2020 NBA Finals Betting Odds: Who Is Next Season’s Toronto Raptors?
This time last year, the Golden State Warriors had just won their second consecutive NBA title and the Toronto Raptors were roughly +5500 to +6500 longshots to win the 2019 NBA Finals. Fast forward a year, the Raptors are your new NBA champions, Kawhi Leonard is your NBA Finals MVP, and Drake is dropping two new Raptors-themed songs to celebrate the city’s first ever NBA Finals victory.
How the Raptors got to this point is no secret. Masai Ujiri, the general manager of the Toronto Raptors, traded long-time Raptor Demar DeRozan in a package for Kawhi Leonard, the transcendent talent who had grown disgruntled with the San Antonio Spurs.
The blockbuster deal was official on July 18th. Up to that point, the Raptors remained longshots to win the 2019 NBA Finals even though rumors were swirling that Toronto had a chance to land the superstar.
Once the trade was made, oddsmakers were quick to adjust. Odds for the Raptors winning their first NBA championship fell from +5500 to +2600. By the time the NBA season began, they were closer to +1500 or +2000 depending on the shop. After the Raptors claimed the No. 2 seed in the East, they were around +1000 at the start of the playoffs. The Raptors making the NBA Finals isn’t quite like the longshots sliding into the Stanley Cup Finals, but those who had the foresight to wager on the Raptors when they were +5500 set themselves up for a substantial payday.
The 2019 NBA Finals may be over, but the drama has just begun. The heat of summer is upon us, and so is the heat of the NBA offseason. Within the last week, there have already been major injuries affecting the 2020 NBA Finals’ futures market. With players like Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson and Tobias Harris entering free agency, and Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler potentially exploring the waters as well, there’s sure to be a lot of volatility in NBA futures pricing between now and October.
What are oddsmakers factoring in and what are they ignoring? Is there an opportunity to beat the oddsmakers to the punch and pick out next season’s Toronto Raptors? Here is an early breakdown of some of the odds for next season:
Los Angeles Lakers +850 (FanDuel)
For one, no team with LeBron James is going to be a long shot to win the NBA Finals. Not even a team that finished with a 37-45 record just a couple of months ago. But it does look like oddsmakers are protecting themselves against a potential superstar joining James to suit up in purple and gold next season.
Kyrie Irving said he’d re-sign with Boston last year, but that experiment didn’t go as planned. There’s speculation that Irving and James might link up again. The duo already took down the Golden State Warriors in 2016. If they paired up a second time they would likely be the favorites heading into the 2019-20 season. In fact, DraftKings Sportsbook has some Free Agency Specials. One of those is the Lakers +450 to win the NBA Championship if Kyrie Irving starts the 2019 season with the Lakers.
Another possibility is a trade for Anthony Davis. James has long been suspected of courting Davis to L.A., so much so that the NBA issued a tampering warning to the Lakers in December. Davis isn’t a free agent until 2020 but the former Kentucky Wildcat has made it clear he no longer wants to play in New Orleans.
Frustrated by James’ antics, Pelicans owner Gayle Benson said, “To the Lakers, over my dead body,” in response to a possible trade between the two teams. However, Benson’s grudge appears to have simmered down, as it was reported the Pelicans are considering a trade with the Lakers.
With Kevin Durant and now Klay Thompson likely missing next season, there’s no better time to sell the farm for Davis than right now. The Lakers would become favorites overnight, even more so than with Irving. Adding Kemba Walker in the mix would be the icing on the cake.
Boston Celtics +2000 (DraftKings)
Speaking of Anthony Davis, the Boston Celtics are reportedly the other favorites to land the big man.
Pelicans GM David Griffin’s demands are high: a combination of assets that include an All-Star player, a young player with All-Star potential and two first-round picks, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Wojnarowski did note that those wants are on a “sliding scale” depending on the players. “The better the player, the softer the requests on the draft picks– and vice versa.”
The Celtics have enough young players and assets to enter the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, but it would likely require trading Jayson Tatum in the process. Still, Irving’s impending free agency looms over Boston’s front office. Trading the assets necessary for Davis may not be worth it if Irving doesn’t return. Worst case, Davis ends up as a one-year rental and finds a new home on the West Coast next summer.
But if Boston can successfully re-sign Irving and trade for Davis, you won’t see +2000 on the board for long.
Denver Nuggets +2000 (PointsBet)
The Denver Nuggets earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs before losing to the Portland Trail Blazers in the second round. Sound familiar? The Raptors won 59 games in the 2017-18 before losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round. They don’t have a pick in the 2019 draft, but they should improve from last year for the sheer fact that their team is so young.
Like the Lakers, the Nuggets are in prime position to capitalize on the injuries that occurred in the NBA Finals. And like the Celtics, they too have plenty of young players to package for a trade. The question is, are the Nuggets willing to push all their chips in for Davis or another superstar while the Warriors are wounded?
A trade for Davis seems unlikely, especially with the Celtics and Lakers in the mix. Unlike the Raptors last summer, the Nuggets aren’t +5500, so the slim chance of a trade happening doesn’t justify backing Denver at this price if it’s a trade that you’re banking on.
Los Angeles Clippers +1600 (FanDuel)
Albeit the eighth seed in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Clippers exceeded expectations. They traded their best player Tobias Harris to the Sixers right before the trade deadline, yet still managed to make the playoffs and win two games in the first round when Warriors were at full strength. The Clippers hope to improve on their 2018-19 season with a big offseason and their eyes set on the most recent NBA Finals MVP.
Kawhi Leonard is from Riverside, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. It’s not far from where Leonard, a junior in high school at the time, lost his father to gun violence. Leonard left L.A. but didn’t stray far, playing college basketball at San Diego State University. Leonard reportedly has no interest in returning home to play with the Lakers and James. It’s the Clippers who are the biggest threat to take Leonard from Toronto, a little over a decade after his father’s death.
Caesars Sportsbook already considers L.A. home for Kawhi, posting Clippers +600, ahead of the Toronto Raptors +1000 to win the 2020 NBA Finals, according to ESPN’s David Purdum.
While PointsBet has similar prices set on the two teams, +700 and +900 respectively, not all New Jersey online sportsbooks have declared a pre-emptive strike on the Clippers and Leonard.
FanDuel currently lists the Clippers +1600 and the Raptors +600. Similar to DraftKing’s Kyrie Irving/Lakers Free Agency Special, you can bet on the Clippers +800 to Win the 2020 NBA Championship and the bet only has action if Leonard starts the 2019-20 season on the Clippers.
Additionally, the Clippers are interested in acquiring Anthony Davis, but a Clippers trade proposal is unlikely to have as big of a stack behind it as other teams’.
New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers
Other offseason enigmas include the New York Knicks +3000 (PointsBet), Brooklyn Nets +2500 (DraftKings) and the Philadelphia 76ers +1100 (FanDuel). Both Durant’s and Thompson’s injuries have altered the course of the offseason for teams.
Durant’s ruptured Achilles significantly reduces the chances of Irving ending up with the Knicks. Some people think the Nets are the favorite to land Irving, and who knows what happens with Thompson. Jimmy Butler’s and Tobias Harris’ futures in Philly are still undecided, but Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles times reported Butler would sign a max-deal with the Lakers ‘in a second’ if offered.
With Golden State no longer short-money favorites like in recent seasons, you won’t find a gem quite like those who grabbed the Raptors +5500 last summer. But with so many questions still unanswered, the futures market will continue to be volatile as the offseason progresses. For that reason, there are still plenty of opportunities to throw the first punch at the sportsbooks.