The last NBA season ended in spectacular fashion with the Milwaukee Bucks winning the Larry O’Brien trophy in six games against the Phoenix Suns, who lost four straight after going 2-0 ahead in the finals.
But all that is in the past now, and with the 2021-22 NBA season around the corner, franchises are preparing their rosters in anticipation of another race to the title.
The biggest disappointment last season were the Los Angeles Lakers, who lost to the Suns in the first playoff round mainly because of injuries to their key players.
With LeBron James turning 37 next season, the clock is ticking on the King’s career - and the Lakers know it.
That knowledge coupled with their early playoff exit has prompted some big offseason moves, with the Lakers back office working to surround James and Anthony Davis with as much talent as possible.
Russell Westbrook was brought in from Washington in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell.
The Lakers also signed Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard, Kent Bazemore, and Wayne Ellington as free agents, as well as Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, and Carmelo Anthony.
The most recent acquisition is DeAndre Jordan who was traded from Brooklyn to Detroit and he agreed on a buyout with the Pistons signed a one-year, $2.6 million with the Lakers.
There’s a scary amount of talent on this Lakers roster, but this is also the oldest team in the league. Will talent and experience matter more than energy and hunger?
The odds for the Lakers to win a record 18th NBA championship next season are +400.
The bookies’ biggest favorite to win it all are the Brooklyn Nets.
That comes as no surprise: the Nets were the league favorites last season too after they added James Harden to create what was described as a superteam.
Unfortunately for them, both Harden and Kyrie Irving were injured in the playoffs and LaMarcus Aldridge unexpectedly retired.
Kevin Durant tried to carry the team in the playoffs and was close to inching them past the eventual champion Bucks, but his foot on the three-point line at the end of game 7 changed everything.
Patty Mills, who has championship experience with the San Antonio Spurs, joins the Nets as does former All-Star Paul Millsap, who signed as a free agent from Denver. The Nets can also go back to counting on Aldridge, who returns on a one-year deal after retiring due to heart concerns.
Sekou Doumbouya and Jahlil Okafor arrived from Detroit in a trade for DeAndre Jordan, while Jevon Carter joins as part of a trade deal with Phoenix that sees Landry Shamet heading the other way.
The biggest loss for the Nets is undoubtedly the departure of Spencer Dinwiddie, who signed with the Washington Wizards as a free agent.
If Steve Nash manages his superstars’ playing time and can keep them healthy for the playoffs, the Nets are the NBA’s go-to team.
They are rated at +240 to win the NBA championship.
The Milwaukee Bucks enter the 2021-2022 NBA season as the reigning champs, after two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo led his team to their first championship in 50 years.
Veterans Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday had a huge impact on the success and they, together with Giannis, will be the core of the team.
There are three new faces in the Milwaukee locker room: Rodney Hood, Grayson Allen, and Semi Ojeleye. But coach Mike Budenholzer will need a much deeper bench if the Bucks are to have any hope of repeating their super season and keeping the Nets at bay.
The Bucks may be the reigning NBA champions, but +900 odds show that it will be tough for them to make it two in a row.
Steph Curry has signed his second $200+ million contract extension and with Klay Thompson finally back after missing two straight seasons, the Warriors are set to try to restore their championship dynasty.
Signing Otto Porter Jr., Andre Iguodala, and Nemanja Bjelica will definitely help them return to the playoffs, but their success will depend on the ‘Splash brothers’ and Draymond Green’s all-around game.
Coach Steve Kerr expects a much bigger impact from Andrew Wiggins and James Wiseman and if they step up, the Warriors look like a team ready to make another strong run to the finals.
Just like the Bucks, the Warriors have +900 odds to win the championship next year.
The Suns were two games away from the NBA championship last season despite starting that season as rank outsiders with +6600 odds of winning the title.
Chris Paul is back after signing a new four-year, $120 million deal. Expect Paul to gradually give team leadership over to main man Devin Booker, whose scoring touch will be a key factor in the Sun’s success or failure this season.
The Suns are priced at +1500 to win the title and it’s hard to imagine seeing them back in the finals. But the NBA has seen bigger upsets, so don’t count them out.
The Clippers made it to their first-ever Western Conference finals last season, but ended up being eliminated by the Phoenix Suns.
But a major injury to their star Kawhi Leonard means they start this new season with less enthusiasm than you might expect. Leonard was signed to a max-extension but will miss the first six months of the season due to a torn ACL.
That means the team will look to Paul George to carry the ball during key moments.
The Suns traded two-point guards - Patrick Beverly and Rajon Rondo - to Memphis for Eric Bledsoe. That’s a very risky move by GM Michael Winger. Let’s see if it pays off.
Bookies have the Clippers as +1600 favorites to win the championship. Those odds look pretty high for Ty Lue’s team.
The Sixers did not just lose a playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks last season: they also lost the core of their team, which appeared to fall apart as coach Doc Rivers and leading scorer Joel Embiid both singled out Ben Simmons for criticism after his poor performances.
Simmons is now determined to leave the team and Philly’s prospects will largely depend on what they manage to get for him.
If you trust the people leading the show in Philadelphia, the +1600 odds they’re offered at could be a great deal.
When healthy, Embiid is absolutely unstoppable and with Tobias Harris, Seth Curry, and the newly added Andre Drummond, the Sixers can have a good playoff run.