With superteams becoming the norm in the NBA, talent is now stratified across the league more than it has been ever before. There are only a select few teams who can realistically be in the hunt for the title all year long, as reflected by these preseason odds. But this year, there have been some teams that have surprised us.
Going into the season, the Cleveland Cavaliers were deemed to be right up near the top of the pack, with the reloaded Golden State Warriors just above them after they acquired Kevin Durant. The predictions have mostly held firm, but the Houston Rockets, led by transformed point guard James Harden, are right in the thick of it in the Western Conference, just four games back from the Warriors’ top spot.
Additionally, on the opposite coast from Golden State, the New York Knicks, who rebuilt their team for this season, are slightly underwhelming. The Milwaukee Bucks, led in basically every statistical category by Giannis Antetokounmpo, are playing much better than their preseason title odds of 200/1 thought.
Among the biggest disappointments are the Minnesota Timberwolves as they sit in 13th place in the Western Conference, when they were predicted to have a 75/1 shot at taking home an NBA Championship. The Chicago Bulls have fallen just short of expectations while sitting at 6th place in the East when their preseason odds were the 4th best in their conference at 66/1.
The bottom of the pack has held pretty much true to form, with the Dallas Mavericks playing much, much worse than predicted. They sit at 15th place in their conference when their odds gave them a relatively decent shot at a title with 175/1 odds. Teams like the Denver Nuggets, Brooklyn Nets, and Phoenix Suns, all who had odds of 500/1 or worse, have done just as was expected of them.
All in all, the talent stratification helped out a lot for preseason predictions, and the teams have help rather true to those estimates thus far this season, with a few surprises. Let’s see if, come May, any of the underdogs can beat the Warriors or Cavs to an NBA championship.