NBA 2023-24 Preview and Futures Odds: Is It the West’s Time Again?

By Chris Hughes   October 27, 2023 

NBA 2023-24 Preview and Futures Odds: Is It the West’s Time Again?

There are a couple of ways to look at the top NBA championship contenders when handicapping this year’s futures odds.

The top-two teams in the Eastern Conference have a better shot of reaching the NBA Finals. But you’re not going to get as good of odds. For the West, that side of the playoff grid may be more of a gauntlet. However, there’s value to be had–for the most part.

Before we examine the top contenders, let’s take a look at the NBA futures odds to start the season and the best price for each team.

2023-24 Futures Odds for NBA Championship

Boston Celtics+400 (Caesars)
Milwaukee Bucks+410 (FanDuel)
Denver Nuggets+550 (PointsBet)
Phoenix Suns+650 (BetMGM)
Los Angeles Lakers+1400 (BetRivers)
Golden State Warriors+1400 (UniBet)
Los Angeles Clippers+2400 (FanDuel)
Philadelphia 76ers+2800 (Caesars)
Dallas Mavericks+2800 (Caesars)
Miami Heat+3000 (BetMGM)
Cleveland Cavaliers+3000 (DraftKings)

In the NBA, a longshot typically does not win the championship. Last year, a combination of improbable playoff runs and the fact that oddsmakers forgot how good a healthy Jamal Murray was led to the Nuggets winning the NBA championship with +1800 odds to do so in the preseason. The defending champion Golden State Warriors had a down year. Phoenix struggled with chemistry and had little time to adapt to adding Kevin Durant. The Clippers–stop us if you’ve heard this before–struggled with injuries.

In the Eastern Conference, the 8-seed Miami Heat was a one-team wrecking crew behind Jimmy Butler, who perfected his hair game in the offseason.

Miami knocked out the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. After making quick work of the Knicks in round two, the Heat took out the 2-seed Boston Celtics in a Game 7 at TD Garden. Unfortunately for the C’s, it took them three games to get their act together. They then almost becoming the first team in NBA history to win a seven-game series after falling behind 3-0. But Miami persevered before being overmatched by Nikola Jokic and Murray in a five-game loss to the Nuggets.

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Offseason Recap: Milwaukee Making Moves

Boston is hoping that Jayson Tatum, who has reached superstar status, can get the Celtics over the top after two years of being oh so close. Denver isn’t messing with the formula that led them to dominating the playoffs. Jokic and Murray led the Nuggets to a 16-3 postseason record. The Lakers, Warriors, and Clippers largely are playing a pat hand. Philadelphia has a major question mark in James Harden.

After acquiring Durant during last season, Phoenix added another All-Star scorer to the mix in Bradley Beal. The Suns are banking on a full season of Durant and Beal playing with Devin Booker to equal postseason success. Phoenix made the NBA Finals in 2020-21 but were bounced in the second round in each of the past two years.

Milwaukee, stung by the first-round exit by Miami, isn’t messing around. The team re-upped with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Then, they shocked the NBA world by trading for another superstar, acquiring Damian Lillard from Portland while the preseason was already underway.

Is Betting on Milwaukee and Boston a Safe Bet?

Last year’s Eastern Conference playoffs showed that nothing is for sure. But this year, there is a marked difference between Boston and Milwaukee and the rest of the East.

Boston made an under-the-radar move by acquiring point guard Jrue Holiday. His championship pedigree with the Bucks replaces Marcus Smart. Kristaps Porzingis also joins the team. In theory, he will contribute alongside Al Horford, but he’s had trouble staying healthy his entire career.

Expect Antetokounmpo to be even more of a force on the defensive end with Lillard taking some of the pressure off on offense. Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez remain, but the depth isn’t the Bucks’ strong suit, so expect Giannis and Lillard to be managed as best as possible without drawing the ire of the NBA.

One thing to watch in a potential Eastern Conference Finals matchup between the teams is the coaching matchup. Adrian Griffin, a first-time head coach, replaces Mike Budenholzer, who was the fall guy in the 1-vs.-8 upset to the Heat last year. We saw first-year Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla appear severely overmatched in last year’s ECF to Miami’s veteran coach Erik Spoelstra.

Can Anyone in the Deep West Challenge Denver?

From a one-game sample size, the answer appears to be no. In a rematch of the Western Conference Finals that saw Denver sweep the Lakers, the Nuggets played their usual game–meaning a triple-double by Jokic in a comfortable win–to open the season against LA after raising their first-ever championship banner.

Denver’s path is likely to be tougher than Boston or Milwaukee’s, but we like the Nuggets at +550 to repeat. Jokic and Murray are players that appear to be low maintenance and will put the good of the team ahead of their individual performances. That bodes well for stability and continued success.

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