Championship Odds for Every NBA Team

Kelly Scaletta@@KellyScalettaFeatured ColumnistDecember 24, 2011

Championship Odds for Every NBA Team

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    Last year, Dirk Nowitzki played like a man possessed during the postseason and individually had one of the better postseason runs in the history of the game. Will he lead his revamped Maverick team to another title or will someone take the Larry O'Brien trophy away from him?

    Here are the odds that all 30 teams win it all. In each slide, I'll give you the Vegas Odds based on two different lines, Bovada and Just Bet, and I'll give you My Futuristically Accurate Odds (MFAO).

    Of course, if you disagree, you can just consider it My Far Out Opinion. 

    I'll also give you a fourth number, the "over/underrated" number. This number is a ratio of what the average of the two Vegas Odds are compared to my MFAO. The lower the number, the more underrated the team is. The number ranges from a low of -0.56 to a high of 3.00. A positive number means they are "overrated"; a negative number means they are underrated.

    I'll give you my assessment of why I have the teams where they are, and when different from the Vegas Odds, why I think the betting public has a different opinion. 

    The slides will be ordered according to my evaluation of their chances to win. 

    And of course, remember this is for entertainment purposes only. 

Toronto Raptors

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    Bovada: 20,000

    Just Bet: 20,000

    MFAO: 20,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: 0.00 

    The Raptors are the one team in my rankings, and in both Bovada and Just Bet, who are given the worst 20,000 odds. Toronto was bad last year and did nothing to get better this year. Their first round pick, Jonas Valanciunas, won't be available this year. They didn't really add anyone of significance.

    They are at the bottom of the list with good reason. 

Charlotte Bobcats

2 of 30

    Bovada: 15,500

    Just Bet: 14,000

    MFAO: 20,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: 0.18

    The Bobcats are rebuilding, and they are rebuilding the right way. The best way to rebuild is to be really bad, because that's the way you add talent. Barely making the postseason year after year only makes you marginal year after year. 

    The Bobcats have arguably the worst starting five in the NBA, but they have a couple of interesting young rookies in Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker. 

    Don't worry about the Bobcats winning, just watch them grow. 

Detroit Pistons

3 of 30

    Bovada: 20,000

    Just Bet: 14,000

    MFAO: 20,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: .18

    Detroit is a team that is at the bottom of the list but is actually sinking further down. I don't see any moves to really get better. In fact, it almost seems they dug in deeper in keeping most of their free agents. While amnestying Rip Hamilton made sense in light of last year's turmoils, it didn't make them any better. 

    I actually believe that Detroit is going at get worse before they get better. They have a real shot at being the worst team in the NBA this year, and Just Bet is overrating them with their 14,000 odds. 

Cleveland Cavaliers

4 of 30

    Bovada: 20,000

    Just Bet: 20,000

    MFAO: 17,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: -0.15

    Cleveland has done everything right since getting spurned by LeBron James. A year ago they were sitting on a roster that was built around James and horrible without him.

    Now suddenly they have a revamped roster bolstered with two of the top four picks in last year's draft in Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. 

    The Cavaliers won't be winning a title this year, but they'll have occasional bright rays of light. Don't be surprised if they have a few big wins over real contenders like Chicago or Miami. 

Minnesota Timberwolves

5 of 30

    Bovada: 15,000

    Just Bet: 20,000

    MFAO: 15,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: -0.14

    Here is a team that I honestly have no idea of what to expect. They've got Kevin Love, who lost 20 pounds and is expected to be even better. They've added Derrick Williams. They've added Ricky Rubio. They've added Rick Adelman. 

    There's a lot of mystery surrounding this team. They could be better and they could be worse. My best guess is to err on the side of improvement. My thinking is more in line with Bovada here. 

Sacramento Kings

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    Bovada: 15,000

    Just Bet: 20,000

    MFAO: 15,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: -0.14

    I think one of the more underreported stories of the offseason was the weight loss of DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins is absolutely loaded with talent and is poised to have a breakout year. 

    If he is, look for the Kings to be a real contender as a breakout team. With the shooting depth they have in Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette, an inside and outside threat that Cousins could produce could have the Kings as a sneaky threat to make the postseason. 

    That's why I have them listed at 15,000, but even that might be a bit conservative. 

Washington Wizards

7 of 30

    Bovada: 15,000

    Just Bet: 14,000

    MFAO: 15,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: 0.03

    The Wizards were 3-38 on the road and 20-21 at home. Another year of playing together for the youthful team should help to equalize that. One thing they really need, though, is to have Rashard Lewis step up as a veteran and lead the team in the locker room. 

