AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR PREVIEW: NBA Championship 2021/22

After an NBA finals match-up between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns that nobody had predicted, it was the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Bucks who went on to win their first NBA Championship since 1971 writes DAN BUTLER from The Greek Freak led the way, winning Finals MVP and averaging 35.2 PPG (Points per Game), 13.2 RPG (Rebounds per Game) and 5 APG (Assists per Game) to cap off one of the all-time great individual post-season runs.

Despite finally winning a chip, and the fact that they managed to keep the core of talent that led them to glory last season, it’s not Milwaukee who head up the betting for the NBA Championship next season…

NBA Championship Outright Betting

That honour instead goes to the Brooklyn Nets (23/10) who will be hoping that their trio of superstars will see them through the Eastern Conference next season and onto a Championship. Injuries last season meant that we never got to see Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving in full flow together, but this season they appear to be the team to stop. With valuable role players such as Joe Harris and a rejuvenated Blake Griffin still on the roster, it’s tough to see who’s got the defensive flexibility to deal with the Nets.

The Los Angeles Lakers (10/3) appear to be best equipped, however. Any time you have the second greatest player of all time on your roster, you stand a chance, but LeBron James will need an all-time great defensive season from fellow superstar Anthony Davis to have a hope of stopping the Nets. The acquisition of Russell Westbrook has added a lot of speed to a traditionally slow offense, but there are still major question marks over the Lakers’ perimeter shooting. That may well be their downfall as they go deeper into the playoffs.

It’s Milwaukee (17/2) who the market has deemed third favourites this season, but there might well be value elsewhere in the market if the frontrunners don’t take your fancy. The Golden State Warriors (11/1) will fancy themselves to be in the mix with the returning Klay Thompson taking some of the load off Stephen Curry, that shooting backcourt remains the best in the history of the sport, and they’ll be a tough out for any Western Conference team that faces them. It’s also worth highlighting the Philadelphia 76ers (18/1) who are still looking for a blockbuster trade to offload wantaway star Ben Simmons. If that happens, and the Sixers can get a decent return in the trade, they could be excellent value at 18s, especially if Joel Embiid can stay healthy.

Most Valuable Player (MVP) Betting

The Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic (4/1) heads up the Regular Season MVP betting this year, and for good reason too. Since bursting onto the scene as a 19-year-old, Doncic has drawn comparisons with some of the NBA’s greatest ever players. His scoring and playmaking make the Mavericks – even with a poor supporting cast – a frightening proposition on any given night. The issue is that the MVP award often rewards winning, and there’s no guarantee the Mavericks even make the playoffs this season. That in itself makes other players more attractive bets in the MVP race.

Kevin Durant (7/1) and James Harden (22/1) both deserve a mention, but their downfall might be the fact they’ll be sharing the scoring significantly with Kyrie Irving, meaning none of the trio have an outstanding season, pair that with nights where they’ll inevitably be rested, and they appear to be ones to swerve on this occasion.

The value, therefore, might well come from Giannis Antetokounmpo (7/1) once again. The Bucks will rely heavily on their superstar again this season, and his other-worldly defensive play means voters will be able to justify the selection as he has a significant impact on the game at both ends of the floor.

Keep an eye out for Stephen Curry (15/2) and Nikola Jokic (14/1) too, who will be expected to lead the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets respectively. The latter will be forced to shoulder a lot of the offensive burden for Denver as they prepare for life without Point Guard Jamal Murray until March/April. Don’t count out a back-to-back MVP winner as a result, with Jokic’s numbers exploding in Murray’s absence.

Team Specials and Rookie of the Year betting

Whilst the 76ers could be considered a potential outside shout for the title, it’s also worth considering the alternate timeline in which they either can’t find a trade for Simmons and are stuck with a disgruntled player or are forced to trade for cents on the dollar as their leverage plummets. Either of these outcomes leave the Sixers considerably weaker this season, and it might be worth considering the under 50.5 wins offered by Star (10/11). Philly haven’t broken 50 wins since 2018/19.

Cade Cunningham (12/5) leads the Rookie of the Year betting, and for good reason too. The Detroit Pistons’ newest star, and potential franchise cornerstone for years to come, appears to have all the tools to be a scoring machine in the league. Cunningham looks NBA-ready, and won’t need the same time to find his feet as others in the market. Importantly he can do it on both ends too, his 3-point shooting is outstanding, but he’s also active on defence, always looking to disrupt in the passing lanes.

The Toronto Raptors’ Scottie Barnes (10/1) might well provide the value elsewhere in the betting. Whilst it was a surprise to some to see him picked as high as he went, Barnes has the potential to be a future Defensive Player of the Year. His combination of long arms and speed will make him a nightmare match up for guards around the league. His downfall could well be his scoring, especially from beyond the arc, but if he can develop some sort of interior scoring game then Barnes could be a dark horse in the ROTY betting.

BACK Billy Donovan to win Coach of the Year 2pts at  ? CLICK PRICE TO BET with
BACK Chicago Bulls over 42.5 Regular Season Wins 4pts at  ? CLICK PRICE TO BET with
BACK Memphis Grizzles under 41.5 Regular Season Wins 4pts at ? CLICK PRICE TO BET with

⚠️ Stakes advised on a scale of 0-10 points depending on confidence from our preview team

(Current ante-post recommendations CLICK HERE)