2021 NBA Championship Odds & Predictions
- The NBA is coming back this holiday season, kicking off on December 22nd, 2020!
- After winning the 2020 NBA Championship, the Lakers are the favourites to repeat as title winners.
- This 2020-2021 season will be shortened to 72-games.
Bet on NBA Championship, Here!
After a large hiatus from basketball in the middle of last season, it is almost as if we’re getting an early Christmas present when the NBA returns for its 75th season on December 22nd. As the league and its teams look to return to some level of normalcy, we take a look at who is the favorite to win this year’s NBA Championship.
Almost two months ago the Los Angeles Lakers took home the franchise’s 17th NBA Championship after defeating the Miami Heat 4-2 in the NBA Finals. LeBron James won his fourth NBA Finals MVP award, to go along with four NBA titles to his name.
After an eventful offseason full of moves, trades, and changes, this NBA season looks to be one of the most exciting yet. With the 2021 campaign shortened to 72-games, this season looks to be one of the league’s most competitive yet!
Who is the Favourite to Win the 2021 NBA Championship?
Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook, updated on April 12, 2021.
|Los Angeles Lakers||+350|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+600|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+4500|
|Golden State Warriors||+15000|
|San Antonio Spurs||+15000|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+15000|
|New York Knicks||+20000|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+90000|
Odds from DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or check out more offers and promo codes for the best online sportsbooks.
Naturally, the top team in the running for the 2021 NBA Championship is the reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers. Not just sitting on their hands through this shortened offseason, the Lakers seemed to grow even stronger with the addition of some key pieces from last year’s rivals.
The LA Clippers are the only other team that sportsbooks see as a threat to the Lakers’ reign in the Western Conference. While the Clippers disappointed in the 2020 NBA Playoffs, their star pair of George and Leonard is difficult to deny.
The Eastern Conference owns three of the sportsbooks’ top five competitors for the NBA title. The Milwaukee Bucks and reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo are tied for second-best odds with the Clippers. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets surprise with the fourth-best odds, owing to their own star power in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Curiously, the Boston Celtics crack the top five, but not last year’s runners-up the Miami Heat.
We are looking at these three teams as the absolute favorites to bring home the NBA Championship. While there are many that are likely to challenge them, key changes or improvements to their team, along with sustained success, make them the clear choices to at least make the Conference Finals.
Los Angeles Lakers (+350)
Key Players: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Dennis Schroder
Notable Losses: Danny Green, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo
Notable Additions: Dennis Schroder, Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell
The Los Angeles Lakers accomplished their goal last season by bringing the Larry O’Brien Trophy to the city of Los Angeles for the 17th time in their franchises history. After dominating the regular season (52-19) and winning the Western Conference, it took them no more than six games to eliminate any team standing in their way during the 2020 NBA Playoffs.
The Lakers look even stronger this season. After losing valuable but aging veterans Dwight Howard, Avery Bradley, and Rajon Rondo, the Lakers were able to add reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, former Defensive Player of the Year and 2019 NBA Champion Marc Gasol, as well as three-point sniper Wes Matthews.
With a shortened season and an even shorter offseason, don’t expect the Lakers to honestly give it their all during the regular season. LeBron James is dominant, but aging, knowing full well how much effort he can put in over the course of the regular season schedule. The Lakers are the favourites to take home the title, but don’t let a subpar regular season performance indicate much about their title chances.
Milwaukee Bucks (+750)
Key Players: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday
Notable Losses: Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, Wes Matthews
Notable Additions: Jrue Holiday, Torrey Craig, Bobby Portis
The Milwaukee Bucks are not in the mood to mess around this season. With Giannis Antetokounmpo’s contract expiring upon the end of the campaign, the Bucks have one last chance to convince him to spend his long-term future in Wisconsin. After floundering out of the 2020 NBA Playoffs in the second round, the Bucks have overhauled their roster to better support The Greek Freak.
Gone is serial playoff disappointment Eric Bledsoe and in comes Jrue Holiday, one of the league’s most underrated and steady point guards. General Manager Jon Horst has also surrounded Antetokounmpo with two-way players in Torrey Craig, Bryn Forbes, and Bobby Portis.
The issue for Milwaukee will be seeing if they can mesh as a team through this shortened offseason. Bledsoe and Hill were mainstays during the Bucks’ best playoff runs, so relying on new guards Holiday and Augustin will be an effort in faith.
