NBA Championship Odds: Biggest Movers

As we enter the new here's a look at where the NBA championship contenders and sleepers stand on the oddsboard at BetMGM.

After the Golden State Warriors won their fourth title of the last decade six months ago, few NBA fans and observers were surprised to see Golden State open as the title favorite for the 2022-23 season.

But a lot has happened in the months since the new NBA odds market opened, which has left basketball fans with an in-season odds market that looks noticeably different than the start of the season.

Some teams are a year wiser and more experienced. Some added key pieces in the offseason via trade or free agency; some just needed to get healthy. The result is a handful of promising young contenders surging up the odds table.

Others, like the aforementioned Warriors, aren’t quite meeting the lofty expectations that were set in the offseason. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the betting market is ready to count out Golden State.

Power Shifts Eastward

The Eastern and Western conferences have traded the Larry O’Brien Trophy back and forth each of the last four seasons, with a new team winning each year. The current NBA championship odds market seems to believe that will happen again, with teams from the East holding a clear advantage at the top of the board.

Last year’s Eastern Conference champions, the Boston Celtics, are the current betting favorite at the BetMGM online sportsbook at +350. The Milwaukee Bucks (+500) and Brooklyn Nets (+800) trail them but lead all Western Conference teams.

Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets.

The Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns are both +900 to win the championship, leading all other Western Conference teams. Curiously, though, Phoenix is an outright favorite (+350) to win the West and advance to the NBA Finals. The Clippers are priced at +400 in that market.

Somewhat predictably, the most common position among all NBA championship bettors is the Warriors, who have appeared in six (and won four) of the last seven NBA Finals.

But the Warriors, who opened as a sensible favorite atop the market at +550 after winning last year’s Finals, have slipped from their pedestal atop the betting market. A combination of injuries, fatigue, roster turnover and team turmoil have sunk the Warriors into the Play-In range, at least for now. The Warriors’ early-season struggles have imperiled the public betting favorite long before the first playoff matchups are known.

Surging Newcomers

The Denver Nuggets (+1300) and Philadelphia 76ers (+1600) have been staple playoff contenders in recent years, so it’s unsurprising to see both teams near the top of the middle class of top NBA championship odds contenders. Denver, in particular, has been a popular betting choice, drawing 11.3% of the overall market handle.

That’s second only to Golden State, which accounts for 11.5% of the handle.

But perhaps the most interesting choices in this range are the up-and-comers with young, talented rosters.

For example, there’s Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies, who are available at +1300. Morant gets a lot of the headlines in Memphis – rightly so – but it’s actually the team defense that could be the clearest sign that the Grizzlies could have some staying power this postseason. Memphis ranks second in team defensive efficiency, allowing only 1.058 points per possession to opponents. Only the Cleveland Cavaliers are better.

Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images. Pictured: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Speaking of the Cavaliers, the addition of Donovan Mitchell to a young, balanced core drove Cleveland up the odds table. They opened the year with 100-to-1 title odds but are currently available at 20-to-1. The merging of a defense-oriented team and a killer offensive presence has historically yielded big results in the NBA postseason.

Sharp bettors like what they see in the Cavaliers, too. Cleveland championship tickets account for only 3% of all tickets but 5.1% of BetMGM’s market handle, meaning bigger bettors prefer what the Cavs have to offer.

The New Orleans Pelicans are another team bringing it all together in the up-and-coming range. With the health of superstar Zion Williamson still unclear last offseason, the Pels opened the championship market at +4000. With New Orleans now challenging for the No. 1 seed in the West, those odds have halved to +2000.

Only five teams currently rank among the top 11 in both offensive and defensive efficiency: New Orleans, New York, Cleveland, Boston and Brooklyn.

Given those teams’ current prices and playoff positions, Cleveland and New Orleans would seem to offer the best blend of return and realism.

Do They Have Another Run?

NBA fans have seen some unlikely runs to the conference championship series and NBA Finals over the last few seasons. Few analysts or bettors predicted deep finals runs for the Toronto Raptors (2019) and Miami Heat (2020) or deep playoff runs for Atlanta Hawks (2021) and Dallas Mavericks (2022), yet all three surged through the playoff bracket to unexpected success.

All four teams are currently priced adjacently, in a similar range. The Mavericks and Heat are +4000 to win the championship right now; the Raptors are +5000, and the Hawks are +6600.

For bettors who are looking for a little bit of repeat history but are unwilling to bet on an unlikely run all the way to the Larry O’Brien trophy, there’s always the conference championship odds market.

For instance, bettors can buy Miami to win the East at +2000. That might not be a bad bet since Heat Culture has advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals twice in three years.

Never Count Out LeBron James

Regardless of record, there’s always a betting appetite to back a L.A. Lakers championship. Right now, at BetMGM, the Lakers account for 5.9% of all NBA Championship tickets.

Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

That’s more than every team but the Warriors, Celtics, Nuggets, Bucks and Suns.

The Lakers (16-21) opened the season at +2200, which was good for the No. 12 spot in the table. Since then, they’ve slipped out of play-in position and seen a commensurate fall in the NBA betting market, dropping all the way to +10000.

That’s probably an accurate price for the team in 12th place in the West. For those that believe in a potential Lakers turnaround and late-season playoff push, though, it’s an incredibly lucrative price to buy in at.