David PurdumESPN Staff WriterClose
- Joined ESPN in 2014
- Journalist covering gambling industry since 2008
The NBA Finals had a wild impact on next year’s championship odds, leaving the Los Angeles Lakers as the favorites at some sportsbooks and the injury-riddled Golden State Warriors as second-tier contenders.
The Lakers, at 400, are — despite their absence from the 2018-19 playoffs — the favorites to win the 2019-20 NBA championship at Caesars sportsbook, followed by the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers, who are each at 600. The Toronto Raptors, who took down the Warriors in Game 6 on Thursday to clinch the NBA Finals, are 800.
The SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas also has the Lakers as the favorites to win next year’s title, but New Jersey sportsbooks DraftKings and FanDuel each had the Bucks listed as the favorites on Friday afternoon.
Every book had the Warriors as the favorites entering the NBA Finals, but Golden State lost stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to serious injuries and saw its odds lengthen to as long as 14-1 to win next year’s title.
Durant suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the Finals, and Thompson tore his ACL late in the third quarter of Game 6. Durant and Thompson, two of several big names that potentially could be on the move this offseason, each face a long recovery.
“[Golden State] is now [Stephen] Curry and Draymond [Green] without much else,” Caesars head of risk Jeff Davis told ESPN on Friday morning. “There has been almost zero interest in them in the future market so far, so we made the decision to raise them and lower others.”
Durant’s and Thompson’s injuries throw a wrench into an offseason capable of shaking up the balance of power in the NBA. The champion Raptors head into the summer hoping the franchise’s first championship will be enough to persuade star Kawhi Leonard, a free agent, to stay in Toronto. The Boston Celtics and Lakers are reportedly in the mix to trade for New Orleans Pelicans All-Star forward Anthony Davis. The Celtics were listed at 1,200 at Caesars on Friday.
Caesars sportsbook senior oddsmaker Alan Berg said Thursday that he had already taken bets “big enough to make me respect them” on the Clippers and Lakers.
“We are treating all these bets as sharp on the basis that it’s a very speculative market, with all the powerful free agents who can turn these teams into championship contenders,” Berg added.
At the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, more money has been bet on the Lakers to win next year’s title than on any other team. Three of the four largest bets the SuperBook had taken on next year’s championship were on the Lakers, including a $4,000 bet placed in early June at 18-1.
Caesars sportsbook also took a “big bet” on the Lakers for next year, according to Berg, who says the real challenge for bookmakers begins now.
“We’re playing this game where hopefully we’re on top of the information before everyone else is,” Berg said. “But that’s usually not the case.”