Which NBA Team Will Dethrone the Warriors First? Our NBA Experts Make Their Predictions
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kyrie Irving (11), LeBron James (23), Kawhi Leonard (2).
- The Golden State Warriors, winners of two consecutive titles and three of the past four, are the odds-on favorite to win the 2019 NBA title (what else is new?).
- Our experts breakdown when the Warriors will be dethroned and the teams -- 76ers? Celtics? Lakers? -- that are likeliest to do the dethroning.
The Golden State Warriors are currently -150 over the field to win this year’s NBA title. They’ve already cemented their legacy as one of the league’s best dynasties, but even Rome eventually fell.
We gathered several of our NBA analysts to discuss when the next non-Warriors championship will come — and which team will win it. There are no odds in the betting market for such questions, so we created our own!
Without further ado, here are the biggest NBA futures questions and our thoughts on the answers.
When will the next non-Warriors champion come?
- Before 2020-21 season: -200
- 2020-21 season or later: +200
World Wide Wob: 2020-21 season or later (+200)
I’m getting +200 on my money that Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are coming back? Thank you very much.
I think the Chase Center opening getting delayed to 2019 was a coup this entire time. Funny how it just so happens to open its doors the same season Klay and Durant will face free agency.
There will be major intrigue to play there with all those Silicon Valley titans sitting court side every night. Pass me the tin foil hat, because the Hampton’s Five isn’t going anywhere.
Matt Moore: 2020-21 season or later (+200)
Let’s assume that the Warriors don’t combust in a fiery chemical disaster between Draymond Green and Durant. They win the title this year. The Celtics will be better than they are now, but have too much stuff to figure out in the same year they have to figure out how to beat the Warriors. There’s probably a learning curve.
So it’s 2019-20. This is where the rubber meets the road. If Durant leaves, the Warriors return the core three members of the original team. They’ll reconfigure around them and have at least a puncher’s chance, considering how motivated they’ll be to prove a point to Durant and the world.
A motivated Warriors team is terrifying. Durant stays, they stay on top. And going forward, this is when the conversation about Anthony Davis will really heat up. The Warriors can make a deal for him involving Green or Klay Thompson, and then return to the very top.
I get all these outcomes and the wider range of possible additions joining up, or DeMarcus Cousins getting healthier than any Achilles tear victim before him. And I’m getting plus money on it.
Yeah, I’ll bet on the longest run of titles since Jordan, thanks.
Ken Barkley: Before 2020-21 season (-200)
For almost the entire run of this Warriors dynasty (and specifically all last season), it always seemed to me like the dynasty ending after this year was the most logical path.
That’s not just because I still think Kevin Durant (or Draymond) is gone after this year, and Klay is a free agent (who wants to stay), but also because everyone just gets old and tired of each other in ANY environment like this. Eventually the fatigue shows, and this team will have played more games than just about anyone ever over this time span.
Now, I have to bet this knowing I don’t really even get this year as a possibility (the Warriors are still winning this year a really high percentage of the time), but every NBA team has been planning with the idea that this summer and the subsequent season is when they should begin putting their best teams together. The league as a whole is building to a passing of the torch, and there are enough teams close enough to where I think it could happen.
Bryan Mears: Before 2020-21 season (-200)
The Warriors are the most likely team to win the next two titles, but I still think there’s value on this side given the uncertainty of next season.
Bobby Marks of ESPN recently wrote a piece showing that a ridiculous 49% of the NBA could be free agents this upcoming July. That list includes current Durant, along with Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Al Horford, Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Tobias Harris — and you get the point.
The league is sick of the Warriors winning, and 49% of the players possibly being free agents shows just how much cap space will be available next summer.
The 76ers could add another star, and we all know that LeBron will try to lure guys to LA. Given the uncertainty and the fact that I think Durant is leaving, I think there’s still some value on the Warriors not winning the next two.
Evan Abrams: Before 2020-21 season (-200)
It would be difficult for me to take the after 2020-21 prop here when in our staff favorite future bets for 2018-19 I picked the field against the Warriors to win the title this season (though -200 for two seasons vs. +150 for just 2018-19 are two very different bets).
My reasoning was simple, and for this prop, I like it even more: miles on their tires. Golden State at this point is reaching dynasty-level minutes, with easy comparisons to the Lakers and Celtics of the 1980s and even more recently, the Heat with LeBron and the Lakers of the early 2000s. With these teams, something always happens to derail what everyone assumes will be the inevitable. I will repeat this sentiment from my future bet blurb:
“Forgetting the Cavs now without LeBron, Golden State has played almost 8,000 more minutes and over 30 more games than any other team in the NBA since 2014-15. Only one franchise in NBA history has made five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals: the 1950-60s Boston Celtics (10 straight).”
