The Golden State Warriors were too good in 2016/17. Steph Curry was Steph Curry, Kevin Durant was Kevin Durant and the supporting cast were as brilliant as we’ve come to expect. Even LeBron could not slow their progress in the finals.
As ‘superteam’ is banded about with the frequency of outrageous Curry three-pointers, the NBA rumour mill has locked into overdrive for the off season. The draft is around the corner and blockbuster trades are being flirted with by the chasing pack as they dream of stopping the Oakland-based juggernaut.
The Boston Celtics will likely be active this summer after exiting in the Eastern Conference Finals, but even with the genius of Isaiah Thomas, Boston would need a remarkable offseason to make us really doubt a repeat of this season’s finals. Cleveland own the East right now, and – aside from a dramatic LeBron u-turn – that is unlikely to change. They are fourth favourites to pick up another ring in 2018, but are still out at 14/1.
In at 9/1 are the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs had injury troubles in the postseason, but still strode to the Western Conference Finals and it all could have been rather different had they not let a massive half-time lead slip in Game One. That said, they are in a similarly frustrating boat to the Celtics. Kawhi Leonard’s superb season was not quite wasted, though it’s hard to see how they come close to stopping these Warriors.
The Houston Rockets got an MVP-calibre year from James Harden, but are short of giving him the team to properly push the Warriors. This is reflected in their price of 33/1, and they would need a show-stopping summer to shorten those odds dramatically.
We are looking at another LeBron versus Golden State year. It could be the case for a few more years just yet and – while rumours of James departing Cleveland have reappeared after his end of season comments – this summer is mainly going to be about what the Cavs can do to match the Warriors.
It will take a Durant-esque signing to lengthen the current odds on the Warriors to win it again, which are currently 11/20. Paul George is the name currently touted to give LeBron a starting five capable of replicating their 2016 success. Cleveland are at 7/2 for the championship right now and, as a marquee addition becomes increasingly inevitable, that is a great price.