two winless NBA teams. That's a problem.
Greg Monroe has continued to be sound, Brandon Knight has emerged as a nice surprise and Andre Drummond hasn't been terrible. That said, this team lacks potency on offense and is hardly a force on defense.
Rodney Stuckey's atrocious start hasn't helped their cause, either.
So while it's all about the future in Detroit, the team is off to a more troubling start than most would have imagined.
And subsequently, nowhere near a respectable push towards relevancy, let alone title contention.
29. Charlotte Bobcats: 950,000:1
There is hope for Charlotte yet.
Just not now, or even in the near future.
The Bobcats should consider it an accomplishment that they're not the worst team in the NBA currently.
Kemba Walker improved his playmaking abilities by leaps and bounds, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been the two-way workhorse everyone expected him to be.
However, this squad is still light years away from competency and will have to settle for a 20-game milestone at best.
But hey, maybe five-to-10 years from now, things will be different.
28. Washington Wizards: 750,000:1
Meet the other half of the NBA's winless club.
Though I'd like to say I have more faith in the Washington Wizards, I simply don't.
Not only is John Wall's return anything but imminent, but Bradley Beal isn't being used properly. Aside from infuriating the masses, that all but ensures this team finishes near the bottom of the league's standings once again.
I mean, come on, when your leading scorer is Kevin Seraphin—aside from being downright shocked—you know you have problems.
27. Orlando Magic: 500,000:1
Well, it appears the Orlando Magic are on pace to win more than 20 games this season without Dwight Howard.
Color me impressed.
That said, don't believe for a minute that this team is going to play .500 basketball for the entire season, let alone clinch a playoff berth.
There's still simply too many holes to plug and too many talents to develop on this roster. Jameer Nelson's and Hedo Turkoglu's health bills aren't helping things, either.
On the bright side, though, Arron Afflalo has looked pretty good on more than one occasion. So, yes, there is that.
That, however, isn't enough.
26. New Orleans Hornets: 250,000:1
This kills me. It really does.
At full strength, I could see the New Orleans Hornets in the playoffs. The only problem is, I can't see them at full strength.
Not only is Eric Gordon's knee a wealth of uncertainty, but Austin Rivers appears to be more similar to Stephen Curry than we thought, as he continues to battle an ankle injury.
Don't overlook Anthony Davis' concussion, either. That could come back to haunt him and the team later on.
There's really nothing else to say other than perhaps next year.
Injuries permitting, of course.
25. Sacramento Kings: 150,000:1
The Sacramento Kings aren't as terrible as we first imagined, but they're still a ways away from any sort of prominence.
DeMarcus Cousins continues to be a force in the paint, Thomas Robinson has shown glimpses of promise when he's not busy assaulting fellow athletes, and my man crush on Isaiah Thomas is in full swing.
But it's not going to be enough to carry this group out of the league's doldrums.
Cousins has yet to emerge as a leader and their overall offensive attack can get pretty messy; Sacramento is scoring under 93 points per contest and no one is dishing out more than 3.2 assists per game.
Until this team embraces the art of consistency and teamwork, winning even 30 games will be considered peaking.
24. Toronto Raptors: 100,000:1
Kyle Lowry and company still have plenty to figure out, and his injury isn't helping things.
Though the Toronto Raptors were supposed to contend for a playoff spot this season, it's becoming abundantly clear the pieces to their complex puzzle don't fit together just yet.
If it's not Lowry's nasty injury, it's Landry Fields' poor performance or Jonas Valanciunas' rookie struggles; there's always an obstacle standing in the way of Toronto's aspirations.
Moving forward, however, with a healthy Lowry and Andrea Bargnani, and perhaps an efficient showing from the newly extended DeMar DeRozan, this team has hope.
Just not this season.
23. Phoenix Suns: 75,000:1
Goran Dragic and the Phoenix Suns are an extremely fun team to watch.
Five Phoenix players are averaging well into double figures on the season, and offseason acquisitions like Dragic and Luis Scola have impressed.
That said, the Suns have an extremely thin bench. Outside of their starting five, there isn't much production coming from anyone, on either end of the floor.
Make no mistake, while this team may toil with staying at or around .500 all season long, they're a project.
A project that is still far from making any kind of championship-caliber noise.
22. Cleveland Cavaliers: 50,000:1
Dion Waiters, you have convinced me.
Not convinced me that you deserved to be taken fourth overall in the draft, but that you do have potential at the NBA level.
As for Kyrie Irving, you continue to torch me in a number of fantasy leagues, so I have nothing but the utmost respect for what you're currently doing.
However, while it's become clear there is a promising future for the Cleveland Cavaliers, that future is not now. There are still too many questions to answer and inconsistencies to correct, especially on defense, where the Cavs are giving up more than 102 points per contest.
