Nets Are Favorites Without Kyrie, With Lakers, Bucks, Warriors Up Next
The Brooklyn Nets can win a championship without Kyrie Irving. In fact, they are still given the best chance to be the last team standing in the 2021-22 NBA season, even though the All-Star guard might not play all year.
Days before Opening Night, the Nets lead the way as +250 favorites to win the NBA Finals, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Those odds put Brooklyn well ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers (+400), who are the Western Conference favorites with the second-best championship odds in basketball.
The Nets are viewed as the best team in the Eastern Conference by a wide margin. The defending champion Milwaukee Bucks (+650) have nearly three times the title odds of Brooklyn. The Nets have +120 odds to win the East, followed by the Bucks at +300.
Kevin Durant and James Harden give Brooklyn the East’s best duo. Before Giannis Antetokounmpo won the 2021 NBA Finals MVP award, the Greek Freak was outplayed by Durant in the second round of the playoffs. With Irving missing four games and Harden hampered by a hamstring injury, Durant nearly carried the Nets past the Bucks, falling just short in a Game 7 overtime loss.
Durant averaged 34.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.5 steals in 12 playoff games for the Nets. Harden garnered brief MVP buzz after he was traded to Brooklyn and averaged 24.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 10.9 assists and 1.3 steals in 36 games as a Net.
Brooklyn’s three stars only played eight games together during last year’s regular season. The Nets still won two-thirds of their games and finished one victory shy of the East’s best record.
Irving won’t practice or play with the Nets as long as he remains unvaccinated against COVID-19 and New York City’s vaccine mandate stays in place. It’s possible that Irving could change his stance during the season. Brooklyn could potentially trade Irving to a team that plays in a city which would allow him to compete in home games.
With Irving off the Nets’ roster, the Lakers have the NBA’s top trio in LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. There are questions regarding how well those stars can play together at the same time. Los Angeles is only 12 months removed from winning the 2020 NBA Finals in the league’s bubble.
In the preseason, the Golden State Warriors (+1200) have the second-best odds to win the 2022 NBA Finals. Klay Thompson is set to return from injury at some point in the first half of the regular season. The last time Thompson was on the court, he was playing in his fifth straight NBA Finals alongside Stephen Curry and Draymond Green in Golden State.
The Utah Jazz (+1400), Phoenix Suns (+1500) and Los Angeles Clippers (+1600) are the only other teams with better than 20/1 title odds.