News broke on Thursday evening that the NBA Players Association has agreed for the 2020-21 NBA season to begin on December 22nd, consisting of just 72 games. This news may be surprising as the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Championship just 24 days ago!
Many players, including LeBron James, have spoken out against the season starting so soon, but money is a powerful motivator, with the league needing the usual Christmas Day games to help boost revenue, in turn allowing the players to earn more.
While the news is still recent and there is plenty more to unfold in terms of trades, free agency and the draft, the 2020-21 NBA Championship odds are beginning to paint a picture of who will be competing late in the playoffs.
We have taken a look at the top favourites, how this starting date decision impacts them and a betting strategy if you want to be betting in the futures market.
The National Basketball Players Association has voted to tentatively approve NBA’s proposal for the 2020-21 campaign starting on Dec. 22 and playing 72-game season, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
NBA set to tip off Christmas week.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 6, 2020
Los Angeles Lakers (+350)
Coming off their recent Championship victory, the Lakers are current favourites to win the NBA Championship this coming season.
With the news of when the season will be starting and the length of the season, the Lakers are put at a disadvantage. By the time the season starts, they will have had just 10 weeks since the last game they played.
While LeBron James continues to defy Father Time, this short turnaround is something he has been vocally against and has even alluded to missing games or playing decreased minutes.
Having the least amount of rest compared to their closest rivals will put the Lakers at a disadvantage early in the season, and in the standings moving forward.
Los Angeles Clippers (+450)
Coming off a disappointing playoff exit in the second round, the Clippers have already begun making moves to better position themselves for the upcoming season.
Tyronn Lue has taken over as head coach and the team has already stated their need to upgrade at point guard to help Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
The Clippers come into the new season seemingly more desperate than the Lakers, and the shorter break works in their favour. This gives them less time to sit and dwell on their shortcomings, instead getting back on the court and making amends for the season just gone.
With the Lakers having a much shorter break and their increased hunger to succeed, look for the Clippers to get an early jump in the Western Conference standings and their odds get shorter.
Milwaukee Bucks (+550)
Milwaukee is in must-win mode following their shock defeat to eventual Eastern Conference Champions, the Miami Heat, and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s upcoming free agency in 2021.
The Bucks are just as, if not more, desperate to win than the Clippers after multiple years of falling short, especially last season. The next three weeks during the free agency and trade period could define this team’s success in the upcoming season.
There are already talks of potential moves to upgrade the roster around Giannis, including Chris Paul and Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Giannis is the ultimate competitor and has a point to prove that he can perform in the postseason, something he hasn’t been able to do as well in previous years, and win his first NBA Championship.
Much like the Clippers, Giannis and the Bucks would just want the season to start so they can put last season behind them and begin their journey to a hopeful title run.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) September 20, 2020
Summary and Futures Betting Strategy
Of the three top favourites, both the Clippers and the Bucks would be welcoming of the season starting earlier than expected, while the Lakers were wanting more of a break following their recent success.
If you wanted to place a futures bet on the 2020-21 NBA Championship, we would recommend backing the Clippers at +450 before the season starts. The new start date will allow them to explode out of the gates and get a jump on the Lakers with their odds expected to come in.
The Bucks are a tough one to predict as they are primed to make some big moves before the season starts which could impact their Championship odds. You would assume their moves would only improve their lineup, however they could take some time to adjust to the new pieces, and therefore you should wait to see how their moves, and first few games, pan out.
The Lakers wanted a much longer break than just 10 weeks between game 6 of the NBA Finals and their opening night game, and will seemingly start the season slow, especially if LeBron rests. If you think that the Lakers will win the NBA Championship next season, it is recommended to wait until the season begins, as their slow start should force their odds to get larger, allowing you to profit more when the time comes.
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**Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of PointsBet
Image by: Ramiro Pianarosa