The Cleveland Cavaliers were bounced by the Golden State Warriors in six games in the NBA Finals, but book makers believe LeBron James and Co. can not only make the championship round again but win it all.
According to the latest futures from Sportsbook.ag, James and the Cavs are 13/5 odds-on favorites to win the 2016 NBA title, compared to the 6/1 chances the Warriors hold in their attempt to repeat.
After this year’s pair of finalists, the Oklahoma City Thunder are expected to return to the postseason and to contention at 15/2, with the Los Angeles Clippers next up at 12/1, and the perennial threat San Antonio Spurs at 14/1. Besides the Cavs, the Chicago Bulls at 16/1 are currently the only other serious contender in the Eastern Conference.
The biggest longshots in next year's field are the Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Charlotte Hornets, all listed at 300/1.
Based off James’ masterful performance in the finals without injured stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, its more than reasonable for odds makers to project the Cavs as next season’s favorite. James averaged 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists, and actually led both teams in all categories, while garnering four out of 11 votes for the series MVP in a losing effort.
James managed to keep the series close almost singlehandedly, with many of the games coming down to the fourth quarter. The Warriors depth eventually decided the series, but it’s fair to assume Cleveland could have denied Golden State the title or at least pushed the finals to seven games if Love and Irving were available.
A healthy Love and Irving once again makes Cleveland a juggernaut to be reckoned with in the East, but the Cavs odds could shift. Love can opt-out of his current contract and test free agency next month, leaving his future with the Cavs uncertain, and Irving must still recover and rehab from knee surgery.
The Warriors on the other hand are healthy, and have their stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson locked up, and the team is reportedly expected to match any offer forward Draymond Green receives in free agency.
The Thunder, who missed the postseason for the first time in six years despite the valiant and inspired efforts of point guard Russell Westbrook, get back All-Star and former MVP forward Kevin Durant after a foot injury limited him for most of the season. From 2011 to 2014, Oklahoma City reached the Western Conference finals three times and broke through to the finals in 2012, with Durant and Westbrook acting as one of the most lethal tandems in the league.
The Clippers nearly reached the West finals before the Houston Rockets eliminated them in seven games, but they too bring back the majority of their squad with All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin leading the way. Though some questions remain over center and free-agent-to-be DeAndre Jordan, and whether the club will re-sign him.
Odds to Win NBA Title In 2016
Cleveland Cavaliers 13/5
Golden State Warriors 6/1
Oklahoma City Thunder 15/2
Los Angeles Clippers 12/1
San Antonio Spurs 14/1
Chicago Bulls 16/1
Houston Rockets 25/1
Atlanta Hawks 30/1
New Orleans Pelicans 30/1
Dallas Mavericks 40/1
Indiana Pacers 40/1
Memphis Grizzlies 40/1
Miami Heat 40/1
Washington Wizards 40/1
Portland Trail Blazers 50/1
Toronto Raptors 50/1
Check out the full list here.