The 2021 NBA draft ended on July 29th and the topic, if there was one, was one of the trades. The biggest, of course, was the preliminary draft deal that Russell Westbrook sent to Los Angeles, where he’ll be a Laker for the 2021/22 season.
The Westbrook trade, as well as other draft night trades and the draft itself, have impacted NBA championship odds for 2021-22. The shift in odds has been more dramatic for some teams like the Lakers.
Lakers big step
When the first NBA title odds were released for the next season, the Lakers were up to +600 years old to win. With the announcement of the Westbrook deal, LA’s odds dropped to +400. The Lakers suffered an injury-ridden 2020/21 season and were eliminated from the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs.
The Lakers cast will now include Westbrook, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and role-players like Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Los Angeles were among the top scoops in championship odds, but they weren’t the only ones.
Stephen Curry isn’t getting any younger, but he’s still the best long-range shooter the game has ever seen. Klay Thompson will be back and hopefully stay healthy all season. Draymond Green is still there and last year’s number 1 James Wiseman is a year older. Don’t forget Andrew Wiggins, who averaged 18.6 points per game last season.
Golden State had two picks in the top 15 – # 7 and # 14 – and used them to bolster a lineup in need. The Warriors took over Jonathan Kuminga with the seventh pick, then added 6-6 guard Moses Moody with # 14. Odds makers loved the Warriors Draft so much that they moved it from +1200 to +1000. The Warriors have missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, but that could change in 2021/22.
As expected, the Detroit Pistons selected former Oklahoma State point guard Cade Cunningham with the first pick of this year’s draft. Cunningham is big at 6-8, can create and score, and is an excellent pass giver. His passing skills weren’t that good for the Cowboys last season because he was needed more as a goalscorer.
In Detroit, Cunningham will benefit from a young roster that includes last year’s draft picks Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart. The Pistons also have the young guardian Killian Hayes. Cunningham should jump in as a starter right away and give him a great chance to win this year’s NBA Rookie of the Year.
With such a stellar selection, the Pistons’ chances of winning the NBA title should have improved, right? Absolutely not how the odds makers thought of the selection. Detroit is still one of the five teams given odds of +50,000 to win the whole season next season. Orlando, Cleveland, Oklahoma City, and Houston are the other four.
No change at the top
Not long after Milwaukee clinched its first NBA title in 50 years, the Brooklyn Nets were honored to win the championship as a favorite in 2021-22. The nets were installed as favorites at +200, despite bidding farewell to the 2020-21 playoffs in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Milwaukee ousted the Nets in seven games.
Brooklyn added to its star-studded list with the selection of Cam Thomas in the first round and Kessler Edwards in the second. Thomas, a 6-4 security guard from LSU, averaged 23 points per game last season in the SEC, which not many SEC newbies do. Edwards is a 6-8 wing that scores just like Thomas. The Nets remain +200 favorites to win it all next season.
Fade Suns, Sixers
Philadelphia worked hard on the phone lines before the draft, looking for buyers for Ben Simmons. The Sixers could not find any interest and took Tennessee point guard Jaden Springer with them. Philly also ended up with 6-11 Charles Bassey, a Nigerian over Western Kentucky. Nevertheless, the odds of the 76ers have shifted to +1600.
Phoenix, who lost to Milwaukee in the NBA final last season, is unlikely to return. The Sun’s greatest need in the design was a powerful backup for C Deandre Ayton. When Phoenix lost Dario Saric to a knee injury, they were unable to spell Ayton against the bigger, more physical Bucks.
The Suns designed 6-10 Day’Ron Sharpe, but his rights were traded to Brooklyn. It looks like the Suns have Ayton, JaVale McGee and last year’s top pick 6-10 Jalen Smith who hasn’t been able to break the rotation this season. Like Philly, Phoenix is listed at +1600 to win it all for the next season.