The 2022-23 NBA season is about one-third of the way through as we shift from 2022 to 2023.
As is so common in the NBA, we already have teams greatly over-and-under-achieving.
Let’s take a look at some of those teams and how their respective championship odds have changed throughout the early part of the season. The records and odds for each team are current as of Tuesday.
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Kings Take Big Leap Toward Crown
The Sacramento Kings are 19-16. They started at +50000 to win the NBA Championship and have seen those odds drop significantly to +7500.
They have united behind their ‘Light the Beam’ movement, where the stadium shoots a purple beam of light into the sky after each win. This has become a habit for the team, which has won 19 of 35 to start the season.
The team expected big contributions from star players like point guard De’Aaron Fox and center Domantas Sabonis, but has been surprised by the depth they’ve been able to put on full display so far this season. Young contributors such as power forward Keegan Murray and backup point guard Davion Mitchell have been able to contribute, even at a young age. Role players like shooting guard Kevin Huerter, combo forward Harrison Barnes and backup guard Malik Monk have stepped up and been the X-factor in helping this team to achieve early season success.
Realistically, Sacramento will not factor into the NBA Finals equation this season just yet. They lack the top-end talent that many other contenders have but have shown that they are not as far behind as people thought. This team will smash its preseason win total and probably finish around .500, a tremendous outcome for a team many expected to tank this year.
Indiana Keeps Pace with Competitors
The Indiana Pacers (21-17) started the season at +50000 and have gone to +20000.
This season has been a breakout one for the young Pacer guards. The team has been heavily led by star point guard Tyrese Haliburton, who appears likely to make his first career All Star Game this year. A couple of other young starting guards in Andrew Nembhard and Buddy Hield have also exceeded expectations and have become irreplaceable, despite capable options on the bench. Those options, rookie Bennedict Mathurin and second-year player Chris Duarte, have also stood out and are pushing for more minutes every game.
This team is on a similar trajectory to the previously mentioned Kings. They will be very fun to watch and root for all year long, while topping their preseason win total. They will not, however, finish above .500 like they currently are, nor will they make the playoffs. So just enjoy them while they’re hot and make money off of them while it lasts!
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Lakers Descent Continues
Now on to the more depressing part of the list. The Los Angeles Lakers, like every other year, entered the 2022-23 season with very high expectations. They have slipped, however starting 16-21 and watching their title odds go from +1800 to +7500.
Any year you have LeBron James and Anthony Davis on your roster, your goal is to win a championship. Things have not gone according to plan, unfortunately, as the team has struggled to stay healthy. Most notably, Davis is currently out indefinitely and the team’s title chances slightly decrease with each day that he remains injured.
The Lakers absolutely still have the potential to make a deep run in the playoffs. Like I said earlier, all you need is LeBron and AD and you can consider yourself a contender. This deep playoff run will be contingent on the health of the team, and this is something to be concerned about for Laker fans. The team is almost 100% either aging veterans or injury-prone players. It’s hard to rely on those types of players in the postseason and for that reason it just doesn’t seem likely that we see the LakeShow hoisting another trophy this season.
Injuries Hurting Suns’ Title Chances
The Phoenix Suns have gotten hit hard with the injury bug this season. The team has been without key forwards Jae Crowder and Cameron Johnson for an extended period of time and just lost star SG Devin Booker for at least a month as well.
On top of injury misfortune, the Suns have also gotten underwhelming performances from starting PG Chris Paul and center Deandre Ayton. These two have been instrumental to the team’s success in the past, most notably when the team made it to the Finals a couple seasons ago. For this reason, Phoenix has not been the same with these two key players having down years.
As a result, the Suns are 20-18 and have seen their odds slip from +1000 to +1300.
If the team can get healthier and better play from its individual key players, another Finals run is by no means out of the question. They have shown the talent level required to compete at the highest level and they can absolutely get back to that if the right dominos start falling in their favor. Until the health and rust return to normal though, this team will continue to clash and under perform.
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