Like it or not, the Miami Heat are the 2013 NBA Champions. It is officially in the history books. Don’t get discouraged thought, there is always next year for your team. On that note, let’s take a look at who the betting guys think will win it all next season:
#1 – Miami Heat – Odds to Win Championship = 2/1
There is no question that the Heat are the best team in the NBA, and will remain so until somebody knocks them off. They have won back-to-back championships, and have made it into the Finals the last 3 years. They have the best player on the planet, in his prime. Wade and Bosh are not the players they once were, but being paired with LeBron helps. Long story short, they are absolutely the team to beat.
#2 – Oklahoma City Thunder – Odds to Win Championship = 6/1
There is good news and bad news in Oklahoma. The bad news: for the first time in the young franchise’s life, there are some concerning questions. The good news: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are still wearing Thunder jerseys. The Thunder traded away the dynamic James Harden for Kevin Martin, who is now with Minnesota. Ibaka has lost confidence in his shot, and Perkins has become a disaster. Despite that, Oklahoma is still the favorite in the West, and for good reason. It has got to be nice having 2 of the top 10 players in the NBA to pick up the slack.
#3 – Houston Rockets – Odds to Win Championship = 9/1
Two years, two big time players added to the roster. James Harden proved himself as more than just a nice piece with his performance last season. This year they landed the biggest name on the market, Dwight Howard. Howard is unquestionably the best rebounder in the league, and when healthy he has proved to be one of the best defenders in the NBA. They still have some nice pieces in Jeremy Lin and Omar Asik, who they might package together to land another big-time player to compliment Harden and Howard. Dwight had a hard time playing nicely with others in L.A., but Harden is well versed in playing with other stars form his Oklahoma City days.
#4 – Los Angeles Clippers – Odds to Win Championship = 10/1
CP3 is staying, that alone makes the Clippers a legitimate title threat. If the Clippers can add some shooting around him and space the floor, the sky is the limit. They are solid down low, solid and very exciting to watch. Blake Griffin is a great player, and the more experience he gains, the better he will become. DeAndre Jordan is an athletic freak, he does things that just don’t seem possible. However, he is notoriously inconsistent and can be unfocussed at times. Adding Doc Rivers to the bench will give them a much needed leader at the helm.
#5 – Chicago Bulls – Odds to Win Championship = 11/1
The Bulls made it past the first round of the playoffs, and even gave the Heat a brief scare before being put out; More importantly though, they did it without their best player, Derrick Rose. Rose sat out the whole year, rehabbing his blown-out knee. He was reportedly ready to go by the end of the playoffs, so having a full offseason for rehab, plus very well rested legs should have Rose ready to go for this upcoming season. When Rose is healthy, he is arguably the best point guard in the league, so adding him to a playoff roster very possibly could have major championship implications.
#6 – San Antonio Spurs – Odds to Win Championship = 12/1
The Spurs were 24 minutes away from winning another NBA Championship last season. Despite that, this upcoming season looks like it will be another round of “they are too old to win it all again … right?” It seems that every year the Spurs are faced with tons of critics claiming they are too old, too slow, and too far over-the-hill to compete for the championship. It also seems that they prove these critics wrong on a regular basis. While it is true that the team’s core is old by NBA standards, they have gotten a shot of youthful energy through big contributions from Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter. It’s true that San Antonio can’t hang around forever with this roster, but don’t write them off just yet.
#7 – Brooklyn Nets – Odds to Win Championship = 14/1
It has been a crazy summer in Brooklyn. Since buying the team, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has been spending money like a frat guy at last call. While that money hasn’t bought any banners yet, it has assembled a nice group of starters: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Brook Lopez. One of the biggest questions, if not the biggest question, is how will Jason Kidd handle the transition from player to coach. There are not many instances of a player wearing a jersey one year, and wearing a suit while coaching a team the next season.
#8 – Indiana Pacers – Odds to Win Championship = 15/1
The Pacers had many Heat fans more than just a little nervous last year heading into Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. While that game turned out to be very one-sided, it also confirmed that Indiana is a team to be reckoned with. When you add Danny Granger, who was hurt last year, to that roster, it is not hard to imagine them hanging a few championship banners. The playoffs largely turned into a coming-out party for Paul George, who still has many years to get better. Combine the raw talent of George with the young, dangerous roster of Indiana, and glory can’t be that far off.
#9 – Golden State Warriors – Odds to Win Championship = 16/1
The Warriors have the best shooting-frontcourt in the NBA, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson don’t miss many shots. They are really good from the perimeter, and because they are so young, they will be good for many years to come. The Warriors had a very impressive season, especially when you take into account the injuries they endured. When Andrew Bogut is 100%, he is on the short-list of premiere centers in the league. David Lee went down in the playoffs, and showed tremendous heart putting in what minutes he could. New addition Andre Iguodala is a lock-down defender, explosive with the ball, and a positive influence in the locker room. Harrison Barnes is an exciting young talent that rounds out Golden State’s roster nicely.
#10 (TIED) – Memphis Grizzlies & New York Knicks – Odds to Win Championship = 25/1
Neither of these teams made much of a splash in free agency, unless you consider today’s version of Metta World Peace a major piece, which few do. Seeing that neither team has any cap space available, there should be very limited roster activity in the immediate future. That said, both these teams have enough talent to make a deep run in the playoffs this upcoming season.
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