LA Clippers (+600)
Key Players: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Serge Ibaka
Notable Losses: Montrezl Harrell, JaMychal Green, Doc Rivers
Notable Additions: Serge Ibaka, Luke Kennard, Nicolas Batum
All things considered, the LA Clippers failed last season. After what was meant to be the season that launches the Clippers franchise in basketball relevance, the team squandered their opportunity and bowed out in the second round of the NBA Playoffs.
General Manager Michael Winger and Owner Steve Ballmer saw that a change was needed and released long-time head coach Doc Rivers, in favour of assistant Tyronn Lue. Despite losing reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, the Clippers acquired two-way force and 2019 NBA Champion Serge Ibaka.
The Clippers haven’t overhauled their roster, likely giving recognition to the fact that they merely failed to perform in last year’s playoffs – rather than thinking they don’t have enough to succeed. A shortened season could benefit a team like the Clippers, who thrive on “load management”. One thing is certain, at the top of their game the Clippers are among the best in the NBA.
Do not sleep on these teams. They’ve got all the quality to be NBA Champions but merely hit some bumps in the road along the way. At the top of their game, they can certainly challenge for the title.
Miami Heat (+2800)
Key Players: Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic
Notable Losses: Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr.
Notable Additions: Avery Bradley, Maurice Harkless
The Miami Heat shocked the world last season as their grit and toughness led them to the NBA Finals for the first time in their franchise history since 2014. Considered a team of role players and outcasts, head coach Erik Spoelstra deserves credit for creating a title-worthy team.
For Pat Riley and the Heat this season, the offseason was about retaining the assets that helped their success. Rather than making any significant changes. The Heat were able to sign Bam Adebayo to an extension, while also finding an agreeable contract with veteran Goran Dragic.
This year will be about the Heat proving that last season was no fluke. Their grind-it-out style may not resonate with many fans, but its productivity, especially in the playoffs, makes them a threat to any opponent. Should Jimmy Butler maintain his All-Star worthy play, it could be another long season for the Heat.
Boston Celtics (+4400)
Key Players: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart
Notable Losses: Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Brad Wanamaker
Notable Additions: Tristan Thompson, Jeff Teague
The Boston Celtics’ young core impressed in last year’s NBA Playoffs, knocking out the then reigning champion Toronto Raptors in seven games. They, unfortunately, fell short in the Eastern Conference Finals, being outplayed by eventual NBA Finalists the Miami Heat.
There is a lot to be excited about in Boston and it revolves around the exponential growth of forwarding Jayson Tatum. Tatum showed his impressive form last season and he looks to be on the trajectory toward NBA stardom. In losing Gordon Hayward, the Celtics have opened up even greater responsibility for Tatum, who will be looked toward to lead the Celtics to a championship.
The Celtics merely retooled this offseason, rather than making any big moves. They added veteran experience in the backcourt with Jeff Teague and more depth to their already crowded frontcourt with Tristan Thompson. Despite the Celtics’ sustained success over the years, they’ve never been able to get over the final hurdle.
Toronto Raptors (+8000)
Key Players: Pascal Siakam, Fred Vanvleet, Kyle Lowry
Notable Losses: Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Notable Additions: Aron Baynes, Alex Len, Malachi Flynn
The 2019 NBA Champions will be remembered for bowing out of the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs, but that shouldn’t discount how impressive their title-defending campaign was. The Raptors pushed the Celtics to seven games, despite playing some of their worst basketball of the season. They enter this year with huge losses, but an even greater opportunity for their young stars.
Pascal Siakam and Fred Vanvleet are in the long-term plans of the Raptors after the latter signed an extension this offseason. While Lowry’s contract expires at the end of the year, it is clear that GM Bobby Webster and President Masai Ujiri are aiming to put on an excellent display this season in hopes of luring a certain Greek NBA superstar North of the border.
Toronto has proven that their team-first approach can win an NBA title and even rank them among the best in the league through the regular season. After losing both centers to the Los Angeles franchises, they’ll look to bruising internationals Aron Baynes and Alex Len to fill the void. Still a young team, the Raptors’ combination of experience and growth could sneak up on many this year.
Could Go Either Way
Brooklyn Nets (+220)
Key Players: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie
Notable Losses: Garrett Temple, Dzanan Musa
Notable Additions: Landry Shamet, Jeff Green, Bruce Brown
If you saw a team headlined by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, you’d have to automatically put them in the running for the NBA Championship, right? The issue with the Nets is that they are a wholly unknown quantity, as their two star players barely appeared for the team last season.
