Lebron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers were crowned NBA world champions just five weeks ago. Furthermore, the 2016-2017 NBA campaign is still a tad over three months from its onset. However, with the 2016 draft completed, and no more significant free agent signings predicted, it’s a good time to evaluate what’s transpired this offseason.
By Ross Benjamin of RBWINS.COM
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Cleveland Cavaliers (+300): Since Cleveland didn’t add any notable free agents, some may question this choice. Nonetheless, the defending world champions have kept their roster virtually intact, and that in itself is worth mentioning. They did add a couple veterans in three-point shooting specialist Mike Dunlevy, and an inside presence off the bench with Chris (“Bird Man”) Anderson. Although, both of their better years are unquestionably behind them. Cleveland will unequivocally be the class of the Eastern Conference heading into next season, but I never would wager on a futures bet with single digit odds (3-1) at this early of a juncture.
Golden State Warriors (-175): After a record breaking regular season, and a second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals, Golden State’s quest for becoming world champions for the second year in a row was a failure of epic proportions. They became the first team in history to squander a 3-1 NBA Finals lead, preceding to fall short of their ultimate goal, and one which seemed all but certain prior to their outrageous collapse. On the bright side, the biggest 2016 free agent name available opted to sign with the Warriors when Kevin Durant was inked to a contract. The thought of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant teaming up this coming fall will create sleepless nights for opposing NBA coaches. Yet, you won’t ever catch me wagering on the odds on favorite pertaining to futures, and especially so before the season starts.
Boston Celtics (+3000): The Celtics came up short in their attempt to lure Kevin Durant to Boston. Nevertheless, this is clearly a team on the rise. I love what Boston did in the draft, taking Notre Dame point guard Demetrious Jackson, Iowa State forward Abdel Nader, and Providence power forward Ben Bentil. All three of these rookies appear to be NBA ready, and will add quality depth to an already talented young roster. They were also able to land free agent center Al Horford who averaged 15.2 PPG/7.3 RPG for Atlanta a season ago. The Celtics are still a year or two away from being a series world championship contender, but they’ll be entertaining to watch this upcoming season.
Oklahoma City Thunder (+7000): Needless to say, the shocking decision by Kevin Durant to sign elsewhere was a monumental blow. They also traded one of their stalwarts Serge Ibaka to Orlando for talented your guard Victor Oladipo. The former Indiana Hoosier Oladipo has shined in his first three NBA seasons, averaging a combined 15.9 points per game, and did so with a less than impressive supporting cast. Conversely, he’s not in the same class of Kevin Durant by any stretch of the imagination. One also must wonder if star point guard Russell Westbrook will also seek out greener pastures when his contract expires in 2017. At odds of 7-1, Oklahoma City is a grossly overvalued team with all things being considered.
San Antonio Spurs (+1200): The retirement of Tim Duncan will surely have an effect at least early on. Besides budding star Kawhi Leonard, this is an aging roster. 38 year-old Manu Ginobli just resigned for another year, recent free agent acquisition Pau Gasol, and point guard Tony Park are both entering their 15th seasons. Then there’s backup point guard Andre Miller entering his 17th NBA campaign. The 12:1 betting odds are more aligned with reputation than anything else.