    This team is not short on talent, but they are short on experience. A big part of what this team accomplishes is going to depend on how much they mature. Lewis could help a lot in that department. 

    All in all, the oddsmakers have this one about right, but the Wizards have some potential to breakout. 

New Orleans Hornets

8 of 30

    Bovada: 15,000

    Just Bet: 15,000

    MFAO: 14,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: -0.07

    The Hornets starting five is currently Jarrett Jack, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Chris Kaman and Emeka Okafor. That's actually not too bad, all things considered. 

    There's a danger of people paying so much attention to what the Hornets gave up, they fail to recognize what they got back in return. While it's doubtful they'll make it to the postseason, it's not impossible. 

    The Hornets are getting a bit underrated because they lost Paul. They do have a solid frontcourt if Kaman and Okur can stay healthy (admittedly a big if). Jack is a capable point guard and Gordon is a future All-Star. 

    This team can compete. 

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Bovada: 10,000

    Just Bet: 20,000

    MFAO: 15,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: -0.17

    The Bucks are a better team than they were last year. Without the injury bug plaguing them this year they have a chance to compete for a postseason spot. Certainly they have a better shot than what Just Bet is giving them at 20,000.

    The problem here is that there's some question as to whether they can avoid the injury bug. Stephen Jackson has already started having a back problem and Andrew Bogut hasn't played a complete year since he was a rookie. 

    The Bucks are underrated, but only slightly. With them it's more about how healthy they are than how good they are. They are both a good and risky bet to get to the postseason. 

Utah Jazz

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    Bovada: 10,000

    Just Bet: 20,000

    MFAO: 12,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: -0.20

    I'm basing the Jazz rankings here on the notion that they are going to use that trade exception they acquired in the Mehmet Okur trade to the New Jersey Nets.

    Already with one of the deepest frontcourts in the league and having a quality point guard in Devin Harris, they just need a wing to be a postseason-caliber team. 

Phoenix Suns

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    Bovada: 7,500

    Just Bet: 20,000

    MFAO: 10,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: -0.27

    I scratch my head at Bovada's ranking here. That's pretty steep. In fact they have the Suns ranked ahead of the 76ers, which makes no sense at all to me. 

    These Suns are set with Grant Hill and Steve Nash, two of the oldest players in the league, leading the way. 

    At the same time, I don't get Just Bet's rankings either. I don't see the Suns as being one of the worst in the league. 

    Look for the Suns to be somewhere in that "not-that-good-but-don't-take-them-for-granted" range. 

Golden State Warriors

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    Bovada: 10,000

    Just Bet: 20,000

    MFAO: 8,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: -0.47

    My ranking here is based on the Stephen Curry injury not being overly severe. As of right now, it's possible he'll be playing on the Christmas opener. 

    The Warriors haven't played defense in five years, but Mark Jackson promises to change that culture. The thing is that in the Warriors, the team has the ability to play defense, even if they haven't been encouraged to do so. 

    The Warriors are really being projected too low by both Bovada and Just Bet, and are my pick to be the best bet to be this year's "Grizzlies." Look for them to finish strong and sneak into the postseason. 

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Bovada: 10,000

    Just Bet: 20,000

    MFAO: 8,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: -0.47

    Just Bet should be embarrassed here. How can they have the 76ers behind the Wizards, a team they smacked around twice in the preseason. Go figure. 

    Philadelphia is a good team, but they are a great player away from being a great team. They'll be in the playoffs. They'll contest in the first round. They won't make it to the second round. 

    Still, both Bovada and Just Bet aren't showing enough respect here. 

Houston Rockets

14 of 30

    Bovada: 7,500

    Just Bet: 20,000

    MFAO: 8,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: -0.42

    The Houston Rockets were the team which had the biggest difference between their Pythagorean Win total and their actual win total last season. Essentially that means they should have won four more games than they actually did. 

    Now they're adding Samuel Dalembert, a real-life center, after an offseason of struggling to get one. The Rockets will be better in a weaker Western Conference. 

Denver Nuggets

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    Bovada: 6,500

    Just Bet: 8,000

    MFAO: 7,500

    Over/Underrated Ratio: 0.03

    My question with the Nuggets is, who will step up and lead the team? I have concerns they are a team built almost entirely of good, solid role players.

    Are Arron Afflalo and Nene enough to carry a team to a deep postseason run?