Durant will be returning after an entire season off while Irving missed all but 20 games during the 2019-2020 campaign. Questions are abound as to whether injury-prone pair can lead a franchise so quickly after their recovery. While the squad made the playoffs last year through the efforts of Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert, they were quickly swept by the Toronto Raptors.
If all things fall into place, the Nets have a balanced squad of players that could challenge even the best in the NBA. While they are lacking in on-court experience as a unit, their star power alone is enough to push them into title contention.
Denver Nuggets (+1600)
Key Players: Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter
Notable Losses: Jerami Grant, Torrey Craig, Noah Vonleh
Notable Additions: JaMychal Green, Facundo Campazzo, Bol Bol
The Denver Nuggets were absolutely brilliant in their 2019-2020 NBA Playoff run. They could easily be considered the most entertaining team of last year’s playoffs, despite falling short of their ultimate goal in the end.
The growth of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic into two of the league’s best players at their position is what draws eyes to the Nuggets as contenders. After eliminating the Clippers in seven games, the Nuggets announced their arrival amongst the best in the league.
After losing Jerami Grant, head coach Michael Malone will be looking to his young stars to emerge as leaders for what is still a rather young roster. Without the commercial star power of some teams, the Nuggets’ internal development will be crucial to their success.
Philadelphia 76ers (+1100)
Key Players: Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris
Notable Losses: Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Zhaire Smith
Notable Additions: Danny Green, Seth Curry, Dwight Howard
If you had to name the most disappointing team of the 2019-2020 NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers would likely be at the top of the list. If you had to name the most exciting looking team of the 2020-2021 season, it would likely be the Philadelphia 76ers.
The raw talent of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons is felt every time they step on the court, but the experiment of surrounding them with other top-level players didn’t pan out. Enter former Rockets Executive Daryl Morey and Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, and you have a team that has sneakily retooled into the face of a championship contender.
We don’t know how it is going to pan out for the Sixers, but all the right pieces seem to be in place. Should Doc Rivers be able to optimize the talent he has on the court, the Sixers could emerge as one of the East’s best once again.
Who Were the 2020 NBA Champions?
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 12, 2020
The 2019-2020 NBA Champions were the Los Angeles Lakers. After dominating the regular season, the Lakers were able to spend no more than six games with any opponent en route to their 17th NBA title.
LeBron James won his fourth NBA Championship and fourth NBA Finals MVP Award with the Lakers.
Their route to the Championship was no easy task:
|Opponent||Conference||Seed (Record)||Series Record||Team PPG||Opp PPG||LAL PPG Leader||LAL REB Leader||LAL AST Leader|
|Portland Trail Blazers||West||#8 (35-39)||4-1||117.2||106.6||Anthony Davis (29.8)||LeBron James (10.2)||LeBron James (10.2)|
|Houston Rockets||West||#4 (44-28)||4-1||111.0||103.8||LeBron James (25.8)||Anthony Davis (12.4)||LeBron James (7.4)|
|Denver Nuggets||West||#3 (46-27)||4-1||113.6||109.2||Anthony Davis (31.2)||LeBron James (10.4)||LeBron James (9.0)|
|Miami Heat||East||#5 (44-29)||4-2||110.0||104.5||LeBron James (29.8)||LeBron James (11.8)||LeBron James (8.5)|
NBA Champions by Year
|Year||Western Conference Champion||Series Result||Eastern Conference Champion|
|2020||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Miami Heat|
|2019||Golden State Warriors||2-4||Toronto Raptors|
|2018||Golden State Warriors||4-0||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2017||Golden State Warriors||4-1||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2016||Golden State Warriors||3-4||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2015||Golden State Warriors||4-2||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2014||San Antonio Spurs||4-1||Miami Heat|
|2013||San Antonio Spurs||3-4||Miami Heat|
|2012||Oklahoma City Thunder||1-4||Miami Heat|
|2011||Dallas Mavericks||4-2||Miami Heat|
|2010||Los Angeles Lakers||4-3||Boston Celtics|
