Odds to Win NBA Finals 2012
The Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history this past season after beating the Miami Heat in six games to capture the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The Heat were favorites to win the championship heading into the season, but fell just a few games short. Dallas was the team that made all the plays in the fourth quarter, while Lebron James and company appeared to fold under the pressure. In fact, NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki scored 62 points in the fourth quarter of that series while James only managed 18 points in the final period over six games.
Now that the 2010-11 season is in the books, it’s time to look ahead to the 2011-12 campaign. The NBA championship odds are now posted and I’m going to list every team as well as a recap of their previous season. These odds are sure to change after the NBA draft, free agent signings, and the possible trades this offseason. If you have the inside scoop on which free agents are going to go where, then you will certainly be able to look around and find value on some of these teams. Once again, the Heat are favored to win it all and big favorites at that.
2011-12 Odds to Win NBA Finals
Miami Heat (+200) – The Heat won the Southeast Division with a 58-24 record and were seeded #2 in the NBA Playoffs. It took some time for this team to get going, but once they did they appeared unstoppable. Miami beat the 76ers, Celtics and Bulls all 4-1 in the playoffs before falling to the Mavs 4-2. Look for management to add the necessary pieces it will take to get the Heat over the top in 2011-12.
Chicago Bulls (+600) – The Bulls won the Central Division with a 62-20 mark and finished with the best record in the entire league, earning Tom Thibodeau Coach of the Year honors and Derrick Rose the MVP award. They earned the #1 seed in the East and beat the Pacers and Hawks in the playoffs before losing to the Heat in five games. This team is only a piece or two away from dethroning Miami because they play as well as anyone in the league defensively.
Oklahoma City Thunder (+700) – The Thunder won the Northwest Division with a 55-27 record and went into the playoffs as the #4 seed in the West. They would get by the Nuggets and Grizzlies before getting tripped up by the eventual champion Mavericks in the conference finals. This young team is poised to be a title contender for years to come with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook running the show.
Los Angeles Lakers (+700) – The two-time defending champion Lakers put together a 57-25 record which won them the lowly Pacific Division, which didn’t see another team finish with a winning record. Los Angeles backed into the playoffs by playing ugly down the stretch, but still managed to get the #2 seed. After beating the Hornets, it didn’t help them much as they were swept by the Mavericks in four games. This team is getting up there in age, and must get a little younger this offseason to help out Kobe Bryant and company. Plus, it will be interesting to see how new head coach Mike Brown can try to fill the massive shoes that Phil Jackson leaves behind.
Dallas Mavericks (+700) - Dallas matched the Lakers with a 57-25 record, but were edged out by a tiebreaker and had to settle for the #3 seed in the West. The Mavs took care of the Blazers, Lakers and Thunder to come out of the West. They beat the Miami Heat in six games behind brilliant play from Dirk Nowitzki in the fourth quarter of every game. This team is also getting up there in age, so it was very important for them to seize their opportunity this past season and finally win a championship for the first time in franchise history.
Boston Celtics (+800) – The Celtics put together a tremendous regular season with a 56-26 record which was more than good enough to win the Atlantic Division. They did falter a big in the second half which dropped them down to the #3 seed in the East. Boston took care of the New York Knicks before being overmatched by the Miami Heat and losing in five games. Management probably regrets trading away Kendrick Perkins last season, but they were looking towards the future when they made the move for Jeff Green.
San Antonio Spurs (+1500) – The Spurs just keep finding a way to get it done. San Antonio went 61-21 in the regular season to win the Southwest Division and earn the #1 seed in the West. They didn’t do much with it, though, as they lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. Tim Duncan is a free agent though he will almost certainly be back, and the Spurs must look to add a few more young pieces if they want to win a championship.
Orlando Magic (+2000) – The Magic finished second in the Southeast Division to the Heat with a 52-30 record and went into the playoffs as a #4 seed. Orlando lacked consistency as a team, though Dwight Howard had yet another MVP-caliber season and won his third straight Defensive Player of the Year award. The Magic had an early exit in the playoffs, losing to the Atlanta Hawks. There are talks that Howard won’t be back, but if he is then Orlando is once again a contender. They just haven’t been able to put the right pieces around him, and will need to do so if they want to keep him this offseason.
Denver Nuggets (+2500) – Denver put together a 50-32 season and finished second in the Northwest Division while earning the #5 seed in the West. This all came despite trading away Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups before the deadline, and bringing in a bunch of scraps from the New York Knicks. Those scraps turned out to be prized possessions as the Nuggets went on a ridiculous run in the second half. Now, Denver must decide which players they want to keep. Both Aaron Afflalo and Wilson Chandler are restricted free agents, and J.R. Smith, Nene Hilario and Kenyon Martin are all unrestricted free agents.
