The NBA season begins on October 22nd after what feels like an eternity. With multiple teams vying for the title and a potential superstar entering the league from college, this season promises to be full of the electrifying moments that get us out of our seats.
Here’s our look at the upcoming NBA season as we share our predictions on the likely Championship contenders, potential candidates to take Rookie of the Year and those who could be in the MVP mix.
NBA Season Preview 2019/20 – Championship Winner, Rookie of The Year & MVP Predictions
NBA Championship winner
Following a summer in which several of the league’s biggest names relocated, the NBA – for the first time in half a decade – looks to be wide open in terms of Championship contenders. A group of five or six teams could justifiably feel they’ll be in the mix come the post-season, including last season’s beaten finalists, the Golden State Warriors.
It makes sense to start in Los Angeles after such a turbulent summer, with some of the league’s biggest superstars descending on California. Following their monster trade to acquire Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers (10/3 with Marathonbet), are finally in a place where they can make the most of having LeBron James. The King – now with a roster he’s seemingly handpicked – looks to be well placed to make a deep post-season run. Questions will hover over his ability to play at the highest level in his 16th season, but the addition of superstar Anthony Davis will mean a serious defensive presence at the rim, as well as some extra shooting.
Whilst the Lakers had a good summer, they may well have been outshone by their fellow Staples Center tenants, the Los Angeles Clippers (57/20). Traditionally the lesser of the two LA teams, the Clippers made a creditable fight of their first-round series with the Warriors last season and built on that by adding two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, and superstar forward Paul George this summer. The addition of two of the top ten players in the league has propelled the Clippers from a well-respected tough out in the West, to genuine Championship contenders. Whilst their defensive prowess will likely be lauded, this is a team with no lack of scoring, and they’re favourites to win a ring for good reason.
The West is certainly as deep as it’s ever been, but the Eastern Conference will also have a representative in this year’s Finals. The Milwaukee Bucks (97/20) are the favourites to snatch that berth, driven by last season’s regular season MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo. It may not be reliable as of yet, but Giannis’ ever-improving three point shot is primed to make him the most unstoppable superstar in the league. The loss of Malcolm Brogdon’s shooting will hurt the Bucks, but they should still have enough depth to make some noise in the post-season.
The Philadelphia 76ers (34/5) will be the Bucks’ toughest competition in the Eastern Conference, and they’ll be no pushovers for Giannis. They may have lost both Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick, but they balanced those losses with the pick-ups of Al Horford and Josh Richardson. The pair both offer shooting, and Al Horford’s defensive prowess alongside Joel Embiid means it won’t be easy to score against the Sixers this season. There will still be lingering concerns over Ben Simmons’ lack of a jump-shot, but this Philadelphia team is talented enough to mix it with the best in the league. Looking over the NBA winner odds, the Sixers are surely worth a second look.
A dark horse for the title could be the Golden State Warriors (45/4). They may have lost Kevin Durant over the summer, but the shrewd pick-up of D’Angelo Russell means that Durant’s scoring will at least be somewhat replaced. Stephen Curry appears ready to embark on another run for MVP, making the Warriors dangerous. The Houston Rockets (37/5) and the Utah Jazz (27/2) both have worthy cases for being considered NBA title challengers too, after strong some strong summer recruitment. Divisive Point-Guard Russell Westbrook joins James Harden in Texas in a team that may need time to gel before they start motoring through the gears. The Jazz will be typically efficient, the signings of Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic should offer some post-season experience.
Most Valuable Player
Reigning MVP of the NBA Giannis Antetokounmpo (12/5), will look to retain the title after a stellar year in the 2018/19 season. The Greek forward averaged 28 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists per game last season, and crucially showed the beginnings of a jump shot that could spell danger for every other team in the NBA. He’s favourite to win again this year and with good reason – there’s nothing to suggest he’s going to slow down, and an increased % of three pointers made could see him stroll to a second consecutive MVP.
Best placed to challenge Giannis for MVP honours is Stephen Curry (5/1). The Warriors Guard is now freed from the shackles of having Kevin Durant as a teammate and is in prime position to recreate his historic 2015/16 MVP season. Curry should see more of the ball without Durant, and whilst he’ll be the full focus of opposition defences until Klay Thompson returns from injury, it’s something he’s grown used to in recent seasons.
James Harden (6/1), LeBron James (15/2) and Anthony Davis (8/1) can all make strong MVP pushes this season, but sustained MVP level performance may come from elsewhere.
Joel Embiid (16/1), is arguably the most talented big man in the league, and with Jimmy Butler’s departure, the centre will surely see more of the ball in the low post. This, combined with an improved three point shot, could see Embiid average some monster numbers in both points and rebounds. The Cameroonian’s defensive prowess will also add to his potential MVP push. If the 76ers finish top of the Eastern Conference, Embiid’s case will be a strong one.
Could Doncic offer value?
Last season’s Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic (52/1) is a serious longshot for the MVP award this season, but if he continues on the trajectory he started last year, there’s no reason why he can’t be in the conversation. The Slovenian point-forward came into the league with some considerable doubters who claimed his European-style game wouldn’t translate to the NBA.
They couldn’t have been more wrong as the Mavericks star put together a highlight reel to rival some of the league’s best. With significant experience of important games and the addition of Kristaps Porzingis, Doncic is set to propel himself into the mix as one of the top 15 players in the NBA. If the Mavericks make the play offs, he might just be a good value pick when considering the NBA MVP odds.
Rookie of the Year
This appears to be a one-horse race as Zion Williamson (13/20) enters the league fresh from a dominant season at Duke. The forward has been described as the most talented player to come out of the draft since Kevin Durant in 2007. He’s certainly the most hyped prospect since a certain LeBron James came out of high school. In a young New Orleans Pelicans team, he’ll immediately be given a chance to hog the limelight. Injury worries may hamper Williamson’s season however, and if that’s the case, there are plenty of candidates waiting in the wings for a shot at the award.
Ja Morant (7/2) of the Memphis Grizzlies and R.J Barrett (57/10) of the New York Knicks, will be two of those candidates. Morant didn’t come to the fore until late in the college season but his rise was a meteoric one, and as such he was selected second in the 2019 draft by the Grizzlies. Barrett – playing in the same team as Williamson – certainly wasn’t out of the spotlight but was definitely outshone by his teammate. He may well be out for revenge this season, and winning the Rookie of the Year award looks to be the perfect way to exact that.
A long-shot pick from the current NBA Rookie of the Year betting odds could be Michael Porter Jr. (24/1). Whilst he was drafted into the league last season, injuries ravaged what would’ve been his rookie year, making him eligible for the award this season. The forward was one of the most promising prospects of the 2018 draft before his back problems, and his return to full fitness could see him make a push for the award.
Follow us and tweet @Marathonbet