|2009||Los Angeles Lakers||4-1||Orlando Magic|
|2008||Los Angeles Lakers||2-4||Boston Celtics|
|2007||San Antonio Spurs||4-0||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2006||Dallas Mavericks||2-4||Miami Heat|
|2005||San Antonio Spurs||4-3||Detroit Pistons|
|2004||Los Angeles Lakers||1-4||Detroit Pistons|
|2003||San Antonio Spurs||4-2||New Jersey Nets|
|2002||Los Angeles Lakers||4-0||New Jersey Nets|
|2001||Los Angeles Lakers||4-1||Philadelphia 76ers|
|2000||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Indiana Pacers|
|1999||San Antonio Spurs||4-1||New York Knicks|
|1998||Utah Jazz||2-4||Chicago Bulls|
|1997||Utah Jazz||2-4||Chicago Bulls|
|1996||Seattle SuperSonics||2-4||Chicago Bulls|
|1995||Houston Rockets||4-0||Orlando Magic|
|1994||Houston Rockets||4-3||New York Knicks|
|1993||Phoenix Suns||2-4||Chicago Bulls|
|1992||Portland Trail Blazers||2-4||Chicago Bulls|
|1991||Los Angeles Lakers||1-4||Chicago Bulls|
|1990||Portland Trail Blazers||1-4||Detroit Pistons|
|1989||Los Angeles Lakers||0-4||Detroit Pistons|
|1988||Los Angeles Lakers||4-3||Detroit Pistons|
|1987||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Boston Celtics|
|1986||Houston Rockets||2-4||Boston Celtics|
|1985||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Boston Celtics|
|1984||Los Angeles Lakers||3-4||Boston Celtics|
|1983||Los Angeles Lakers||0-4||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1982||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1981||Houston Rockets||0-4||Boston Celtics|
|1980||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1979||Seattle Supersonics||4-1||Washington Bullets|
|1978||Seattle Supersonics||3-4||Washington Bullets|
|1977||Portland Trail Blazers||4-2||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1976||Phoenix Suns||2-4||Boston Celtics|
|1975||Golden State Warriors||4-0||Washington Bullets|
|1974||Milwaukee Bucks||3-4||Boston Celtics|
|1973||Los Angeles Lakers||1-4||New York Knicks|
|1972||Los Angeles Lakers||4-1||New York Knicks|
|1971||Milwaukee Bucks||4-0||Baltimore Bullets|
|1970||Los Angeles Lakers||3-4||New York Knicks|
|1969||Los Angeles Lakers||3-4||Boston Celtics|
|1968||Los Angeles Lakers||2-4||Boston Celtics|
|1967||San Francisco Warriors||2-4||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1966||Los Angeles Lakers||3-4||Boston Celtics|
|1965||Los Angeles Lakers||1-4||Boston Celtics|
|1964||San Francisco Warriors||1-4||Boston Celtics|
|1963||Los Angeles Lakers||2-4||Boston Celtics|
|1962||Los Angeles Lakers||3-4||Boston Celtics|
|1961||St. Louis Hawks||3-4||Boston Celtics|
|1960||St. Louis Hawks||3-4||Boston Celtics|
|1959||Minneapolis Lakers||0-4||Boston Celtics|
|1958||St. Louis Hawks||4-2||Boston Celtics|
|1957||St. Louis Hawks||3-4||Boston Celtics|
|1956||Fort Wayne Pistons||1-4||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1955||Fort Wayne Pistons||3-4||Syracuse Nationals|
|1954||Minneapolis Lakers||4-3||Syracuse Nationals|
|1953||Minneapolis Lakers||4-1||New York Knicks|
|1952||Minneapolis Lakers||4-3||New York Knicks|
|1951||Rochester Royals||4-3||New York Knicks|
|1950||Minneapolis Lakers||4-2||Syracuse Nationals|
|1949||Minneapolis Lakers||4-2||Washington Capitols|
|1948||Baltimore Bullets||4-2||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1947||Chicago Stags||1-4||Philadelphia Warriors|
Bet on NBA Championship, Here!
Do the NBA Champions Receive a Prize?
The NBA Champions receive the Larry O’Brien Trophy upon closing out their opponents in the NBA Finals. The Larry O’Brien Trophy was only awarded beginning in 1984. Before that, teams received the Walter A. Brown Trophy. The Walter A. Brown Trophy now resides in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
In terms of prize money, the NBA Champions don’t receive anything of the sort. Due to the fact that teams participating in the NBA Playoffs are entitled to additional television revenues, players receive a bonus for each game they participate in. In 2018, the amount was reported to be in the realm of $20 million. The winner of the prize pool had approximately $3 million to split between their players.
Exposure is also a huge reward for the NBA Champions during their following season. Massive amounts of signage, imagery, and player likeness from the championship side are used for the subsequent season. Champions can also expect an increase in nationally televised games. For example, the 2019 Champion Toronto Raptors received 11 nationally broadcasted games in 2019-2020, compared to an average of just three per season in their previous ten seasons.
What Is the Larry O’Brien Trophy?
