Photo: David Jones/Flickr

The Nets will lead the charge into the upcoming season, which is poised to get underway on Tuesday, October 19. The Los Angeles Lakers remain the firm second-best bet, while the Milwaukee Bucks remain the third-best bet, albeit at a good distance off in the betting. 

Lookahead NBA futures tipped the Brooklyn Nets as the top bet for the 2021-22 NBA season in the summer, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers and the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks. And nothing has changed since, except the odds shortening further for Brooklyn as the preseason wrapped up.

NBA fans won’t have long to get a measure of these teams as the Brooklyn Nets are set to kick-start the season against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday. It’s a blockbuster Eastern Conference matchup that’s set to kickstart a stellar Tuesday in the NBA that will also feature the LA Lakers welcoming the Golden State Warriors in a Western Conference showdown of preseason favorites.

The Brooklyn Nets will go into the first game of the season without Kyrie Irving due to his refusal to comply with the league’s Covid-19 vaccine protocols though. His refusal will keep him off the court for the foreseeable, and it’s uncertain when he will be able to re-join his team or feature in a game. 

Irving’s absence hasn’t taken the shine off of the Nets’ odds so far. That’s likely down to the fact that the Nets were amongst the top Eastern Conference outfits last season despite dealing with a slew of injuries to their stars – at various points in time, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden were out due to injury.  As well, their favouritism to win the Larry O’Brien trophy is underscored by a strong supporting cast that includes stars like Kevin Durant and James Harden, amongst others, that are set to return this season.

Injuries prevented the Nets from making a run last year, despite their top odds. They succumbed to the Milwaukee Bucks in a thrilling second round series. The Nets lost in game 7 of the fiercely competitive series, but only just. The Bucks edged the Nets 115-11 in overtime of Game 7 in their second-round playoff series on the way to the title.

The added rest period in the offseason will likely favor the Nets as they look to come through on the high NBA scores and odds that they’re getting from the punditocracy and odds makers. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the last two NBA seasons were played under extraordinary circumstances and with heavy repercussions on the NBA schedule. 

The Los Angeles Lakers, who won the 2020 NBA title, are case-and-point of what can happen to a team on short rest and a quick turnaround. The Lakers limped into the playoffs and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Phoenix Suns after suffering a slew of costly injuries.

LeBron James
Photo: Los Angeles Lakers/Twitter

LeBron James and the Lakers appear to be the value bet in early betting markets to win the NBA Championships according to consensus betting reports. The Lakers appear to be getting more attention from the public than both the Nets and Budks. LeBron’s championship pedigree – winning four titles with three different teams – probably plays a big factor in that conspicuous betting trend. As well, losing in the first round last year means that they have had the benefit of a longer offseason.

The Milwaukee Bucks’ championship run is in the rear-view mirror. They’re clearly not getting enough respect compared to the Nets and Lakers in the betting. There’s a huge gap in the NBA odds between the top tandem and the Bucks this season with the Bucks priced almost four times higher. Nevertheless, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Company will be keen to prove they’re legitimate contenders for an NBA Championship repeat. 

The Golden State Warriors, who are set to kickstart the season against LeBron James and Company are equally attracting early betting appeal. Although the Warriors are pegged as the fourth-best in the betting, they’re coming off a perfect 5-0 preseason, which underscores their NBA odds. 

The Golden State Warriors used to be the standard in the NBA, but the last two seasons have seen them miss the playoffs. Stephen Curry and Company will be eager to get back in the conversation.

A lot can change overnight in the NBA, and should the Bucks and the Warriors pull off the upset over the Nets and Lakers respectively on opening night, the NBA odds could shift dramatically across the board.