The NBA is moving at a breakneck pace to start the 2021 season after the 2020-21 season wrapped up in October. The league and NBA Players Association agreed to terms for the next season with training camps opening on Dec. 1 and a 72-game regular season tipping off on Dec. 22.
Following the NBA Draft on Nov. 18, we’ve seen a flurry of activity through free agency and trades. The landscape has gelled to a degree now and we’re taking a look at where teams fall in terms of their betting odds to win the title next season.
Here is a look at live NBA title odds with the draft in the rearview mirror and with free agency underway.
2021 NBA title odds
2021 NBA Futures Report
NBA Championship favorites
Los Angeles Lakers (+300): LeBron James is still under contract and Anthony Davis is negotiating a new deal to stay in L.A. The Lakers cut ties with veterans Rajon Rondo and Danny Green, but added Dennis Schorder to their bench and get even better up front by adding Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol on two-year deals.
Milwaukee Bucks (+550): While Giannis Antetokounmpo has declined to sign a Super Max extension prior to Thanksgiving, the Bucks remain the favorites in the ECF and are slightly ahead of the Clippers (+650) as the second favorites to win the title at FanDuel. Jrue Holiday is a significant upgrade over Eric Bledsoe, but losing out on Bogdan Bogdanovic hurts.
Los Angeles Clippers (+550): The Clippers made minor moves to potentially upgrade their roster, effectively swapping Landry Shamet for Luke Kennard and signing Serge Ibaka after letting Harrell walk in free agency. The biggest question for this squad is chemistry under new HC Tyronn Lue after they let a 3-1 lead evaporate in the WCF semifinals last season.
Brooklyn Nets (+600): Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are reportedly healthy heading into the season and the Nets have been linked to James Harden in trade rumors. So far Houston is holding onto it’s star, but there are indications that Brooklyn could add another big name and thus become the favorites in the ECF.
NBA championship contenders
Boston Celtics (+1300): Kemba Walker (knee) is already doubtful to start the season and the Celtics signed Jeff Teague for some insurance. With Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown locked up on multi-year deals, the C’s will be perennial contenders, but they likely need another star to have a true chance at a championship.
Miami Heat (+1500): The Heat turned in a special run in the Bubble and extended Bam Adebayo to lock down their star center of the future. Yet their current roster is not getting much respect from oddsmakers as they drop from +900 following a relatively quiet transactional period.
Toronto Raptors (+2000): The Raptors let Gasol and Ibaka walk and replaced them with cheap free agents Aron Baynes and Alex Len. That allowed them to re-sign Fred VanVleet and preserve their ultra-talented backcourt.
Denver Nuggets (+2200): Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are a superstar duo that can carry the Nuggets deep into the playoffs for a third straight year. As long as they have those core pieces, Denver is a team to watch.
Dallas Mavericks (+2200): While Kristaps Porzingis is recovering from yet another knee surgery, the Mavs are fully capable of vying for a playoff spot with MVP candidate Luka Doncic set to carry the load.
Philadelphia 76ers (+3000): Doc Rivers and Daryl Morey have been aggressive since taking over basketball operations in Philly. With Seth Curry on the roster, the Sixers should capitalize on the spacing created by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
Golden State Warriors (+3000): Losing Klay Thompson (Achilles) in the preseason kills the Warriors chances in the ultra-competitive west. Their odds have plummeted from +600 to +3000 at DK despite the fact that they drafted promising big man James Wiseman.
Houston Rockets (+3000): Both James Harden and Russell Westbrook have requested trades and adding disgruntled big man DeMarcus Cousins might not do much to assuage those star guards.
Phoenix Suns (+4000): After going 8-0 in the Bubble, the Suns add Chris Paul to a loaded roster. We saw Paul help the Thunder soar past expectations last year and his veteran presence changes the Futures market for the Suns.
How the 2021 NBA Playoffs will work
The 2020-21 NBA regular season will last 72 games with the top six teams in each conference earning an automatic playoff berth. Teams that finish in the 7-10 spots in each conference will be eligible for a play-in tournament (May 18-21) as long as they’re within four games in the final standings.
The 9th seed in each conference will have a chance to play their way into the playoffs by beating the 8th seed twice in a row. The 8th seed would have to win one of those games to advance. The scenario is the same for the 10th seed and 7th seed in each conference if the 10th seed qualifies.
The NBA still plans to run best-of-seven series formats for the quarterfinal, semifinal and finals in both the Eastern and Western Conference. Those rounds will take place from May 22 to July 6, with the NBA Finals scheduled from July 8 to 22, just one day before the 2021 Summer Olympics are scheduled to open in Japan.
NBA Finals odds: Futures betting 101
NBA futures bets function like futures bets in other sports. They’re typically based on an end-of-season outcome. Futures bets are usually made available on both the team and player level.
Prior to the start of a season, team-level futures could include a wager on the minimum number of wins a team will capture in that season or whether a team will win its division or conference.
Player-level futures include whether a player will win the MVP, Rookie of the Year or Sixth Man of the Year awards, for example. Other player-level futures are based on whether a player will reach certain benchmarks in common statistical categories such as points, 3-point shots, rebounds or assists for the season.
Where do I find futures bets in an online sportsbook?
In an online sportsbook, available futures wagers are typically found under their own tab as a subcategory of wagers available for a particular sport. Like the odds for other bet types, futures bets are typically labeled with a number that has a “plus” or “minus” sign next to it.
In the case of futures bets, a “minus” sign would be placed next to a team or player that has a higher probability of reaching the statistical goal. Teams or players with a “plus” sign are considered by oddsmakers to have a lesser chance of reaching that goal. The higher the number next to the plus sign signifies the lower the probability the team or player achieves it.
For example, the Golden State Warriors entered the 2018-19 season as the overwhelming favorites to win a third consecutive championship and when the playoffs began they were listed as “-210” in terms of their odds of winning the title outright. That signifies that a bettor would have to wager $210 to win $100 if the Warriors did indeed win it all.
It’s also important to note that futures odds for both players and teams can certainly fluctuate throughout the course of a season. Odds have fluctuated due to the long break during the first months of the pandemic, so check out our table for a full look at odds.
Best NBA betting sites
Common questions regarding wagering on the NBA Finals
Where can I bet on the NBA Finals in the US?
Bettors can currently bet on the NBA Finals in the US at a regulated sportsbook in one of the following states:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Who is the favorite to win the NBA Championship in 2021?
The Lakers were installed as favorites to repeat, with odds of +360 at FanDuel Sportsbook.
When does the 2021 NBA season start?
The 2021 NBA season is expected to start in January or February.
When do the NBA Finals start?
The 2020 NBA Finals started on Sept. 30 and wrapped up in October Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA Finals typically began and ended in the month of June.
Where can I get NBA betting tips?
Start with our own 6-part NBA betting series right here:
PlayPicks.com is also a valuable resource for bettors of all levels. Throughout the NBA season, PlayPicks.com will feature articles with a sports betting breakdown of select games, including a suggested lean or pick on the game’s point spread, moneyline and/or the projected total. Additionally, new bettors can find rewarding offers and bonuses exclusive to PlayPicks.com readers that are also first-time depositors.