The NBA season appears to be very intriguing. There is no clear-cut number-one team that projects to be a massive favorite come playoff time. The Warriors are looking to repeat, while the Celtics are looking for revenge from last year. Many rookies look very promising. All of this goes without mentioning likely the most unique factor of this NBA season; the tank for Victor Wembanyama.
Betting odds for winning the championship this season have the Clippers with the best chance at +550. It makes sense that the Clippers would be favorites with Kawhi Leonard back from a torn ACL that kept him out all last season. Also, the Clippers signed John Wall, adding to their depth. However, even with these additions, it isn’t realistic that the Clippers have the best odds, as both these players are old, and the team around them isn’t that good. Second in betting odds is the Warriors at +600. This evaluation makes sense because the Warriors championship squad from last year did not lose anybody significant in the offseason. The incident between Jordan Poole and Draymond Green is worth noting; a video of Warriors practice shows Draymond punching Poole. It seems they have resolved this issue, but underlying tensions could still affect the team. Tied for 2nd is the Celtics at +600. These odds make sense, as the Celtics have only improved since their finals run this past season. They have added key players, most notably Malcolm Brogdon. The Celtics took advantage of the Pacers starting a rebuild and traded for Brogdon for little cost. The Nets come in at number four at +700. Fair odds if both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving stay healthy all season. KD has missed many games the past two seasons and is only getting older, but when he is on the court, he is a top-five player. And Kyrie Irving is also a top-fifteen player when healthy. But just like KD, Kyrie misses a lot of games.
Another note about this NBA season is the strong group of rookies. Some notable ones are the first overall pick, Paolo Banchero. He got drafted to the Orlando Magic after he led the Duke Blue Devils to the Final Four. Banchero teams up with other young players like Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony on the Magic. The third pick in this year’s draft was Jabari Smith out of Auburn. Smith showed in college his ability to shoot and dominate in isolation situations. The fourth pick was Keegan Murray out of Iowa. The selection was a surprise on draft night as Jaden Ivey was projected to be drafted at four, but the Sacramento Kings took Murray instead. Keegan Murray showed his ability to score at Iowa, averaging 23.5 points per game. For reference, Banchero averaged 17.4ppg, and Jabari Smith averaged 16.9ppg. Jaden Ivey was the first guard taken off the board with the 5th pick to the Detroit Pistons. The Purdue star led the Boilermakers to a 3-seed in March Madness, but St. Peters cut their possible National Championship run short in the Sweet 16. Jaden Ivey plays a similar style to Ja Morant; both guards with decent shots but fantastic athleticism. There will be a fight for Rookie of the Year this season, and it could go to anybody. But one thing is for sure; basketball fans will get to watch some good basketball from young players this season.
One thing different about this NBA season is that we will see a lot more teams tanking due to the projected solid draft class coming up. Victor Wembanyama, a 7’4 center from France, is an 18-year-old who plays in a French basketball league. People rarely talk as much about an NBA prospect before the season starts as they have about Wembanyama, showing how much potential he has. What does all this mean? This means that top teams may have much better records than usual, and bad teams with much worse records than expected. The reason is that any team that does not think they will make the playoffs may decide to tank to try to get the next Lebron James.
In conclusion, we have an exciting NBA season ahead of us. The championship is anyone’s game, and we have a strong group of rookies to watch. It will also be interesting to see if teams start to tank to get Victor.