Tue, Jul 31, 1:36pm by Staff Writer
The 2018 NBA off-season is in full swing, with free agency producing a number of roster changes, and with that, new contenders in the upcoming season.
The Golden State Warriors, winners of three of the past four NBA Championships are $1.55 favourites to take out the top prize again next season.
The Warriors have only strengthened their roster in the off-season, acquiring former Kings and Pelicans centre DeMarcus Cousins on a one-year deal.
Cousins will be out for the remainder of the 2018 calendar year as he recovers from an Achilles injury, but his presence will aid the Warriors in their pick-and-roll defence which was a point of weakness for them last season.
The Warriors are $1.30 to take out the Western Conference at Sportsbet, ahead of the Houston Rockets at $6.
The Rockets came so close to an NBA Finals berth as they led the Warriors 3-2 in their best-of-seven conference finals series last season.
Houston were cruelled by an injury to Chris Paul in game five which halted their season.
The Rockets are expected to sign veteran Carmelo Anthony in the coming days, giving them another scoring weapon, after losing Trevor Ariza in free agency.
Houston are $9 to win the NBA Championship, behind the Warriors and the Boston Celtics.
Boston are the favourites to emerge from the Eastern Conference, priced at $1.91 to win the Eastern Conference finals.
The Celtics are $7.50 to add another Championship to their name and if their roster remains healthy, they will go close.
Boston are another team who suffered through an injury curse last season. New recruit Gordon Hayward was injured inside two minutes of his first game in a Celtics uniform and was ruled out for the season.
Kyrie Irving missed the playoffs with a knee issue and yet despite this, the Celtics pushed Cleveland to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals.
Boston has a young nucleus of players who will be richer for the experience of the playoffs and will be tough to beat in the East.
Philadelphia pose the biggest threat to the Celtics after their breakout 2017-18 season.
The 76ers are $17 to win the NBA title and $3.75 to win the East.
Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid will have another season together, with former number one draft pick Markelle Fultz also expected to be heavily involved.
The biggest off-season move came when LeBron James opted to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency.
That immediately catapulted the Lakers into title calculations, given that LeBron has featured in the last seven NBA Finals series.
The Lakers are $12 to win the NBA title, but their roster looks bare outside of a couple of young, inexperienced potential stars and LeBron.
Los Angeles had tried to recruit Kawhi Leonard to no avail, but any team with LeBron is destined to make playoffs, which gives the Lakers a chance.
In one of the most surprising moves of free agency, the reigning Eastern Conference champion Toronto Raptors traded All Star DeMar De Rozan to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard had become disinterested in playing in San Antonio and forced a trade. This move was strange from the Raptors considering Leonard wished to play in Los Angeles and is a free agent next season.
It does strengthen the Spurs and give them a young, athletic shooting guard, which they have lacked. They are $61 to win the title and given the success Gregg Popovich has had in the past, a deep run in the playoffs would not surprise.
NBA Championship 2018/2019 Odds – Sportsbet
Golden State Warriors $1.55
Boston Celtics $7.50
Houston Rockets $9
Los Angeles Lakers $12
Philadelphia 76ers $17
Toronto Raptors $21
Utah Jazz $41
OKC Thunder $41
Minnesota Timberwolves $61
San Antonio Spurs $61
Indiana Pacers $101
Washington Wizards $101
Miami Heat $101
Milwaukee Bucks $101
Denver Nuggets $101
Portland Trailblazers $101
New Orleans Pelicans $101
Los Angeles Clippers $176
Detroit Pistons $201
Dallas Mavericks $251
Memphis Grizzlies $276
Charlotte Hornets $326
New York Knicks $501
Chicago Bulls $501
Brooklyn Nets $501
Phoenix Suns $501
Cleveland Cavaliers $501
Atlanta Hawks $501
Sacramento Kings $501
Orlando Magic $501
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