    I come down somewhere between Bovada and Just Bet here. I think they have enough depth and talent to be a good regular season team, but without a superstar it's hard to see who is going to shoulder the team once they hit the postseason. 

Atlanta Hawks

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    Bovada: 5,000

    Just Bet: 6,000

    MFAO: 7,500

    Over/Underrated Ratio: 0.36

    Quick question. Who is the oldest team in the NBA? Boston? Nope. San Antonio? Nope.

    It's the Atlanta Hawks, who have an average age of 30.14. 

    I point this out because the Hawks are no longer this young, upstart team improving from year to year. They are now a team whose window closed after a couple of seasons of being open. This nucleus isn't enough to win, and they got worse, not better. 

    Vegas is giving them too much credit. 


Indiana Pacers

17 of 30

    Bovada: 7,500

    Just Bet: 20,000

    MFAO: 6,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: -0.56 

    I think the difference between the Bovada and Just bet rankings is a good description of what has happened in Indiana this year. They have gotten a lot better, but they've done so very quietly. Between new coach Frank Vogel and adding George Hill and David West, this team has become a top-five team in the East.

    Some have noticed and some haven't. Overall, I think even Bovada is selling them short for one reason: Indiana still has $14.5 million to spend. They can still get better. 

Orlando Magic

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    Bovada: 2,800

    Just Bet: 2,500

    MFAO: 5,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: 0.89

    I think Vegas is basing their odds on the notion that Dwight Howard sticks around for the full season. The problem is, he's probably not. There's a sliver of a chance he stays, but even if he does, the Magic aren't going to win a title. 

    They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again thinking this time it will work. The Magic seem to be insane. 

    The whole idea of nothing but points from the three and points at the rim isn't working. Eventually, teams are able to force them to beat you four out of seven from deep. That doesn't happen when you get good defenses that challenge outside shots. 

    The Magic's chances range from slim if they keep Howard, to none if they don't. 

New Jersey Nets

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    Bovada: 5,000

    Just Bet: 4,500

    MFAO: 4,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: -0.16

    I'm basing my rankings here on the roughly 50/50 chance the Nets land the aforementioned Dwight Howard. 

    If they are able to land him in a trade, Deron Williams and Howard would comprise the best point guard/center tandem since Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played together, or at least since Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway played together. 

    While the tandem would make them dangerous, they would need time together before they really clicked. Vegas has this one about right. 

Boston Celtics

20 of 30

    Bovada: 1,400

    Just Bet: 1,500

    MFAO: 4,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio: 1.76

    Vegas has Boston as the sixth most likely team to win. This is not 2008; it's 2012. This team is getting old. They have no depth. On top of that, they are going to have the struggles of playing the condensed lockout schedule. 

    They are going to be lucky to hold on to top-four seed in the East.

    Frankly, the only reason I can fathom that they are ranked so high is that there is such a large fanbase the betting public is skewing the line.  

San Antonio Spurs

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    Bovada: 3,000

    Just Bet: 3,000

    MFAO: 3,500

    Over/Underrated Ratio: 0.17

    San Antonio had a great regular season for most of last year, defying odds by pushing an uptempo style of game in spite of having one of the oldest teams in the league. The problem is that while it worked for a while, by the end of the season they couldn't keep it up anymore. 

    By the end of the year, they were struggling and they got ousted in the first round. 

    It's hard to understand how a year later they are going to do any better. I think they are getting a little too much credit because of their history, but this is another group past their prime. 

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Bovada: 3,500

    Just Bet: 3,500

    MFAO: 3,000

    Over/Underrated Ratio:- 0.17

    Portland is a team that has a great chance to be a surprise contender. They have tremendous depth and a lot of talent in their starting five. What I like about them is that they are loaded with players that play both sides of the ball.

    If you're looking for a sneaky bet to win it all, you could do a lot worse than Portland. 

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Bovada: 2,500

    Just Bet: 2,200

    MFAO: 2,500

    Over/Underrated Ratio: 0.06

    The Memphis Grizzlies really broke out the last half of last season, but it was almost breaking out by necessity. With their leading scorer, Rudy Gay, out the Grizzlies started working an inside-out game. There's a lot of question as to whether Gay's return will affect that. 

    Honestly, there's no reason they shouldn't be able to be even better with Gay returning if they manage the situation correctly. Everyone wants to pencil in the Thunder to the Finals, but the Grizzlies could really give them a challenge. 

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Bovada: 1,500

    Just Bet: 5,500

    MFAO: 1,800

    Over/Underrated Ratio: -0.49

    The Clippers are the most improved team in the NBA this year, and most aren't going to argue that. "Lob Angeles" is here to stay. 

