Check out the Betway Insider’s NBA picks and predictions page for tips throughout the 2020-21 NBA season.
NBA champions: Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are the favourites to win the title this season, and for good reason.
The defending champions triumphed in the Orlando bubble in October, beating the Miami Heat 4-2 in the Finals, and they should only improve this season thanks to some strong moves over the past few months.
Having locked up reigning Finals MVP LeBron James and fellow superstar Anthony Davis with contract extensions, Lakers GM Rob Pelinka managed to improve the roster by trading for Dennis Schroder and signing Montrezl Harrell.
The speedy Schroder will fill the Lakers’ biggest void as a playmaker from the point guard position who can also create his own shot, while Harrell is the reigning Sixth Man of the Year and is an upgrade on big men Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, who both left as free agents.
Marc Gasol and Wes Matthews will also bring veteran experience to a roster that already had plenty of playoff pedigree.
The Lakers should stroll to the top seed in the Western Conference, and it’s hard to bet against James and Davis in the playoffs given how unstoppable they looked in the bubble.
NBA champions (each-way): Denver Nuggets
For an outside bet, the Denver Nuggets reached the Western Conference Finals last season and could certainly go further this time around, particularly if either of the Lakers’ stars suffer an injury.
The Nuggets have one of the league’s emerging stars in Jamal Murray – who was close to unguardable in the playoffs – and one of the best big men in the game in Nikola Jokic.
Youngsters Michael Porter Jr. and Bol Bol could help to take this team to the next level if they fulfil their enormous potential, so they look worth a punt.
Eastern Conference winner (including playoffs): Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee held the East’s best regular season record in each of the past two seasons, but were eliminated in the Conference Finals in 2019 and the second round last year.
The Bucks look primed to finally reach the Finals this year, however, having brought in some extra help for franchise cornerstone Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The two-time MVP has been dominant during the regular season, but teams have focused on him defensively in the playoffs and the Bucks’ supporting cast have failed to step up.
This offseason, however, Milwaukee traded for point guard Jrue Holiday, an excellent player at both ends of the court who should fit in nicely with their core of Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez.
Holiday’s elite defence meshes perfectly with the Bucks’ identity as a team – he’s a career 35.4 per cent three-point shooter and can take on some of the ball handling and scoring responsibility when Giannis is off the court.
The Bucks have more continuity than joint-favourites Brooklyn, more stability than Philadelphia and Boston and arguably more talent than the Miami Heat, so they look a good bet to earn the top seed once again and ride their home advantage all the way to the Finals.
Visit Betway’s NBA betting page.