One of the most anticipated NBA seasons in recent memory begins Tuesday night at the home of the defending champions. The Toronto Raptors will add their first championship banner to the rafters of Scotiabank Arena with one notable subtraction. Kawhi Leonard became the first player to win Finals MVP and leave for another NBA team in that offseason.
Who is Projected for the Finals?
Leonard’s new team, the Los Angeles Clippers, are the betting favorite to win the 2019/20 NBA title at +350 according to the Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas. The Clippers not only won the Leonard sweepstakes in free agency but secured a trade for All-NBA forward Paul George from Oklahoma City.
The second most likely team to win the title is the Clippers’ Staples Center roommate. The Los Angeles Lakers made an offseason splash as well in a trade for superstar forward Anthony Davis.
The most likely Finals representative in the East is the Milwaukee Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the reigning league MVP and although they shipped out key starter Malcolm Brogdon, the Bucks stand at +600 to take their first title since 1971.
Who Are the Sleeper Teams to Watch?
This offseason also left several sleeper teams who, like Toronto last season, could topple a favorite. The Utah Jazz saw key upgrades to a team that won 50 games last year. The Utah front office let Ricky Rubio walk in free agency after a trade for talented point guard Mike Conley. The move will allow budding star Donovan Mitchell to play more off the ball and allow him to make the jump many expected to see, but did not, in his second year.
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The Houston Rockets are another dark horse squad with potential. Rockets GM Daryl Morey engineered a trade for 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook and sent an aging Chris Paul to Oklahoma City. The move reunited Westbrook with another MVP James Harden.