NBA Championship 2023/24: Who Are the Early Frontrunners?

Which team will follow the Denver Nuggets in the NBA history books?

Nuggets NBA Finals

Anticipation is on the rise ahead of what promises to be another exhilarating NBA campaign. The Denver Nuggets dropped just four games in last season’s all-time great playoff run, but where do they stack up in the odds to retain their title?

Will a Champion Rise in the East?

Since Michael Jordan’s last dance with the Chicago Bulls in 1998, the league has largely been dominated by the West. Tied with reigning champions Denver, the Boston Celtics are priced as the Eastern Conference’s best bet to take back the crown. In the betting odds on basketball, they are 9/2 favourites to claim a first ring since 2008, one that would see them move ahead of the LA Lakers as the most decorated NBA franchise in history. 

The Celtics lost out in the Conference Final against the Miami Heat last season. Despite fighting back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the series, it was a Jimmy Butler masterclass that secured Boston’s fate. However, the Celtics will be back with a vengeance. Jayson Tatum’s 30-point average earned him a spot in the All-NBA 1st Team, while a respectable 26-point average saw Jaylen Brown included in the 2nd Team. There aren’t many – if any – more talented duos in the league, and backed up by a strong squad, they’ll be out for blood.

Coming in just short of Boston is last season’s Eastern Conference table-toppers Milwaukee. The Bucks have finished in the top three in the East for five consecutive seasons but have only been able to turn that into one championship. Two-time MVP and seven-time NBA All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo will be confident in another successful season, especially with two NBA All-Defensive stars Brook Lopez and Jrue Holiday holding it down at the other end of the court.

At 11/2, there is some each-way value in the Bucks, as calculated by the Betfair Bet Calculator. A £5 each-way bet on Milwaukee would return nearly £90 if the Bucks win their third championship.

Denver Nuggets Back-to-Back

Teams from the Western Conference have dominated since the turn of the millennium, winning the championship in 16 of the 24 seasons since. The Denver Nuggets are the latest franchise looking to assert their dominance in the league after cruising to victory last season.

They put together one of the best playoff runs ever to secure their first ring, spearheaded by the main man Nikola Jokic. The 6ft 11” behemoth rightfully earned the title of Finals MVP, averaging more points (30.2) and rebounds (14) than any other player, as well as registering 7.2 assists per game in the finals. ‘The Joker’ will be hoping to lead his team to back-to-back championships, and he is the main reason the Nuggets are 9/2 to go all the way, and an incredible 1/80 to make the playoffs in 2024.

Looking for an Outside Shot

It’s never easy picking a champion before the season starts. Basketball is a dynamic and unpredictable game, highlighted by the fact the last five seasons have all seen different teams crowned champions.

However, there will be a few outside picks generating some traction. All eyes will be on Steph Curry after the Golden State Warriors crashed out in the Conference Semi-Finals following a 6th-place finish in the Western Conference. As proven time and time again, you can never bet against Curry, and the Warriors are 9/1 to claim the championship.

Don’t forget about the LA Lakers. There will be plenty that fancy LeBron James to have one last run at the championship. Even after an injury-plighted campaign, the Lakers made it to the Conference Finals, falling short at the hands of eventual champions Denver. If LBJ and Anthony Davis can stay fit for the season, or even just toward the back end of the campaign, the pair have the star power to drag the 9/1 Lakers to their 18th championship.

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