2021 NBA Championship Odds & Predictions

  • After a 72-game regular season, the NBA Playoffs are down to their final two teams.
  • The reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers saw their title defence end in the first round of the NBA Playoffs!
  • The Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns compete for the 2021 NBA Championship!

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The NBA as an organization and its fans experienced one of their most unique seasons in history. Due to restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020-2021 schedule was shortened to 72 games, saw teams perform without home support, and even forced a franchise – the Toronto Raptors – out of their home and into a new market on a temporary basis.

While the Los Angeles Lakers were the reigning champions, they faltered late in the season and never looked like a true threat to the NBA title. We saw new stars rise and successful franchises fall through one of the most exciting seasons yet.

With the NBA Finals in full swing, we’re taking a look at who might pull off every team’s ultimate goal of winning the NBA Championship!

Who is the Favourite to Win the 2021 NBA Championship?

Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook, updated on July 20, 2021.

Team Conference Odds
Milwaukee Bucks East +165
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Phoenix Suns West -195
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We are finally down to the last two teams competing for the NBA Title. After a gruelling regular and post-season campaign, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns find themselves head-to-head for the Larry O’Brien Trophy!

For the Milwaukee Bucks, this Finals appearance is representative of the last seven years of building around Giannis Antetokounmpo. Not only are they stronger than they’ve ever been as a squad, but they’ve got the experience of many playoff campaigns to drive them.

On the other end of the court, the Phoenix Suns are looking to shock the world in their pursuit of their first NBA Championship. After missing the NBA Playoffs for the last ten years, they find themselves just four wins away from a title. The game-changer for Phoenix is Chris Paul, whose experience and ability has vaulted them to success.

WSN’s Pick:

Phoenix Suns to Win NBA Championship (-195)

The NBA Playoffs is one of the toughest campaigns in sports. While the Suns have been fortunate in certain matchups, their form and team composition seem to give them a unique edge against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Eastern Conference representatives won’t go down without a fight, especially with Giannis Antetokounmpo on the court – who is not at 100%. However, with Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Ayton playing their best basketball, the Suns look primed to win their first-ever NBA Championship!

The 2021 NBA Finals

Our 2021 NBA Finals are set as we see the Milwaukee Bucks face off against the Phoenix Suns! The Bucks finally find their way to the NBA Finals after falling short for a number of years, despite the success of two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo. Chris Paul has helped the Phoenix Suns beat the odds and find their way to the Finals for the first time since 1993!

Milwaukee Bucks (-114)

Key Players: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday

Head Coach: Mike Budenholzer

Notable Additions: Jrue Holiday, Bobby Portis

As has been the case for at least the past five years, the Milwaukee Bucks have been tremendous. While they weren’t the top seed in the Eastern Conference this year, they still found success through their continuity and star power.

Giannis Antetokounmpo may be their number one player, but the consistent play of Khris Middleton and the addition of Jrue Holiday has pushed them to another level. After sweeping the Heat in the first round of the 2021 Playoffs, the Bucks found themselves on the winning end against the star studded Brooklyn Nets and the rising Atlanta Hawks.

The Bucks face the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals and you’d have to believe the outcome would be pivotal to the franchise’s future. Will they finally break through and win their first NBA Title since 1971? Or will they crumble under the pressure once again? It won’t be easy for them, but Milwaukee’s talent and experience give them a unique advantage.

Phoenix Suns (+160)

Key Players: Chris Paul, Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton

Head Coach: Monty Williams

Notable Additions: Chris Paul, Jae Crowder, Torrey Craig

If you want to talk about unexpected success, you don’t have to look any further than the Phoenix Suns. After not making the NBA Playoffs since 2011, they attained the second best record in the NBA and a trip to the NBA Finals in 2021.

Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton were clearly talented young pieces for the Suns to build on, however through the acquisition of Chris Paul the Suns were vaulted into a new level of quality. Phoenix have been comfortable through the 2021 NBA Playoffs, defeating powerhouse teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, and the LA Clippers en route to their Finals appearance.

The Suns’ fantastic run of form is a big reason why they have an excellent chance to win their first NBA Championship. Don’t look further than Chris Paul for a game-changing force against the consistent Milwaukee Bucks.

Who Were the 2020 NBA Champions?


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

Here is a list of historical 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

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?

The @Lakers receive the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy for the 17th time in franchise history! #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/na6YKCeOv6

— NBA (@NBA) October 12, 2020

The Larry O’Brien Trophy is the ultimate reward for the years 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?


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,

2008

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,

 

2017, 2018

Chicago Bulls 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996,

 

1997, 1998

5 San Antonio Spurs 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014
3 Philadelphia 76ers

 

(Also as Syracuse Nationals)

1955, 1967, 1983
Detroit Pistons

 

(Also as Fort Wayne Pistons)

1989, 1990, 2004
Miami Heat 2006, 2012, 2013
2 New York Knicks 1970, 1973
Houston Rockets 1994, 1995
1 Cleveland Cavaliers 2016
Atlanta Hawks

 

(As St. Louis Hawks)

1958
Washington Wizards

 

(As Washington Bullets)

1978
Oklahoma City Thunder

 

(As Seattle SuperSonics)

1979
Portland Trail Blazers 1977
Milwaukee Bucks 1971
Dallas Mavericks 2011
Baltimore Bullets 1948
Sacramento Kings 1951
Toronto Raptors 2019

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.

  1. Indiana Pacers (est. 1976)
  2. Charlotte Hornets (est. 1988 as Hornets, 2004 as Bobcats, 2014 as Hornets)
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder (est. 2008)
  4. Brooklyn Nets (est. 2012)
  5. Memphis Grizzlies (est. 2001)
  6. Utah Jazz (est. 1979)
  7. Phoenix Suns (est. 1968)
  8. New Orleans Pelicans (est. 2002 as NO Hornets, 2013 as Pelicans)
  9. LA Clippers (est. 1984)
  10. Denver Nuggets (est. 1976)
  11. Orlando Magic (est. 1989)
  12. Minnesota Timberwolves (est. 1989)

Which NBA Franchise Was Quickest to an NBA Championship?


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

Expert on NBA

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.

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