The Golden State Warriors just won the 2015 NBA Finals and top sports betting sites already released future odds on which NBA team will win the 2016 NBA Finals.
LeBron James nearly single-handedly forced a Game 7 in a series in which the Cavs didn’t have anyone left but LeBron from their opening night starting lineup.
Cleveland (3/1) is the early favorite to win next year’s NBA Finals, but a lot can happen in a year. The Cavs have nearly everyone coming back and maybe next time around they will all be healthy.
Some of the other teams near the top are Golden State (5/1), Oklahoma City (7/1), Chicago (10/1), San Antonio (10/1) and Los Angeles Clippers (10/1).
Are there any dark horse teams that could contend for the 2016 NBA Finals?
Like I said before, a lot can happen in the next calendar. There have been many teams that take a big leap from one year to the next. Atlanta was the #8 seed in the playoffs in 2014 and this year they won 60 games and were the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Indiana had a similar leap a few years ago.
Indiana (33/1), Washington (40/1), Dallas (33/1) and Milwaukee (100/1) are my picks for taking a big leap in 2015-16.
Indiana will get a 100% healthy Paul George back. He played some near the end of this season, but he was far from healthy. Also, Roy Hibbert and David West could both opt-out of their contracts. Hibbert isn’t worth the money anymore, since Frank Vogel feels more comfortable playing a smaller lineup. West would be a big loss, but they could use the extra cap space to go after another power forward and draft a backup for that role.
Washington is in the same position as Cleveland. Most of the Wizards roster will be back next year. I liked how the Wizards played in the postseason. If John Wall didn’t get injured, they would have been a greater test for Cleveland. I expect them to make a few moves to re-tool this offseason. They want to free up enough cap space to make a run at Kevin Durant when he’s a free agent. I could see them moving Nene’s expiring contract.
Dallas rolled the dice and traded for Rajon Rondo mid-season…but that didn’t really pay off. They are losing a handful of players to free agency, but they have their eyes on other targets. They hope to lure DeAndre Jordan to town, possibly via a sign-and-trade for the big man. If they can’t get a deal done with Jordan, they will either re-sign Tyson Chandler or go after Marc Gasol or Greg Monroe. The Mavericks will re-stock and their odds will be greater than 33/1 by opening night of the 2015-16 season.
Milwaukee is a true dark horse. We’re talking about triple-digits to one odds here. They finished last season 41-41 and they didn’t have #2 overall pick Jabari Parker for most of the season. They recently added Caron Butler in a trade, if Milwaukee picks up his option, they will have a battle-tested veteran on a very young team. I expect Giannis Antetokounmpo to be an All-Star next season. He has improved so much in his first two seasons. Milwaukee may not win the title, but they will be even better in 2015-16.
Dark horses are fun to forecast, but Cleveland is the true favorite to win the 2016 NBA Finals. LeBron James didn’t win the Finals in his first year in Miami, but by the second year, they worked out the kinks and brought home a ring. Cleveland had a lot of issues, mostly due to injuries, but they will re-tool and have a full offseason to gameplan around LeBron.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.