After a busy offseason, oddsmakers have evaluated the NBA and handicapped the field for the 2018-19 season.
The Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets are the front-runners to make the postseason, and the new-look Los Angeles Lakers have the 11th-best odds:
There aren't any surprises at the top of the list.
The Golden State Warriors have been to four consecutive NBA Finals, winning three while setting the NBA regular-season record with 73 wins in the year they didn't hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Plus, they added All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins this summer.
Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets added 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony to a team that finished with the best record (65-17) in the NBA a season ago and came within one game of the Finals.
In the East, the Boston Celtics should have a healthy Gordon Hayward (ankle) and Kyrie Irving (knee) to add to a squad that fell one game shy of the Finals last season. The Toronto Raptors, on the other hand, acquired two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green after winning a franchise-record 59 games in 2017-18.
Perhaps the most surprising part of the list is how far down the Lakers are. Sure, they are in the midst of a five-year playoff drought. However, they made the splash of the offseason by signing LeBron James, who has made eight consecutive Finals. Los Angeles also added former champion Rajon Rondo, two-time champ JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley.
The Lakers wil try to mesh those veterans with a young roster that features Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart. It will be tough to bet against any team that stars one of the greatest players ever.
James' former club, the Cleveland Cavaliers, are viewed as long shots to return to the playoffs at +325 (bet $100 to win $325). The Cavs locked up five-time All-Star Kevin Love to a five-year, $113 million extension after James left, and they took point guard Collin Sexton with the eighth pick in the NBA draft.
The 2018-19 season tips off Oct. 16.