Looking at 2023 NBA Title Odds

After Phoenix matched Indiana's four-year offer sheet for DeAndre Ayton last week, all the biggest names are off the board in NBA free agency. Due to the situation in Brooklyn and Donovan Mitchell trade rumors coming out of Utah, there may still be some sizable player movement to occur before training camps open in September, but those trades will likely take some time to materialize.

With the exception of the Kevin Durant trade request and Rudy Gobert garnering a haul of picks from the Timberwolves, it's been a quiet offseason compared to several in recent memory. To me, that's a great sign because it means better team continuity at the top of the best rosters in the league and creates the real potential for some short-term rivalries between contenders.

It would be foolish to think the standings will look the same, though. That's particularly the case in the West, where the Clippers and Nuggets stand to get significant pieces back from injury and as many as seven teams will feel like they have legitimate preseason Finals aspirations.

With the start of next season about 90 days away, and mostly bench players left on the free agents list, now is a good time to find some value for 2023 NBA title odds — and look at who may be overvalued. (All odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook as of July 18.)

Teams With Good Value

Dallas Mavericks (+2500)

The Mavs being a 25/1 shot for the 2023 title puts them as the 12th likeliest team to win the championship, per FanDuel. I think that's a bit ridiculous for a team that was in the Conference Finals a couple months ago.

Of course, losing Jalen Brunson hurts, and that's why this number is so low. But I think it's worth remembering that Brunson wasn't Dallas' second most important perimeter player in 2021 — that was Tim Hardaway, Jr., who missed half the regular season and the playoffs. That year, the Mavs took the full-strength Clippers to the brink with a defensive scheme that's not as good as what they have under Jason Kidd.

Picking up Christian Wood from Houston for a late first round pick and bench pieces was a smart piece of business, and Javale McGee should help with rebounding.

Toronto Raptors (+4600)

Hear me out: if Kevin Durant is actually going to be traded away from Brooklyn this offseason, I think there's a decent chance it's to the Raptors, despite K.D. reportedly naming Phoenix and Miami as his top destinations.

Phoenix is all but off the table because Ayton can't be traded until Jan. 15, and Devin Booker can't be traded to Brooklyn and be on the same roster as Ben Simmons. Bam Adebayo can't be traded to the Nets for the same reason. Toronto has a blue-chip asset in reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes. The Raptors reportedly say he's untouchable, and I actually think they don't have to include him.

If both Phoenix and Miami can't give up all-star-level pieces in a deal for a top five player in the league who's under contract for four more years, is Brooklyn going to be able to get a better deal than something like Pascal Siakam, Gary Trent, Jr., and a few picks/swaps? I don't think so.

Even if we assume Durant changes his mind and stays in Brooklyn, Toronto's core players, dynamic defense, and a likely second-year improvement by Barnes make them a better title shot than the approximately 2% chance that a 46/1 shot implies.

Denver Nuggets (+2100)

I'll forever be amazed that Nikola Jokic both dragged a Nuggets team without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter, Jr. to a 6-seed and made the eventual champs sweat a bit in the final three games of a first-round series this past spring. If Murray is back to the level he was at in 2020 and early 2021 and Porter can play about 55-60 games and be healthy headed into April, this team could absolutely contend. The Nuggets were looking like a force in the middle of the 2020-21 campaign after acquiring Aaron Gordon and before Murray tore his ACL.

The Nuggets also brought Kentavious Caldwell-Pope into the fold in the offseason, and he should be a great 3-and-D fit around Jokic and Murray.

Teams to Fade

Los Angeles Clippers (+700)

It's quite curious to me that the Clippers No. 4 in the title odds at 7/1 while Denver is much further back. To put it bluntly, I think this line overestimates the impact of Kawhi Leonard coming back. The Clippers were probably happy to finish at about .500 after being without Leonard for the whole season, Paul George for a majority of the season, and only having Norman Powell for a few games after getting him from Portland in February.

The Clippers couldn't close the deal to get to the playoffs against Minnesota in the playoffs with a team that included George and Powell. The Clippers are deep and should have a lot of lineup flexibility in the regular season even with a load-managed Kawhi Leonard campaign to come. I'd be surprised if they finish with fewer than 50 wins. But I'm not sure Kawhi can stay healthy, and I'm not sure he's worth all the extra playoff wins that he was at his San Antonio and Toronto peaks.

Philadelphia 76ers (+1500)

Every offseason, it seems like people end up talking themselves into the Sixers as a title contender despite the previous season's playoff flameout. And it's happening again this offseason after Philly picked up P.J. Tucker and De'Anthony Melton. Both are nice pieces that fill a need for the Sixers, but do they truly move the needle for the playoffs if Joel Embiid is always nursing an injury after the regular season and James Harden is perennially passive in the most high-leverage situations? I'm saying no.

Memphis Grizzlies (+2400)

This one pains me to include. In an alternate universe, it might be the Grizzlies — had they had a healthy Ja Morant through the playoffs — and not the Warriors who won the title in June. I loved how fearless the ahead-of-schedule Grizzlies were, and Morant is already a full-fledged superstar in my mind.

Memphis was also a great regular-season beneficiary of the injuries to Denver and the Clippers, and 56 wins feels like an almost impossible task to repeat. For this season, Jaren Jackson, Jr. is going to miss significant time, possibly through the end of 2022. I think Jackson is so important to the Grizzlies that him missing the first 20-30 games of next season will put them way behind the eight-ball for a top-four seed in the West, much less repeating a top-two seed.

If you're curious, the top favorites for the 2023 title are the Celtics (+500), Bucks (+550), and Warriors (+650). Those all feel like somewhat accurate numbers, and reflect that the East will probably have another long Celtics-Bucks series next spring. The Warriors strike me as a bit overvalued, but there's always a lot of action being played on a defending champion who's also a public team for the casual bettor.

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