— NBA (@NBA) October 12, 2020
The Larry O’Brien Trophy is the ultimate reward for the year’s NBA Championship team. Introduced in 1984, the Larry O’Brien Trophy replaced the more cup-like Walter A. Brown Trophy. Unlike the Walter A. Brown Trophy, each team gets to keep one version of the Larry O’Brien Trophy for themselves.
The Larry O’Brien Trophy is made of seven kilograms of sterling silver and vermeil, with a 24 karat gold overlay as defined by Tiffany & Co. The design imitates a basketball entering the net. The team name and year of their victory is engraved on the base of the trophy, usually displayed prominently in the team’s home arena.
Players, coaches, and staff are usually able to organize times during the offseason in which they can acquire the Larry O’Brien Trophy for temporary, personal use.
What Are NBA Championship Rings?
Take a look at every NBA championship ring from the past 30 years, including the Toronto Raptors’ 2019 title rings: pic.twitter.com/wTO736PCAA
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) October 24, 2019
Due to the fact that NBA players on the championship side don’t get to keep a version of the Larry O’Brien Trophy for themselves, Championship Rings have been common for teams to commission for its players.
Modest during the outset of the NBA, Championship rings have grown more beautiful and lavish as the years have gone on.
Baron Championship Rings crafted the 2019 NBA Champion Toronto Raptors’ ring. It has 640 diamonds, the most diamond total carat weight, and the largest single diamond of all championship rings in major sports.
Who Were the First NBA Champions?
The inaugural winners of the NBA Championship were the 1946-1947 Philadelphia Warriors. Technically speaking, at the time of their victory the league was known as the BAA or the Basketball Association of America. If you consider 1948 as the true debut season of the NBA, the eventual NBA Champions were still the Philadelphia Warriors.
Which Franchise Has the Most NBA Championships?
|NBA Championships||Team||Year(s) Won|
|17||Boston Celtics||1957, 1959, 1960, 1961,|
1962, 1963, 1964, 1965,
1966, 1968, 1969, 1974,
1976, 1981, 1984, 1986,
|16||Los Angeles Lakers|
(Also as Minneapolis Lakers)
|1949, 1950, 1952, 1953,|
1954, 1972, 1980, 1982,
1985, 1987, 1988, 2000,
2001, 2002, 2009, 2010
|6||Golden State Warriors|
(Also as Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors)
|1947, 1956, 1975, 2015,|
|Chicago Bulls||1991, 1992, 1993, 1996,|
|5||San Antonio Spurs||1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014|
(Also as Syracuse Nationals)
|1955, 1967, 1983|
(Also as Fort Wayne Pistons)
|1989, 1990, 2004|
|Miami Heat||2006, 2012, 2013|
|2||New York Knicks||1970, 1973|
|Houston Rockets||1994, 1995|
(As St. Louis Hawks)
(As Washington Bullets)
|Oklahoma City Thunder|
(As Seattle SuperSonics)
|Portland Trail Blazers||1977|
Which Franchise Hasn’t Won an NBA Championship?
There are a number of NBA franchises that are yet to win a title. Whether they’ve been terribly close or never within striking distance, these teams are still looking to add the Larry O’Brien trophy to their cabinet.
- Indiana Pacers (est. 1976)
- Charlotte Hornets (est. 1988 as Hornets, 2004 as Bobcats, 2014 as Hornets)
- Oklahoma City Thunder (est. 2008)
- Brooklyn Nets (est. 2012)
- Memphis Grizzlies (est. 2001)
- Utah Jazz (est. 1979)
- Phoenix Suns (est. 1968)
- New Orleans Pelicans (est. 2002 as NO Hornets, 2013 as Pelicans)
- LA Clippers (est. 1984)
- Denver Nuggets (est. 1976)
- Orlando Magic (est. 1989)
- Minnesota Timberwolves (est. 1989)
Which NBA Franchise Was Quickest to an NBA Championship?
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) October 18, 2016
Founded in 1968-1969, the Milwaukee Bucks won their first NBA Championship during the 1970-1971 NBA season. Outside of the Philadelphia Warriors, who won the inaugural BAA Finals, the Milwaukee Bucks were the fastest expansion team to the title. But how did they do it?
After the drafting of Lew Alcindor, later known as NBA Legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in 1969 and acquiring Oscar Robertson in a trade, the Milwaukee Bucks found their way to an NBA Championship by sweeping the Baltimore Bullets in the 1971 NBA Finals.
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
Email: [email protected]