Don't worry, though, Cleveland, your day will come sometime soon.
Again, that day just isn't today.
21. Milwaukee Bucks: 25,000:1
The Milwaukee Bucks have sold me.
Sold me on another season where they'll toil with playoff contention, but ultimately fall short.
Both Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are a heartbeat away from proving their doubters wrong, and whatever Larry Sanders is drinking, I'd like some.
However, for all the glitz and glam, the Bucks are a facade.
Ersan Ilyasova's contract has already left a bad taste in my mouth, and there's no way Mike Dunleavy or Sanders continue their current tears.
Throw in the absence of a capable low-post presence on offense, and I'm left demanding that John Henson receive more than 17 minutes per game.
Which is never an indication a team is prepared to contend for a title.
20. Houston Rockets: 10,000:1
OK, the party's over.
I have high hopes for what James Harden and Jeremy Lin can accomplish with the Houston Rockets. Really, I do.
But right now, those hopes extend well beyond this season.
Currently, the Rockets are heading for a rude awakening, if the Denver Nuggets haven't given it to them already.
Defenses are going to adjust to Harden, and Houston's absence of a center who can compress defenses on offense is going to eventually cripple them.
Once this team adds one or two more pieces to the puzzle, though, contention will be well within reach.
Right now, however, the Rockets remain a longer-than-long shot to win the title.
19. Portland Trail Blazers: 1,000:1
Damian Lillard makes me want to put the Portland Trail Blazers higher, but I'd be remiss if I ignored reality.
And the reality is that Portland cannot keep up with teams like the Los Angeles Clippers or San Antonio Spurs—the West's top dogs—right now.
With Lillard in place alongside LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, and Wesley Matthews lighting it up, this team has plenty to look forward to.
But until the Blazers find themselves a formidable bench, they'll be one of those teams you love to watch that still wind up in the lottery.
18. Golden State Warriors: 1,000:1
If only Andrew Bogut didn't bruise like a peach.
The Golden State Warriors are a much deeper team than people recognize, yet that depth probably won't even be enough to earn them a postseason appearance.
Stephen Curry and David Lee have been sensational, while Klay Thompson, Jarrett Jack and even Festus Ezeli continue to impress. I've still got high hopes for Harrison Barnes as well.
Outside of that, though, this team remains inexperienced and inconsistent. One night, they'll dismantle Clippers and the next, they'll lose to the Kings.
Take solace in knowing you're nearly there, Warriors fans, but it's going to take another year of refining and healing before you're ready to make the jump to the next level.
17: Utah Jazz: 750:1
Before you flood the comments section with less-than-kind words, let me explain.
It's not that the Jazz aren't a talented bunch, because they are. But this team lacks consistency and that kill-first mentality.
I've been extensively impressed with how well Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors have matured, and Randy Foye is a three-point savant waiting to explode, but that doesn't overshadow the fact that the Jazz have struggled early on.
Though they've beaten teams like the Dallas Mavericks and the Lakers, they didn't come close to running with the San Antonio Spurs and were unimpressive against the likes of the Memphis Grizzlies and Hornets.
Plus, I'm convinced Utah deals either Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap, or both, before the season's out.
One or more departure of that caliber will likely cripple the team's title hopes, perhaps even playoff hopes as well.
16: Minnesota Timberwolves: 500:1
Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio are nowhere to be found, but the Minnesota Timberwolves haven't missed a beat.
Nilkola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko have really stepped up in their absence and given the team hope.
What kind of hope?
Hope that they'll be able to hold the fort down long enough so Minnesota can contend for the playoffs upon Love and Rubio's return.
With that in mind, however, the Timberwolves are far from elite. Guys like Brandon Roy and Derrick Williams continue to underperform, and once the team gets its stars back, chemistry becomes an issue.
So, while the postseason is not yet out of reach, the Larry O'Brien Trophy certainly is.
15. Indiana Pacers: 250:1
The Indiana Pacers have shown no semblance of a championship contender.
It's not just that they lost to the Bobcats or that Danny Granger's return is anything but on the horizon. It's that this team is scoring at an extremely low rate and lacks any sort of visible leadership.
David West continues to lead the way to some extent, but $58 million-man Roy Hibbert is nowhere to be found. And while I've liked what I've seen from Paul George thus far, he's still too young to lead this cause.
Throw in the fact that they've struggled against a few inferior teams early on and you have a team that lacks any sort of identity.
As well as one that peaks with a playoff berth.
14. Atlanta Hawks: 150:1
Is anyone else impressed with what they've seen from the Atlanta Hawks thus far?