… and I will add one more thing: The inner-squabbling between members of the Hampton’s Five is something to note, but not in the short term. I think they will use it as motivation to win now. But I do question what role it will play when players have to make financial decisions, starting this offseason.
Who will be the next non-Warriors team to win the title?
- Boston Celtics: +300
- Los Angeles Lakers: +450
- Toronto Raptors: +600
- Philadelphia 76ers: +600
- Milwaukee Bucks: +600
- Houston Rockets: +800
- Denver Nuggets: +1500
- Utah Jazz: +1500
- Los Angeles Clippers: +1500
- New York Knicks: +2000
- New Orleans Pelicans: +3000
- OKC Thunder: +3500
- San Antonio Spurs: +4000
- All other teams: +5000
Wob: Philadelphia 76ers (+600)
Crazy that they will potentially have another max spot available this summer. Assuming they can re-sign Jimmy Butler for a contract less than the super-max, they’re going to add a fourth All Star to this already dynamite roster.
If/when the Warriors ever break up, Joel Embiid will be the next Shaq, Butler will be the floor general he’s always been, Ben Simmons will be making shots more than three feet away from the basket and they will be unstoppable in an Eastern Conference, which might not have Kawhi Leonard in it past this season.
Unless Milwaukee can convince a star to take a discount to play alongside Giannis, I’m rolling with the most talented team in the easier conference.
Moore: Boston Celtics +300
I hate taking the favorite, but I can’t buy in on the rest. I love the Bucks, but they have to 1) get enough help around Giannis to beat the best, 2) have Budenholzer’s system work in the playoffs and 3) probably have Giannis develop a jumper, which seems unlikely.
Toronto looks great, but until they prove they can look dominant in a playoff run, I can’t invest there. Houston’s already possibly passing its peak capability and has prohibitive contracts. No other West team is seriously a threat. If the Clippers signed Kawhi and Durant, are they a contender? Of course. Do they win the title? Maybe? But the range of outcomes isn’t good.
Instead, I’ll take the historic franchise that has a knack for making things work out for them, with a potential future MVP in Jayson Tatum and tradeable stars in Al Horford and Kyrie Irving if they need to change course and pursue someone like Anthony Davis. In a world of bad choices, the Celtics are the safest.
Barkley: Philadelphia 76ers (+600)
It is really tempting to take a team like Toronto because you do have a better percentage this year, too. And there are plenty of quality candidates, especially given that the Lakers will improve this offseason.
But if I give Golden State this one, it’s basically “who do I want next season?” I’m not sure what Philly is going to be this year, and they still might need more help, specifically depth on the bench. But the way they’ve managed their salary cap, there is enough room to make the team even better, and you’re getting the maturation of Simmons and Embiid into what should be each of their best seasons (or in Embiid’s case, a season as good as what we’re seeing now).
Once you establish a core of three stars, it’s much easier to lure role-player talent in the form of ring-chasers, too. If the chemistry fits, there’s a recipe for this team to really fly next year.
Abrams: Boston Celtics (+300)
Now this is fun. There are a few different ways of attacking this. You have the smart, money-friendly general managers/owners list (Celtics, Raptors, Rockets, Clippers, Spurs), and then you have your talent, contract-friendly “player” list (Celtics, Raptors, Sixers, Jazz, Nuggets).
The obvious would be to try and intersect the two in your pick, which leads me to the favorite on this list: the Boston Celtics. Their draft pick stock is hefty (they could potentially get the Clippers, Grizzlies and Kings first-rounders), their talent level is top notch, their general manager is a wizard and they play in the Eastern Conference.
Granted, there are things I love about the Sixers (better price with a young duo and dominant three), but I think Boston finds a way to figure it out given how many different angles and assets they have to compete.
Bryan Mears: Los Angeles Lakers (+450)
Alright, I’ll be contrarian here just for argument’s sake. I think we’re at a point where the Eastern Conference is actually better than the West right now — and projects to be for some time. If the Warriors lose Durant, another West team will potentially have an easier time making it to the NBA Finals than facing the Celtics, Raptors, Warriors and Bucks (and maybe the Knicks if they get free agents).
The Lakers are definitely no where close to a title team right now, but they would be in a great spot if they were able to acquire a couple stars in free agency — something they’ve been targeting for a while. Kawhi has already said in the past that he’d like to play there, and they’ll be in the running for KD among other players, too.
Give LeBron two other stars and one last shot at a title — and I’ll take it. The Warriors would still be a formidable foe in the West, but the Rockets are declining, and I don’t think teams like the Jazz or Nuggets would be in that next tier to compete with a superstar team.
One last thought: I wanted to take the Bucks, but it’s unlikely another star will choose Milwaukee in free agency. If they do, however, let’s all just go home. Giannis might be the best player in the league for the next decade.