    While there's an outside chance the Clippers can win it all, the team is probably going to need a year together and a postseason run before they can get to the finals. 

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Bovada: 500

    Just Bet: 250

    MFAO: 1,800

    Over/Underrated Ratio: 3.8

    To me this is easily the most overrated team in the NBA based on the Vegas odds. Both Bovada and Just Bet have them as the second most likely team to win it all. 

    Huh what?

    This is a team that was too old last year, got swept last year, got older during the offseason and got worse last year while sending one of their best players to the team that swept them, essentially for free. 

    No. Just no. The Lakers are hugely overrated because of their enormous fan base. 

    Kobe Bryant's strength of will and "wanting it more" wasn't enough last year and it won't be enough this year. 

New York Knicks

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    Bovada: 1,800

    Just Bet: 2,00

    MFAO: 1,500

    Over/Underrated Ratio: -0.21

    The Knicks are a tough team for me to gauge because there are so many unknown variables. For me, the biggest is one that hasn't been discussed much, which is whether Tyson Chandler really fits right.

    First, I'm concerned that there's some overreaction to the Mavericks postseason run and Chandler's role in it. If I were to ask you last year who the prize of the 2011 free-agent market was, how many would have listed Chandler as the top get?

    I don't think very many would. Chandler had a great postseason run and a part of that is how well he fit with Dirk Nowitzki. It also had to do with the fact hat his defensive style meshed perfectly with the system the Mavericks ran. 

    The other question is in regards to when Baron Davis will return and how good he will be when he does. 

    My thought is they both end up being a good fit.

    At the same time, I don't see this team being a good enough defense to win it all. They simply don't have enough defensively-conscious players to really get mandatory stops down the line in a playoff series against great teams. 

    I think they have the nucleus of a champion, but they still are missing some pieces in the way of role players. 


Dallas Mavericks

27 of 30

    Bovada: 1,100

    Just Bet: 1,000

    MFAO: 1,200

    Over/Underrated Ratio: 0.14

    The Mavericks are the defending champions, but they've lost the missing piece that finally won them a championship in Tyson Chandler. To a degree, they've made that up in getting Lamar Odom. 

    However that's not the only piece they lost. They lost JJ Barea and DeShawn Stephenson, although the latter is offset by the signing of Vince Carter. 

    Honestly, I just want to see how they play together for a while before I settle too strongly on an opinion. They still have a large chunk of the players they won with and they might be getting overlooked to a degree. 

    The only thing is that everyone else didn't stand still. Even if they are as good this year as they were last year, there are still teams that passed them by. 

Oklahoma City Thunder

28 of 30

    Bovada: 750

    Just Bet: 650

    MFAO: 800

    Over/Underrated Ratio: 0.14

    The best team in the Western Conference is the Oklahoma City Thunder. If James Harden can have the breakout year that he's expected to have, this team could really be something special. 

    The thing they need to establish though is that last year they were only the 14th-best defense in the NBA in terms of defensive ranking. After Kendrick Perkins came, they raised that to the ninth best. Since the merger, only one team has won the NBA title without a top-10 defense. 

    The Thunder's real chance of winning comes down to their willingness to play defense. 

Chicago Bulls

29 of 30

    Bovada: 750

    Just Bet: 650

    MFAO: 800

    Over/Underrated Ratio: 0.75

    During the postseason, the Rose-led Bulls struggled to get their offense going. In Richard Hamilton's first game, they struggled like water struggles to flow downhill. It was an effortless, fluid offense that just kept flowing towards the weakest spot on the defense and scored. 

    It wasn't characterized by breathtaking plays (though there were a few) so much as it was by finding and taking advantage of the easiest shot on the court. 

    If the Bulls can play like that this season, they will be the best team in the NBA in the regular season and the postseason. 

Miami Heat

30 of 30

    Bovada: 200

    Just Bet: 200

    MFAO: 250

    Over/Underrated Ratio: 0.25

    The Heat are being heavily touted as the favorites to win the title. Right now you can argue they have the two best basketball players in the world.

    LeBron James worked on his post game. Chris Bosh bulked up. This team worked out in the offseason like a team that is hungry and wants to win. 

    They deserve to be the favorites, but let's hold off on giving them the trophy. Their two weakest positions are the two most important on the court. That hasn't changed. 

    They also had to rebuild a large part of their rotation, and that's going to mean there's some chemistry issues in their second team. 

    They are deservedly in the top spot, but they are beatable.