The 2014-15 NBA season is coming up and there are many big stories to take a look at with regards to what is going on in the league. Many of these stories have greatly impacted the basketball futures odds for the season.
The Rise of LeBron
To say that LeBron James' departure from Miami to head back to the Cleveland Cavaliers is the biggest story of the NBA offseason would be an understatement. As the best player in the league, much has been made about King James coming back after playing in four straight NBA Finals and winning two with the Miami Heat. This and the recent addition of Kevin Love to the Cavs through a trade have propped the Cavs to being the favorites to win the 2014-15 title. The team has +310 odds to win the NBA title and +160 odds to win in the East.
After spending much of last year struggling to return, the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose is expected to be healthy and ready to be a big competitor. Rose has been looking great in USA Basketball games lately and the addition of Pau Gasol to the Bulls will help as well. Joakim Noah is still going to be a rebounding threat but the Bulls only have +800 odds to win the title and +260 odds for the East. This may come from the Bulls having the NBA's worst offense last year.
Time Running Out in OKC?
Much is being made over Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder with regards to whether or not Durant will leave the Thunder in 2016 when he becomes a free agent. The same goes for two others who are signed through 2017, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. The window of opportunity is running slim in OKC. The +570 odds for the Thunder to win it all and the +310 to win in the West only add to the pressure.
Don't Forget the Champs
While they have won five NBA titles, the San Antonio Spurs are not getting any younger. Patrick Mills' new contract with the Spurs will ensure that he is going to be a part of the team for years but with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili possibly retiring after 2015, the Spurs will certainly want to make one more run. The oddsmakers are smiling on this basketball team as they have +400 odds to win are +240 favorites in the West.
There are many teams in the NBA that have really improved over the past offseason. The Dallas Mavericks have improved with Monta Ellis taking off much of the load from Dirk Nowitzki. The additions of Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons will help as welll. The Mavs are listed at +2650 to win the title.
The New York Knicks dodged a real bullet as Carmelo Anthony will stay with the team. Acquiring Jose Calderon in a trade and bringing in Jason Smith to offset the loss of Tyson Chandler for a strong physical and rebounding presence helps as well. Still, the Knicks are listed at +5000 to win the championship.
The Washington Wizards are listed at +4850 for the title but this number may improve as the season goes along. While Paul Pierce is not as offensively proficient as he has been in recent years, his veteran leadership will certainly go well with a team that already has a big young star in John Wall. Still, the loss of Trevor Ariza may hurt from a defensive perspective.
The Charlotte Hornets have rebounded quite a bit with Steve Clifford really controlling the scene and Kemba Walker leading the former Bobcats to a playoff berth last year. However, the +8050 odds for the Hornets clearly shows that they're more of an upset team if anything.
The Toronto Raptors are moving forward with DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas leading the way for the team to potentially improve. However, the oddsmakers are not as big on them right now, what with the team having +6650 odds while being at only +2150 for the East.
On the Decline
There are some teams that are going to be on the decline this year and the futures odds show. The Indiana Pacers' season practically went south after Paul George suffered a major injury during a USA Basketball exhibition. The team that made it to the Eastern Conference finals last year has dropped to +6550 odds for the title and +775 odds in the East.
The Houston Rockets may have +1525 odds and a +760 shot at the West but the departures of Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik certainly won't help. The inability of the team to lure Chris Bosh from Miami hurts as well.
Speaking of which, the Miami Heat have fallen from perennial favorites to +4550 underdogs to win it all. The Heat still have a +235 shot at the East though, what with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade sticking around for the coming year. Still, losing LeBron James to Cleveland may make a real impact on the Heat and the team's potential to get out there and win this year.
Who Not To Bother With
There are some teams that can be avoided this coming season. The Minnesota Timberwolves are clearly in rebuilding mode, what with Kevin Love being traded. Still, the young team with Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young may be strong a few years from now. Until then, the Wolves have +25000 odds this year.
The Philadelphia 76ers have +30000 odds to win this year. Coming off of a season that featured a losing streak that almost made NBA history, the Sixers have not gotten much done this offseason. Thaddeus Young's departure to Minnesota will only make things worse, what with him being the team's leading scorer last year. This could end up being Michael Carter-Williams' time to shine depending on what goes along this year.
The Milwaukee Bucks have the worst odds of all NBA teams with +36500 odds. The team had a poor offense last year and did not get much of anything out of new players. However, young star Giannis Antetokounmpo may be a real threat on the court in the near future as his performance with the Greek national team in recent time suggests.