2022 NBA championship odds: Lakers, Nets co-favorites to win it all next season; Bucks have fourth-best odds
After 50 years, the Milwaukee Bucks are finally NBA champions once again. Thanks to a historic 50-point performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was named Finals MVP, they sealed the title with a dramatic Game 6 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
But while the Greek Freak, his teammates and the city of Milwaukee celebrate their incredible accomplishment, everyone else is turning the page to next season. That includes Las Vegas oddsmakers, who have already released the odds for the 2022 NBA champion. Let’s take a look at how things stand in the immediate aftermath of the Bucks’ victory (via William Hill Sportsbook).
The Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets open as co-favorites to win it all next season at +350 each. Next up are the Golden State Warriors with the third-best odds (+700), followed closely behind by the Bucks (+750). From there, there’s a big drop-off to the Suns and Clippers (both +1400), who round things out at in a tie for No. 5.
Usually teams that were eliminated in the first and second round, respectively, don’t open as title favorites for the upcoming season, but there were extenuating circumstances with both the Lakers and Nets, which is why it makes sense.
The Lakers, who had the shortest offseason in NBA history after their 2020 title, started the season in tremendous fashion before the lack of rest eventually caught up to them. Both LeBron James and Anthony Davis missed significant time in the regular season, and neither were 100 percent in their first-round loss to the Suns.
Meanwhile, the Nets had their own injury problems. The big three of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden played just eight games together in the regular season, and they were short-handed for the entirety of their second-round series against the Bucks — first because of Harden’s hamstring injury, and then due to Irving’s ankle sprain.
When Davis went down in the Lakers’ loss to the Suns, they were up 2-1 in that series. When Irving went down in the Nets’ loss to the Bucks and left Durant to run the show by himself, they were up 2-1 in that series. You can make a pretty strong case that when healthy, these are the two best teams in the league, or at the very least the most talented.
The Warriors are perhaps the most surprising inclusion among the top five, because they didn’t even make the playoffs last season. While they also had injury problems — Klay Thompson missed a second straight season — there are major issues with the roster. They’ll be better next season, but unless they make a major move it’s fair to wonder if Thompson’s return and two lottery picks are enough to vault them back into elite contender status.
So what about the Bucks? The fourth-best odds seems pretty fair for them. They’ll be dealing with another shortened offseason due to the league getting back to a normal schedule, and only four teams since 2000 have repeated as champions. It’s just a very difficult feat to accomplish, and that’s without acknowledging the fact that they looked to be in real trouble before the Nets fell apart. That isn’t to take away from what they accomplished this season, but a healthy Nets team has more elite talent than the Bucks.
Finally, there’s the Suns. There’s a big drop-off to their title odds, and for good reason. Mainly, it’s not clear if Chris Paul is going to be back in Phoenix next season. All of the teams above them have their cores locked in, but Paul has a player option for next season. If he takes it or re-signs an extension with the Suns, they’ll be one of the best teams again, and their odds will likely jump. But for now, it’s hard to put them any higher.