New York Knicks (+3000) - The New York Knicks come off a 42-40 campaign which was good enough for second-place in the Atlantic Division. They stumbled into the playoffs as the #6 seed and were swept away by the Boston Celtics. With Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire going forward, the Knicks have two of the top superstars in the game. But like many other teams, they must find a way to surround their stars with role players this offseason that can mesh well with these two.
Portland Trail Blazers (+3000) – The Blazers just can’t seem to catch a break. They suffered yet another injury-riddled 2010-11 campaign, but managed to come away with a 48-34 record for third-place in the Northwest Division. The Blazers put up a fight as the #6 seed against the Mavericks, but were no match in the end. Portland really needs superstar Brandon Roy to stay healthy for an entire season if they want to make some noise in the West. I like the pieces they have around him, including two of the most underrated players in the game in LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace.
New Orleans Hornets (+4000) – New Orleans started red hot before fading in the second half and finishing with a 46-36 record. Considering Chris Paul was virtually a one-man show, it was very impressive that they even made the playoffs as the #7 seed. They would take Game 1 against the Lakers before eventually losing to the two-time defending champs. Paul is out to win a championship, and the Hornets are going to have a very hard time keeping him around if they don’t get him some help. David West is underrated, but he’s an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Memphis Grizzlies (+4000) – The Grizzlies finished fourth in the Southwest Division with a 46-36 record. Few had them making the playoffs, but this young, overachieving squad managed to sneak into the postseason as the #8 seed. There, they upset the San Antonio Spurs in the first round and gave the Thunder all they could handle in the second before bowing out. This team certainly has a bright future behind Zach Randolph and company.
Atlanta Hawks (+5000) – Atlanta has proven to be no more than a mid-tier team in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks have to consider this season a success, though. Atlanta placed third in the Southeast Division with a 44-38 record, and went into the playoffs as a #5 seed. They got revenge on the Magic in the first round, but lost to the Bulls in the second. They have a solid nucleus to build on, but simply don’t have the talent as a whole to match the powers in the East.
Philadelphia 76ers (+6000) – It was a successful season in Doug Collins’ first year as head coach. The 76ers started slow, but finished strong with a 41-41 record to place third in the Atlantic Division. Philly did all they could to play the Heat tough, but would lose in five games. With such a young nucleus, Collins has a chance to make the 76ers a sleeper team in the East for years to come. They defend well and go 10-to-11 players deep in most games.
New Jersey Nets (+6000) – After a disastrous 24-58 season, the Nets’ first priority is to sign Deron Williams long-term after trading for him midseason. Williams isn’t going to stay around unless management can get several new pieces to add talent to the roster this offseason. This is certainly a work in progress, but the Nets now have an owner who is willing to pay for a contender.
Los Angeles Clippers (+7500) – The Clippers remain the laughing stock of the NBA after a 32-50 season. They are close to turning the corner after Blake Griffin returned from a broken kneecap to put together one of the most electrifying seasons ever. He won the slam dunk contest and was a highlight reel in almost every game he played. Now, the Clippers must find a way to bring in another superstar to compliment Griffin. The other pieces around him right now simply aren’t going to get it done.
Houston Rockets (+10000) – Houston was better than most anticipated, finishing with a winning record at 43-39. Unfortunately, the wound up in last place in the stacked Southwest Division. Houston can score with the best of ‘em as Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry put together tremendous seasons offensively. The problem is that they can’t defend anyone, and must get better on this end of the floor if they want to seriously compete in the West. It appears like this is the end of the road for Yao Ming in Houston.
Milwaukee Bucks (+10000) – Milwaukee finished third in the Central Divison with a 35-47 record in 2010-11. When you look at the Bucks’ roster, the only name that really stands out as a solid player is Andrew Bogut. Head coach Scott Skiles is left trying to get the most out of a roster that’s simply not filled with much talent. Brandon Jennings is a decent player, but he’s far too inconsistent. This team needs major upgrades at every position other than center and point guard, but they probably aren’t willing to spend the money.
Indiana Pacers (+10000) – The Pacers are coming off a 37-45 season and a second-place finish in the Central Division. That was good enough to get them the #8 seed in the East, where they would put up a good fight against the Bulls before bowing out in five games. Indiana has a star in Danny Granger and some decent role players around him, but not enough talent to seriously contend in the East with their the roster at hand.
Golden State Warriors (+10000) – The Warriors look to build on a 36-46 season with a new head coach in Marc Jackson. He will be able to coach up the guard tandem of Stephon Curry and Monte Ellis, and if they can surround these two with the right players, the Warriors could be a sleeper team in the West. Jackson must find a way to get his team to buy into playing defense, which certainly isn’t a strength of Curry or Ellis.
