NBA free agency began at 6pm ET on Sunday, June 30. 24 hours later, the balance of power in the league is unrecognizable.
For starters, the Nets made a power move, Jimmy Butler switched teams again, and the Celtics decided to swap star point guards.
You can read about the whirlwind of transactions that went down, here. I don’t want to focus on the moves themselves, but rather how these moves affect the 2020 NBA Championship odds.
Overnight, the NBA has transformed from a league whose champion was practically known before the season began to a league in which 6 or 8 teams have a legitimate shot at the title.
After the NBA Finals and prior to free agency, Oddsshark reported the following top-5 leaderboard for the 2020 Finals odds:
A turbulent first day of signings and deals has led the Bovada NBA Championship odds to have a new top 5:
There are still major pieces yet to fall … like Kawhi Leonard. Will Kawhi join LeBron and AD in LA, stay in the North, or play for a ring elsewhere? No one knows.
Already on July 1, free agency has turned a couple of teams into contenders while extinguishing all hope from others. Let’s take a look.
Biggest Winners from First Day of NBA Free Agency
Brooklyn Nets – From +2500 to +1800
It is impossible to bring up NBA free agency without talking about how the Brooklyn Nets set themselves up for success by signing in one night Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, and the injured Kevin Durant.
Durant is likely to miss the entire 2019-20 season with his Achilles injury, but the Nets were already a 6-seed in the East last year – they do not need a ton of extra help breaking into the top echelon of the East.
Adding Irving and Jordan turn the Nets into a potential 3 or 4-seed for 2019-20. Add a healthy Kevin Durant to that lineup in 2020-21 and the Nets easily become the Eastern Conference favorites.
The entire basketball world is awaiting that inevitable Lakers-Nets Finals matchup in June of 2021.
Until then, bettors can get +1600 on Brooklyn to win the 2020 NBA Finals at MyBookie. Bovada is offering the best Nets odds at +1800.
The Nets could have a difficult time navigating the suddenly stacked Eastern Conference Playoffs next year unless KD comes back earlier than expected from injury. I have both Milwaukee and Philly finishing ahead of Brooklyn, with Boston and even Miami and Indiana also in the mix for the 3-seed.
Miami Heat – From +35000 to +10000
The Heat added star forward Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade and then dealt 30-year-old big man Hassan Whiteside to the Blazers for younger talent in Moe Harkless and Miles Leonard.
After bouncing around on teams that forced Butler to take a back seat to another established star, Jimmy is back to being the top dog. Look for the trade to rejuvenate the 29-year-old scorer.
I believe that Butler’s contributions added to Miami’s developing prospects will be enough to get the Heat into contention for the 3 or 4 seed. Playing in the weakest division in basketball won’t hurt Miami’s seeding, either.
Also slightly influencing my Heat endorsement is the report that Miami is looking to trade for Wizards’ guard Bradley Beal. Adding another shooter to play alongside Butler would make Miami a dangerous team.
The best odds for the Miami Heat to win the 2020 NBA Championship are on 5Dimes. You can still get +25000 odds! That’s $250 to $1!
Philadelphia 76’ers – From +1800 to +1200
The two thorns in the side of Philly for the past couple of years have been Boston and Toronto. The Raptors might lose their superstar and be unable to compete with the Sixers next season.
As for Boston, Philly took things into their own hands when they stole veteran big man Al Horford away from the Celtics.
That Butler guy who Philly traded away – the Sixers got young shooting guard Josh Richardson in return. With a starting 5 of Simmons, Richardson, Harris, Horford, and Embiid – the Eastern Conference better watch out.
Toronto will only be able to beat Philly again if Kawhi stays. The only team standing between the 76’ers and a spot in the 2020 NBA Finals is the Milwaukee Bucks.
If you would like to bet on the 76’ers to win the 2020 NBA Finals, you will find the best odds at Bovada (+1200).
Indiana Pacers – From +8000 to +4000
Earning the 5-seed in the East last season before being swept by Boston in the first round, the Pacers were never seriously a contender for the Eastern Conference title.
