2018 NBA Title Darkhorses3 min read
We’ve hit the dullest sports stretch of the year, so why not throw a little betting into the mix? Paul George was shipped out to OKC, and Chris Paul is now paired with James Harden in Houston, but it’s a fairly safe bet that the Warriors and Cavaliers are still the front runners next year to bring home the Finals hardware. SBD has Warriors at 2/3 to win, and Cavaliers at 3/1 (here is a list of safe betting sites if you want to see some more odds on the favorites), but there are a couple dark horses that could make some noise come next June…
This call rests solely on the back of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was called a “guaranteed MVP” by a former MVP himself in Kevin Durant. Giannis is an athletic specimen, and made enormous leaps in production last season, much more substantial than even the most optmistic Bucks fans expected. If the Greek Freak can make strides in his jump shooting ability this season, combined with the return of Jabari Parker and improvement from ROY Malcolm Brogdon, the Bucks will be a force to be reckoned with in the weakened Eastern Conference.
These Raptors have become the CP3-Blake-DeAndre Clippers of the East, as they’ve brought the band back together with the re-signing of Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka to huge, but relatively short term deals. This pick is a vote of confidence for that team continuity, and I certainly hope a calendar year’s worth of games together will help this team mesh, because LeBron bulldozed them this past season on the way to the Finals. They still boast one of the top backcourts in the league, and Ibaka is a perfect for floor spacing that both Lowry & DeRozan need to be successful on offense. They have already made a move by salary dumping Carroll’s bloated salary, and expect Masai Ujiri to continue wheelin’ & dealin’ as the rumor mill is saying he wants to ship Valanciunas out of the 6. This is a roster built to compete in the East, and expect them to possibly add a piece by the trade deadline.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Sam Presti was the golden boy of the summer as he shockingly acquired Paul George from the Indiana Pacers, while only unloading Victor Olapido (and his enormous contract), and Sabonis, who did not look promising during his rookie campaign. He also managed to bring in Patrick Patterson at far under market value; a move almost impossible for small market teams. Westbrook & George form an absolutely lethal scoring combo, and George’s 3pt shooting ability was much needed on a roster with limited range. This team is still going to bully people on the boards, and at the same time George’s pairing with Roberson at the wing will help them improve defensively, while also giving the Thunder another primary ballhandler to handle duties while Westbrook takes a rare moment to rest. The 2nd seed in the West is up for grabs, and this Thunder squad may seize the opportunity and grab it. Expect BIG things out of OKC this year.