The 2022 NBA season kicks off on Tuesday, October 18, kicking off what should be the highest-stakes professional basketball campaign in history. Sports betting is now legal in 34 states plus Washington DC, while the NBA continues to increase in popularity each year. You may not be ready to bet on individual games just yet, as a lot can change between now and the start of the regular season. But now is the perfect time to place your future bets, especially for the 2022-23 NBA Finals champion.
John Schuhmann and NBA.com recently released the annual NBA General Manager Survey, which always provides interesting insights from some of the most knowledgeable minds in the game. Among the most striking results of the survey, 43 percent of general managers chose the Milwaukee Bucks (+650) to win it all this season. The defending champion Warriors (+600) got the second most votes (25%), just ahead of the defending Eastern Conference champion Celtics (+575), who received 21 percent of the vote. The Clippers (+675) were the only other team featured, earning 11 percent of GM’s vote.
That is as confusing as the executives make it out to be. All four of those teams are the consensus top four at Caesars and most other sportsbook futures odds boards. Rounding out the top five at Caesars, the Nets (+800) are the only team under +1000 that didn’t make the GMs’ first championship picks.
Of course, countless general managers — and pundits, analysts, writers and commentators — get their final picks wrong each year. The eventual NBA Finals champions could easily be off the shortlist right now, as we’ve seen so often in recent history.
Let’s take a look at Caesars Sportsbook’s full odds table for the 2023 NBA Finals and then talk about the contenders before finally making our selections.
2023 NBA Finals Odds
NBA Finals 2023: an open race?
We already talked about the top five favorites and will discuss them more shortly. Outside of the top five, the Suns (+1,300) always lurk as contenders and have been to the Finals the last two years. The 76ers (+1,400) got better this offseason, and a full year of healthy Joel Embiid and James Harden could destroy the NBA. The Nuggets (+1600) also improved, putting up much-needed shooting and depth around consecutive MVP Nikola Jokic.
We cannot leave out the elder statesmen. The Lakers (+1800) still have two of the best players in the world in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and could win their second championship in four seasons with some health. The Heat (+2200), who lost to the Lakers in the 2020 Finals, also have an excellent core of veterans led by two-way stud Jimmy Butler.
Then there are the young males, which should never be discarded. The Grizzlies (+2000) stomped the league behind emerging superstar Ja Morant last season, and they could take another step forward. Perennial MVP candidate Luka Doncic and the Mavericks (+2700) upgraded their frontcourt during the offseason, which made the superstar’s life that much easier. The Pelicans (+2800) have Zion looking fit and focused. The Cavaliers (+3,000) added Donovan Mitchell to a group that already made a lot of noise last season. The Timberwolves (+3500) put together a massive package to plug Ruby Gobert in her one stunning hole.
Even the fringe teams in the NBA have a lot of promise. The Raptors (+4500) are packed with talent and excellent coaching. The Hawks (+5,000) added Dejounte Murray to a backcourt already enjoying long-range killer Trae Young. The Bulls (+7,000) have a scoring tandem of DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine, not to mention multiple key players. Even the surprisingly deep Blazers (+12,500) have a chance if Damian Lillard can stay healthy for a full season.
Without further ado, let’s break down our best bets, best sleepers, and favorite long shots to win the 2023 NBA Finals.
NBA Finals 2023: best bets
Boston Celtics (+575)
The Celtics had a relatively easy road to the NBA Finals last summer, but ultimately lost to a hotter, more focused and more experienced Warriors team. In the offseason, general manager Brad Stevens did an incredible job of addressing the weaknesses Boston showed in the championship round, primarily in ball handling, depth and outside shooting. The Celts instead acquired Malcolm Brogdon, a versatile guard with playmaking skills who could easily land the Sixth Man award this season. They also added sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari, although an ACL injury suffered during the FIBA World Cup could rule him out of the regular season. Another key offseason acquisition was Blake Griffin, who will provide veteran leadership and some rebounding for this young (and sometimes small) team. The key questions: Will the C’s play as well under interim coach Joe Mazzulla as they did under embarrassed coach Ime Udoka, who is suspended for the season? And will center Robert Williams (knee) return with the full force of him, or will Boston once again ask too much of veteran great Al Horford? We know what we’ll get from Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart at this point: suffocating defense and smart, often effortless offensive creation. However, it is the ‘others’ who will make or break Boston’s streak at banner No. 18 this season. We bet they make it happen and finally get over the hurdle for the first time since the Piece/Garnett era.
Los Angeles Clippers (+675)
The Clippers are a fascinating team from top to bottom, and they will be extremely difficult to beat at full strength. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, like Tatum and Brown, are easily among the top wing tandems at the pro hoop. And they’re packed with smart shooters, screen defenders, playmakers and veterans. John Wall was a fantastic addition to a team that has consistently relied on Reggie Jackson to run the point, and be the go-to scorer, at key moments over the past year and a half. Isaiah Hartenstein’s departure to the Knicks takes a toll on the depth of the Los Angeles bigs, but don’t be surprised if this team wins a lot of games with a small lineup. One of the common denominators of recent NBA champions has been depth, and the Clips are arguably the deepest team in the NBA. Fingers crossed they stay out of the long-term injury report.
Other big bets: Milwaukee Bucks (+650), Golden State Warriors (+600)
2023 NBA Finals: Highest Value Picks
Philadelphia 76ers (+1400)
With James Harden seemingly fit and Joel Embiid as hungry and angry as ever, watch out for the 76ers lurking in the field of fringe contenders. Philadelphia has strong young talent around its superstar duo: Tyrese Maxey continues to evolve as a scorer, Matisse Thybulle is the league’s most underrated perimeter defender and offseason addition De’Anthony Melton is better at both ends of the floor. than most people believe. . Philadelphia also brought in veteran puncher and defensive master PJ Tucker, who finds himself another contender and continues to serve as the 2020 version of Robert Horry. Also a three-corner shooter who takes down, Tucker will take some of the offensive pressure off Tobias Harris. Montrezl Harrell will also provide some bench scores and plenty of hustle points. Don’t sleep on Philly: This team is more than capable of winning it all.
Memphis Grizzlies (+2000)
How can the Grizzlies be listed at +2000 just a few months after they swept NBA Earth in the 2021-22 season? This is a team that has all the necessary components of an NBA champion: great offense led by a superstar scorer in Ja Morant, great outside shooting led by Desmond Bane, great defense from all positions and great coaching. . We don’t understand how more time and experience make the Grizzlies less equipped to contend for a title, but we’ll gladly accept these generous odds.
Other solid values: Phoenix Suns (+1300), Miami Heat (+2200)
NBA Finals 2023: Favorite Long Shots
Cleveland Cavaliers (+3000)
Everyone loves the addition of Donovan Mitchell, perhaps the final piece of the puzzle for an incredible starting five that features 2021-22 Rookie of the Year runner-up Evan Mobley and All-Stars Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen. Questions remain about the depth of this team, and who will primarily fill their small forward spot, but this team seems more than capable of making some noise in the here and now.
Minnesota Timberwolves (+3500)
Another squad that bet everything on a missing piece, the Wolves shipped a monster amount of assets to Utah this offseason to land highly coveted multiple DPOY winner Rudy Gobert. Minnesota now has a king of the board and a rim protector in addition to Karl Anthony-Towns, the game’s best big-man shooter, and emerging superstar Anthony Edwards. You won’t find much value outside of the +2200 range, but this Wolves squad could be worth a modest bet should everything click.
Other potential long-term contenders: Dallas Mavericks (+2,700), Toronto Raptors (+4,500), Atlanta Hawks (+5,000)