Keeping their roster intact while getting back from injury star scorer Victor Olapido would already put Indiana in contention for the East – and then they added two more pieces.
The Pacers traded for Bucks’ guard Malcolm Brogdon, a player who is said to fit perfectly in Indiana. This trade then allowed the Pacers to entice former Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb into signing.
Indiana has added 3 strong players to a roster which already managed to finish 5th in the conference without them. I am high on this team heading into 2019-20.
Bovada is currently showing the best Pacers 2020 championship odds at +8000. Intentional or not, Bovada has not adjusted Indiana’s line like most other books.
Los Angeles Lakers
Although the Lakers have become the 2020 favorite, it was not because of a move made on June 30th. The Lakers became the favorite after they traded for Anthony Davis back on June 17th.
Biggest Losers from First Day of NBA Free Agency
Golden State Warriors – From +200 to +1100
The Dubs resigned Klay Thompson to a long-term deal, but that move did little for Golden State’s 2020 championship hopes as he is out for most the 2019-20 season with a torn ACL.
Just when it appeared the dynasty had fallen … Golden State made a bold move – nabbing D’Angelo Russell from Brooklyn. This gives the Warriors a core of Russell, former-MVP Steph Curry, and point forward Draymond Green.
The valuable, defensive-minded veteran Andre Iguodala has been dealt away and KD is now in Brooklyn. The fates of centers DeMarcus Cousins and Kevon Looney are currently both uncertain.
The Warriors are no longer the commanders of the NBA. Golden State will still make the playoffs next year, maybe even as a high seed, but without KD they will have a tough time getting past the fearsome fivesome of the Lakers, Rockets, Thunder, Nuggets, and Jazz.
Milwaukee Bucks – From +400 to +650
Yes, the Bucks are my pick to come out of the East next year. Their inaction during this free agent frenzy is allowing other teams to catch up.
Milwaukee kept their team together when they locked in Khris Middleton long-term but then traded Malcolm Brogdon for mere draft picks. These picks will be valuable down the road, but this trade weakens the Bucks’ lineup for the 2019-20 season.
Brogdon was an excellent shooter and a lockdown defensive player who helped hoist the Bucks to the top of the East. His presence will be missed in the Milwaukee backcourt.
The returning core of Giannis, Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Eric Bledsoe will be enough to keep the Bucks neck-and-neck with Philadelphia for supremacy in the East. With Brogdon, the Deer would be clear favorites.
Bettors can find the best odds for betting the Bucks to win the 2020 NBA Championship at MyBookie (+700).
Washington Wizards – No Change
The Wizards have been a middling team in the East for years. John Wall was once a rising star and is now an above-average playmaker at best – not even the best guard on his team.
The Wizards lack a star player who can take over a game as their roster is loaded with good role players only. Adding a star offensive scorer would enable the Wizards to make some noise in the East next year.
Kevin Durant fits the bill of star scorer. Washington used to be rumored a potential destination for KD as the Wizards are his hometown team. KD instead chose Brooklyn.
The Wizards did not necessarily need KD, but they needed to make a big splash if they wanted to contend for anything in the near future. Instead, the Wizards stood passively by, signing two marginal guards.
Washington was either going to buy a star to contend or initiate a rebuild with their actions on June 30th. They did not buy a star, and now the Wizards are reportedly shopping Bradley Beal.
On a day that many teams in the East made winning a championship a real possibility, the Wizards front office steered the club toward a rebuild.
New York Knicks – From +1500 to +4000
Poor poor Knicks.
The Knicks were in line to receive a top-2 pick and add either Zion Williamson or Ja Morant to their roster, but that didn’t happen. The Knicks were supposedly the front runners to land Irving and Durant, but that didn’t happen, either.
Instead, the Knicks’ crosstown rivals are enjoying the optimism that comes with landing not one but two star players on the first day of free agency.
With major pieces yet to land, be sure to keep your ear close to the ground. Act quickly if you like the futures odds on a team. The NBA landscape can change in an instant this time of year.
See you on top!