Not only did this team beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on their turf without Josh Smith, but they overcame a massive fourth-quarter deficit to put the Pacers to shame.
As excited as I am to see what this team can do with Smith and Al Horford both healthy, I've got plenty of reservations.
Why? Because they're still mediocre.
Nothing about the Hawks screams dominance, not one area of the game. And that's a problem.
No matter how many wins this team piles up in the regular season, it still lacks the depth necessary to make it out of the second round of the playoffs.
13: Brooklyn Nets: 100:1
Deron Williams and company are going to get their act together. Mark my words.
The Brooklyn Nets' defensive attack has been absolutely abominable, yet there's something about Avery Johnson that makes me believe he'll get his team motivated on both ends of the floor before the year's out.
What concerns me most about this team, however, is that it's fragile. From Williams to Gerald Wallace to Brook Lopez, Brooklyn is an extensive injury away from catastrophe.
And while it's still early in the season, the Nets have gone up against the best in the Miami Heat and been slaughtered. They've also gone up against the mediocre in the Timberwolves and gotten the shaft there as well.
Yes, Brooklyn does have the makings of a contender. Just not one that even comes close to winning the title.
12. Philadelphia 76ers: 95:1
I believe in Jrue Holiday and so should you.
That said, I don't trust anyone else on the Philadelphia 76ers' roster, including Andrew Bynum.
Not only is it overwhelmingly disconcerting that there is no timetable for Bynum's return, but it's extremely troubling that no one besides Holiday has stepped up in his absence.
Fear not, though, Philly, because you make the playoffs even without your big man. The team is that deep and that staunch a defender.
However, even if Bynum returns ready to dominate, this squad is not a top-10 team.
Not yet, anyway.
11. Dallas Mavericks: 75:1
Someone needs to tell the Mavericks that they were supposed to be horrible this season.
Despite missing its best player in Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas has gotten off to a fast start, proving to the basketball world that it's talented enough to contend with the league's best.
O.J. Mayo has finally regained his step, Darren Collison has an unconditional green light and I love it, and the Mavericks have an understated, yet gritty big man in Chris Kaman.
Once Nowitzki reenters the fold, this team will be even more dangerous.
Like make-it-out-of-the-first-round-of-the-playoffs dangerous.
10. Boston Celtics: 60:1
I'm going to be honest. I'm not happy with the Boston Celtics.
Not only did the boys in green disappoint against the Heat, but they wasted far too much time attempting to put away the lowly Wizards. Twice.
And it's not that Washington is good, either, because it isn't. The Celtics are just struggling on both ends of the floor.
Rajon Rondo remains a stud, but Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry aren't contributing nearly as much as they need to. We could chalk it up to early-onset struggles, yet given their age, their drop-off is likely permanent.
Paul Pierce continues to do his job, but Courtney Lee is struggling to adjust to life next to Rondo. The backcourt as a whole needs Avery Bradley back badly as well.
Toss Boston's continued deficiency on the glass into the mix, and here's a team that is not the contender we were led to believe it was.
9. Chicago Bulls: 50:1
Derrick Rose be damned.
OK, that was slightly harsh, but you get my point.
Even without their cornerstone, the Chicago Bulls continue to take care of business. It isn't always pretty, but then again, it doesn't always have to be.
The Bulls continue to be one of league's top defensive teams, and they're playing good enough on offense to keep from red-flagging them.
Most importantly, though, Joakim Noah has emerged as a two-way star. Yes, that includes offense. No really, he leads the team in scoring.
And aside from him, Chicago is receiving adequate production from Luol Deng and Nate Robinson.
Should Rose return at any point this season as well, this team becomes even more of a threat.
Now if only the Bulls could do something about Carlos Boozer...
8. New York Knicks: 40:1
Now, if you've read me before, you know I'm the New York Knicks' biggest critic. What you also need to know, though, is I can't deny them my compliments any longer.
New York is straight-up killing it. The Knicks aren't just winning; they're dismantling. They are posting the largest win differential in the league and clicking on all cylinders, especially from behind the arc.
So tell me that it's early. Tell me the Heat didn't play their best and the Sixers are down Andrew Bynum. Tell me Carmelo Anthony isn't a real leader. I don't care.
Let's not forget, New York is down two key components in Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert, yet has found ways to win anyway.
And while I'm not saying the Knicks win it all, I am saying they're one of the greatest threats to.
Because they are.
7. Denver Nuggets: 30:1
Denver you disappoint me.
When the Nuggets came into the season, I expected them to dominate. Instead, they've struggled.
Danilo Gallinari continues to be M.I.A., while Wilson Chandler hasn't played up to snuff, either. Ty Lawson is certainly earning his paycheck, as is Andre Iguodala, but Denver has found ways to lose nonetheless.
