After the Golden State Warriors took the NBA Championship in 2022, it was back to the drawing board for the rest of the league. As usual during the offseason a few prominent players moved teams. But in many other situations superstars who hinted at moving ended up staying put.

That’s the backdrop to the 2022-2023 NBA season, which starts on October 18th, 2022. For fans who can’t wait that long, preseason action kicks off on September 30th.

Heading into the new campaign, sports bettors are starting to look at the league’s likely contenders. And it might be the perfect time to find value in futures betting with so many unknowns and the odds still high for many teams. Let’s see if we can distinguish between the contenders and pretenders for the upcoming NBA season.

NBA Championship Futures Odds

The top 10 predicted contenders for the 2022-2023 title include many of the usual suspects, plus a couple of surprises. Here are the odds on the top 10:

Celtics +500
Warriors +600
Nets +750
Bucks +750
Clippers +800
Suns +1000
76ers +1600
Heat +1600
Lakers +1600
Grizzlies +2000

The Contenders

As part of trying to identify the real contenders, handicappers should start by looking at personnel changes that may impact a team’s ability to compete. The reality is nothing significant really sticks out yet in this department. With big names like Russell Westbrook and James Harden standing pat, most teams are going with familiar faces.

One noteworthy exception is both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert parted ways with the Utah Jazz. That might leave the perennial contender for the Western Conference title on the outside looking in.

A Look at the Eastern Conference

Starting with the Eastern Conference, the conference defending champ Boston Celtics are favored to repeat. They are also favored to get over the hump and win yet another NBA Championship.

The core group of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart look formidable. They did add a quality piece in G Malcolm Brogdon, who comes over from the Indiana Pacers. If Al Horford, a 15-year veteran, can keep contributing in the middle, the Celtics could well repeat, barring a significant injury.

To compete, the Brooklyn Nets picked up former 76ers guard Ben Simmons. With Kyrie Irving and Joe Harris set at the guard positions, Simmons will be moved to the power-forward position alongside Kevin Durant. It’s a big addition if Simmons can squelch his attitude issues and start playing with more consistency.

The Milwaukee Bucks are only one season removed from an NBA Championship. They struggled last year with Khris Middleton spending a lot of time on the bench with injuries. If he stays healthy, this team can compete.

Both the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers are highly rated in the East, but one gets the feeling they lack the firepower to compete with the very best in the Conference.

A Look at the Western Conference

The Western Conference starts with the defending NBA Champ Golden State Warriors. They come into this season with the same core group that dominated in the playoffs last year. The key difference being Klay Thompson will be occupying his place in the starting lineup to begin the season. Bettors will want to note he missed the first four months of last season.

While the core group is filled with veterans, that second tier comprises talented youngsters who can play ball. If center James Wiseman develops his potential, look out NBA.

The big question in the Western Conference is what to do with the Los Angeles Lakers. They were, at times, horrible in an injury-plagued 2021-2022 season. Can they rebound behind the threesome of Lebron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis?

It’s a chemistry issue. If Westbrook can set aside his ego, this might well be the only team that can challenge the Warriors out West. The additions of Thomas Bryant, Dennis Schroder, and defensive-specialist Patrick Beverly create a good supporting cast.

Honestly, the Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies, and Dallas Mavericks have talent but might not be up to par with the Warriors and Lakers. At least not yet.


All signs point West again. Equal future odds wagers on the Warriors at +600 and the Lakers at +1600 look like a solid endeavor. These veteran teams might well have one more big season left, meaning younger teams will have to wait another year.