The Cleveland Cavaliers are still dealing with the disappointment of falling short to the Golden State Warriors in the 2015 NBA Finals, but no worries, Cavs fans, because your team is the runaway favorite to win the 2016 NBA title.
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook released its odds early Tuesday for the upcoming 2015-16 season, and despite ending their season with a Game 6 loss in the Finals, the Cavaliers have the best odds-yes, even better than the defending champions, the Warriors-to take home the championship trophy next summer. Cleveland is listed as 9-4 while the Warriors come in a fairly distant second at 5-1.
While many NBA fans might assume that the Warriors should be the favorites given the fact that they just won the title, it’s fairly common for defending champions not to be the favorites heading into the following season. The San Antonio Spurs won the 2014 NBA title, but they entered the 2014-15 season second according to the odds at 4-1. The favorite? A reloaded Cavs team that was set to feature Kevin Love, LeBron James, and Kyrie Irving, but had never played a game together.
Now, for the second straight season, Cleveland is locked in as the preseason favorite to win an NBA title, perhaps more deservingly so than last preseason when, despite the hype surrounding a new star-studded “Big Three,” this version of the Cavs had proved nothing-other than having three great players who might mesh well together.
This postseason, however, the Cavaliers proved that they are the class of a rather weak Eastern Conference, and barring some monumental changes in free agency that shift more power to the East this offseason, they might very well have a clear path to the 2016 NBA Finals as well.
After all, Cleveland made it to this year’s NBA Finals with a depleted roster that left James to work with a squad that, like in the 2007 NBA Finals, had virtually no major scoring threat other than James himself. Irving wasn’t fully healthy at any point during the playoffs and missed all but one game of the Finals while Love missed most of the playoffs and Anderson Varejao missed most of the regular season and the entire playoffs as well.
Any of those scenarios is certainly possible, but any NBA team who wants to prove the oddsmakers wrong will have to go through the Warriors and the Cavs to do it
If Cleveland can push to the Warriors to six games with that ragtag squad of role players and would-be backups like Matthew Dellavedova, it’s certainly no surprise that Vegas favors the Cavs to win it all next season, especially when you consider what this team could look like in 2015-16.
After undergoing surgery to repair a fractured kneecap and having the proper time to recover, the Cavs should have a healthy Irving to start the 2015-16 season. Meanwhile, Varejao is expected to be back to provide the team with another big body in the paint, and Love has all online payday loans in AL but assured the Cavs that he’ll be back in Cleveland for one more year.
“The Cavs’ immediate future is troublesome: James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Matthew Dellavedova could all be free agents by es, Love and Smith have player options for next season and all are expected to decline them. Thompson, Shumpert and Dellavedova are expected to receive qualifying offers from the Cavs and they will become restricted free agents, giving the team the right to match any offer they receive. And the extensions Kyrie Irving (five years, $90 million) and Anderson Varejao (two years, $20.3 million) signed last year are also set to kick in.”
If an unforeseen scenario plays out that sees the Cavs lose any of these key pieces, particularly Love, James or Thompson, then the current 2016 NBA title odds might turn out to mean nothing at all.
In that case or perhaps in any case, you have to look at the Warriors as the favorites, and rightfully so.
Draymond Green is a restricted free agent, which means that Golden State can match any offer he receives from any other team, and the odds of the Warriors letting a versatile young stud like Green slip away are slim to none. That would ensure that Golden State brings back its own “Big Three” of Green, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson as well as 2015 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala and most of the squad’s other key players.
That, in turn, would make the Warriors-although not the favorites on paper-the logical favorites to win the NBA title for the second straight season and perhaps set up a highly anticipated rematch with the Cavs in the Finals. But let’s not forget that there are 28 other NBA teams who will do all they can to ensure that the Warriors don’t repeat and that James doesn’t end up playing in his sixth straight Finals.
The team with the best chance to do that, according to the oddsmakers, is a team that didn’t even make the playoffs last season, the Oklahoma City Thunder, which sits at 5-1 and is followed by the Los Angeles Clippers (10-1) and the San Antonio Spurs (12-1).
OAKLAND, CA – es #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on against the Golden State
Will it be the return of Kevin Durant that ignites a championship run for OKC? Will the Clippers finally break through that glass ceiling? Will the seemingly ageless Spurs do it again?