Utah Jazz (+10000) – The Jazz fell on hard times this year and missed the playoffs completely after a 39-43 finish, which placed them fourth in the Northwest Division. Jerry Sloan decided to retire midseason, and Deron Williams was traded away shortly after. That puts the Jazz in rebuilding mode and not much to work with on their current roster. Gone are the days of Stockton to Malone, and Williams to Boozer. It appears a few painful years are ahead in Salt Lake City.
Phoenix Suns (+10000) – The Suns just weren’t the same team after a sign-and-trade deal which sent Amare Stoudemire to the New York Knicks. Phoenix finished second in the Pacific Division with a 40-42 record, and once again they didn’t play enough defense to be competitive in the West. Plus, they lost their best offensive weapon. They are likely to lose free agents Grant Hill and Mickael Pietrus, and Steve Nash and Vince Carter become free agents in 2012. This team has a lot of decisions to make very soon. I foresee this franchise going through some hard times in years to come.
Sacramento Kings (+10000) – The Kings finished in last place in the Pacific Division with a 24-58 record. They did beat some very good teams in the second half to really show what they are capable of going forward. Plus, the franchise gets at least one more year in the city of Sacramento after it was almost certain they’d be making their move to Anaheim. This team has a nice nucleus to build around with the likes of Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, but they are likely to lose Samuel Dalembert and Marcus Thornton in free agency. While they certainly aren’t title contenders, the Kings could surprise some folks in 2011-12.
Charlotte Bobcats (+10000) – The Bobcats suffered through another losing 34-48 campaign and a fourth-place finish in the Southeast Division. Michael Jordan has yet to build a winner in Charlotte, and it doesn’t appear he will do so this coming season. He traded away his best player in Gerald Wallace to the Portland Trail Blazers, and somehow signed bust Kwame Brown last offseason. Brown, Nazr Mohammed, Boris Diaw and Joel Pryzbilla are all unrestricted free agents. If you thought it couldn’t get worse, it looks like it might in Charlotte.
Cleveland Cavaliers (+10000) – The Cavaliers knew they’d miss Lebron James, they just didn’t know how much. Cleveland finished with the worst record in the Eastern Conference at 19-63, placing them last in the central Division. They suffered through a season that saw them post an NBA-record 26-game losing streak. The only gratification that could come out of such a dismal season was watching the Miami Heat fall short in the NBA Finals. If the nucleus of Baron Davis, Antawn Jamison, Anderson Varajao, Daniel Gibson and J.J. Hickson could stay healthy, this team won’t be nearly as bad as they were last season.
Washington Wizards (+10000) – No. 1 pick John Wall went from a national championship contender in college to a bottom feeder in the NBA. Wall’s Wizards finished last in the Southeast Division with a 23-59 mark. This team suffered through several long losing streaks, especially on the road. Youth was certainly a big part of their league-worst 3-38 road record. Now, Washington is likely to lose free agents Nick Young and Josh Howard. They must find a way to surround Wall with talent, but it’s simply not going to happen in a year’s time.
Detroit Pistons (+20000) – Not long ago the Pistons were competing for championships every season. Since trading away Chauncey Billups, this team just hasn’t been the same. A fourth place finish in the Central Division and a 30-52 record last season led to the firing of head coach John Kuester, who clearly lost his team. Detroit is now looking for a new head man and will likely have to find ways to replace unrestricted free agents Tracy McGrady, Tayshaun Prince and Chris Wilcox, while possibly losing restricted free agent Rodney Stuckey. This team is clearly in rebuilding mode and it may be quite some time before Joe Dumars brings a winner back to Detroit.
Minnesota Timberwolves (+30000) - The Timberwolves out of the Northwest Division were owners of the league’s worst record at 17-65 last season. The only bright spot on this team was Kevin Love, who posted 53 straight double-doubles. That mark was the highest since the merger that joined the NBA and ABA in 1976, though Wilt Chamberlain exceeded that number before double-doubles were a statistic. With Love, Michael Beasley, Antony Randolph and Wesley Johnson, the Timberwolves have a nice, young foundation to build around. Plus, after two years of waiting, Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio has agreed to join the Timberwolves for the 2011-12 season.
Toronto Raptors (+30000) – The Toronto Raptors put together a dismal 22-60 season last year which placed them last in the Atlantic Division. They didn’t miss Chris Bosh as much as the Cavaliers missed Lebran James, but it was close. Aside from Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan, the Raptors simply don’t have another player that would start on a handful of other teams in the league. Toronto is poised to be a bottom feeder in the East for at least one more season.
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