That said, this team will ultimately get it together. It's too fundamentally sound and deep not to.
Plus, George Karl is a playbook-wielding genius who won't only solve his team's current problems, but also turn JaVale McGee into a star.
Which means even better days are on the horizon in Denver.
6. Memphis Grizzlies: 30:1
Rudy Gay and the Memphis Grizzlies are playing terrific basketball.
Not only is the loss to the Clippers in the rearview mirror, but for the first time in years, Memphis boasts a prolific backcourt. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have played excellent ball as well.
And don't even get me started on Mike Conley; the man's a stud.
If I could find one thing to gripe about, it would be that Jerryd Bayless deserves more burn.
But hey, if it's not broke, don't even think about trying to fix it, right?
5. Los Angeles Clippers: 25:1
The Clippers continue to amaze me. This time in a good way, though.
Blake Griffin may not be playing up to his usual standards, but a burst bursa sac does that to a guy.
Luckily for Los Angeles, there has been no shortage guys willing to step up.
Chris Paul has been his usual self, but DeAndre Jordan has improved by leaps and bounds. I mean, this guy actually boasts a low-post game now. Go figure.
Then there's Jamal Crawford, who—surprisingly—has been a wealth of efficiency and leads the team in scoring.
From top to bottom, the Clippers are just clicking.
In fact, if it hadn't been for their disappointing losses against Golden State and Cleveland, I may have already crowned them Western Conference champs.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: 20:1
Without James Harden, the Thunder suddenly seem thin.
Don't get me wrong. Kevin Martin has played quite well, but Oklahoma City's offensive attack simply doesn't seem as potent.
And as for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, they both seem lost at times without their bearded friend.
Will this team get it together? I believe so, but it's going to take some time. Harden was a huge part of the Thunder's offense and one of the main reasons they were so dominant on a consistent basis.
So while you shouldn't believe the verbal sludge that is being spewed about them not being contenders, understand that their struggles against teams like the Hawks and Rose-less Bulls mean something.
What exactly? That this team, for the first time in three years, is without an identity and has some work to do to get back to its previous form.
If that's even an option.
3. San Antonio Spurs: 10:1
Don't let their loss to the Clippers fool you; the San Antonio Spurs are a force to be reckoned with.
Yes, they're old and I'll understand if you opt to believe they'll fade down the stretch. But, what I beg you to realize is that this is a better team than the one from last year.
Not only is Tim Duncan turning back the clock, but Tony Parker is playing at an extremely high level. Sure, Manu Ginobili isn't, but understand that young guns like Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green are one year wiser. Under Gregg Popovich, that also means they're one-more-year dangerous.
So don't count the Spurs out. These next couple of years could very well be their swan song.
And no one on this roster is gong to let that time just pass without a championship-worthy fight.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: 5:1
Goodbye, Mike Brown. Hello, Mike D'Antoni and legitimate title contention.
I understand most people wanted Phil Jackson to be the next coach, but there comes a time when a franchise has to move on. And now, the Lakers finally have.
D'Antoni is a great fit for this team. Not only has he been successful with Steve Nash in the past, but he has a strong relationship with Bryant. And let's face it, gaining the respect of the Black Mamba is half the battle.
Los Angeles also has one of the most mobile big men to ever play the game in Dwight Howard. He'll be able to flourish in transition with D'Antoni's seven seconds or less offense.
Additionally, Howard serves as the defensive pillar to counteract the new coach's lack of defensive emphasis, meaning such systematic shortcomings won't be as prevalent with him in the lineup.
As for those who believe the Lakers starting five isn't fit for D'Antoni's "one-in, four-out offense," because Pau Gasol isn't a true stretch forward, keep this in mind: Nearly a third of Gasol's offense came between 16 and 23 feet last season, and he shot 43 percent while doing so.
Sure, Jackson would have been the easy choice. His tactics have worked in the past and he had the public endorsement of Kobe as well.
But it was time for the Lakers to move on. Like really move on.
By hiring D'Antoni, they did just that, while also greatly increasing their chances at winning a championship this season.
1. Miami Heat: 3:1
If it wasn't for the Knicks, the Heat may have prematurely had themselves fitted for a second championship ring in as many years. Just to be safe.
LeBron James and company have struggled to play defense at times, but really picked up their efforts against the Nets. Not to mention that when you're scoring 110 points a night, defense becomes borderline optional anyway.
I completely understand that teams like the Lakers, Spurs and even Thunder are major threats, but I just don't see Miami letting up anytime soon. Aside from James, Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen continue to thrive, and Chris Bosh and Rashard Lewis have been studs as well.
How are other teams supposed to compete with that?
And if the Heat keep this up, they won't.
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