The Los Angeles Lakers went from missing the playoffs in 2019 to winning it all this season, and oddsmakers have installed them as the team to beat again in 2021.
The Lakers, who finished off the Miami Heat on Sunday to win the franchise's 17th NBA championship, are listed at the favorites at +375 to win next season's title at William Hill U.S. sportsbooks. The LA Clippers are next at +400, followed by the Milwaukee Bucks at +550 and Golden State Warriors at +800.
After missing last season's playoffs, the Lakers could be found at around 20-1 at some sportsbooks entering the summer. But their odds improved rapidly with the addition of forward Anthony Davis to go along with LeBron James. By time the season tipped off, the Lakers were the consensus favorites, and bettors were on board.
At William Hill U.S. sportsbooks, more bets were placed and more money wagered on the Lakers to win the NBA championship than any other team.
"Hats off to the bettors on this one, they bet [the Lakers] from the beginning," said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill U.S. "They identified them, thought [Davis] would be the missing piece and it looks like they were right."
The Lakers were favored in each of their 21 games in the playoffs.
"We had some really big decisions on them through the entire playoffs," Bogdanovich added.
While this offseason is unique, due to the shift in the schedule caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it's not expected to feature as much star-power relocating as last summer did when Davis went to the Lakers, Kawhi Leonard bolted Toronto to join the Clippers and Kevin Durant left Golden State for the Brooklyn Nets.
Durant missed all of the 2019-20 season because of an Achilles injury but is expected back next season to team with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. The Nets are 10-1 to win next year's championship, followed by the Boston Celtics at 12-1.
Golden State guard Klay Thompson is also expected to return from injury after missing all of last season, which has boosted the Warriors into the top tier of oddsboards.
While the Lakers were among the favorites all season, their Finals opponent, the Miami Heat, were not. Miami entered the season a 100-1 to win the title. The Heat are 15-1 to win next year's title.