Don't overlook Warriors in 2022 NBA championship odds
Bucks supporters weren’t the only ones who stayed up late on Tuesday night. As fans took to the streets to celebrate Milwaukee’s first championship in 50 years, the oddmakers at TwinSpires Sports dutifully got down to work to forecast the outcome of the 2021-22 NBA season.
The result of their number-crunching is now online, and the Brooklyn Nets are favored to win the 2022 NBA Championship, followed closely by the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Bucks.
NBA Championship 2021/2022
Thu, June 2 2022, 10:00 AM
Los Angeles Lakers
Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers
The oddsmakers’ rationale isn’t hard to understand. The Nets are powered by the league’s most fearsome three-headed monster, the Lakers were the defending world champs before being beset by injuries, and the Bucks have proven they belong after toppling the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals.
All three squads are worthy of a wager, but there’s another team bettors should also consider in Golden State. Yes, the Warriors missed out on the playoffs for the second straight year in 2021, but there are three good reasons we believe Steve Kerr & Co. will come roaring back in the year ahead.
1. Klay Thompson is scheduled to return
The Warriors were among the title favorites last fall before Klay Thompson tore his Achilles tendon in a pickup game. It was the second devastating injury for the five-time All-Star in as many years, and it effectively ended his season before it even began.
Golden State tried to plug the hold by signing Kelly Oubre Jr., but the hyper-athletic wing got off to a historically bad start, and the Warriors never recovered.
The good news (yes, there is a little bit of that) is Thompson has returned to the court and is progressing well. "He’s still a ways away from actually playing basketball in a 5-on-5 setting," Steve Kerr recently revealed, "but there’s a big step with the Achilles when you can actually start running again. It’s a huge psychological boost. The rest of the body gets going, you start feeling the soreness and aches and pains that actually feel good when you’ve been out for a while. He’s at that point."
That's a good point to be if you're a Golden State fan, as the Warriors simply weren’t the Warriors without Thompson and his ability to stretch opposing defenses to their breaking point. The 31-year-old is a career 42% 3-point shooter and his range makes Golden State one of the league’s most lethal offenses. He also has something you simply can’t teach: phenomenal chemistry with Steph Curry and Draymond Green. The talented trio won three championships over a four-year span, and there’s no reason to believe they can’t contend again now that Klay is rounding into form.
2. Steph Curry’s extended prime
The NBA doesn’t give an MVP award for second half performances, but if it did the trophy would be sitting on Curry’s mantle right now. The three-time champ went supernova after the All-Star break as he averaged 34.9 points per game on 49% shooting from the field and 43% from beyond the arc. Curry set a record for most 3s in a single month and captured the scoring title on the final day of the season by coolly dropping 46 points on the Memphis Grizzlies.
And he did it all while playing beside Mychal Mulder and Jordan Poole. Just imagine how much more room Curry will have to operate as defenders shade over to deny a revitalized Thompson.
3. Draft equity
One of the benefits to crapping the bed, as the Warriors did in 2020-21, is getting better draft picks. This year, Golden will have the seventh pick, courtesy of a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and its own 14th pick.
The Warriors can approach this year’s draft in two different ways, both of which could improve their roster significantly. They can select a pair of polished, NBA-ready studs like Baylor guard Davion Mitchell and Gonzaga sharpshooter Corey Kispert, or they can package the picks for an established player.
If they choose the latter route, as many expect, they’re likely to sweeten the deal by including James Wiseman, whom the Warriors selected second overall in the 2020 NBA Draft. The 20-year-old big man saw his season come to an end in early April after suffering a meniscus injury in his right knee, but he was a poor stylistic fit for the Dubs from the get-go.
The three assets could be enough to fetch Pascal Siakam from the Raptors, should Toronto decide to rebuild, or Ben Simmons from the 76ers, should Philly decide to part ways with the defensive ace.
Either player would be a huge upgrade, and could propel Golden State back to the NBA’s promised land. Jump on their +1000 odds now before the Warriors shake up their roster.