Let's face it, the NBA is not a league with much parity. The simple truth is that only four or five teams can actually win a title during any given year, and lower-seeded squads that squeak into the postseason rarely make a Cinderella-type run. One player can be the difference between winning or losing and a superstar talent can impact the final outcome of a game or series in a way that cannot be matched by any other sport.
Betting on NBA futures odds is top heavy. There is almost no point to scouring lines for long-shot value because basketball isn't a necessarily a team sport the way football is. The transcendent players typically win titles. The 2015 NBA season is only a few days away, so let's throw out the bottom teams and focus on the top of the heap and figure out which squads are being over or under valued or properly rated heading into the season.
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Cleveland Cavaliers : +280: Properly Rated: The Cavaliers may not necessarily be the best team in the NBA, but the biggest reason why they are the 2015 title favorites is because of the fact that the squad plays in a notoriously-weak Eastern Conference. The title contenders out west will have to knock each other off early in the playoffs, while Cleveland's road to the finals is a straight shot to the promised land. LeBron James nearly beat Golden State by himself last season, and "The King" is most likely on course for a sixth-consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.
San Antonio Spurs : +400: Overrated: San Antonio is one of those teams that should never be counted out. The organization is run to perfection from top to bottom and any time the Spurs are title contenders there is value. San Antonio, however, was bumped to the top of the Western Conference futures odds list based on its offseason acquisitions-which were huge, by the way. The question that remains to be seen is whether or not Coach Gregg Popovich can incorporate LaMarcus Aldridge and David West into an already-proven system without complicating things. The Spurs went "big" when the rest of the NBA is going "small," and the move could either be genius or madness. San Antonio could be great, it's just too early to tell.
Golden State Warriors : +500: Underrated: The Warriors are underrated for the simple fact that they are coming off a title win and a historically-great season and are not even the favorites to win their own conference. Anytime you can get a defending champion returning its core of players, while still receiving the third-best title odds in the league, there will be value. For a quick reference, the year after the Chicago Bulls produced an NBA-best 72-10 record, they followed up that unbelievablerun with another title and a 69-win season. And just in case you forgot, GSW coach Steve Kerr played on both of those teams.
Oklahoma City Thunder : +800: Overrated: The Thunder may have sealed their title fate with that still-controversial James Harden trade a few seasons ago. This group may be remembered with other historic squads like Karl Malone's Utah Jazz and Steve Nash's Phoenix Suns that could never get over the "hump" and actually win an NBA title. This season may be the Oklahoma City's last shot at title glory since Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will soon be free agents. The main factor in OKC's title odds being overrated, however, is the fact that foot injuries are hard to overcome and Durant may never return to his normal MVP self. Another deep postseason run isn't a given for the Thunder.
Los Angeles Clippers : +1300: Properly Rated: Los Angeles added quite a few pieces to the roster that should help address the team's biggest issues of quality role players coming off the bench. The team, however, will have to address the demons of a blown 3-1 series lead against Houston and figure out a way to rebuild mentally. The Clippers have all the ingredients to make a title run-an excellent coach, experienced players, three-point shooting, and superstar players-but the curse of being "A Clipper" may just be too much to overcome. Los Angeles should be a serious title contender, but windows lose quickly in the NBA.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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