Bucks NBA Title Odds Shorten With Holiday, Bogdanovic Deals
Mark Strotman | 4 mins
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The Milwaukee Bucks are doing everything they can to show Giannis Antetokounmpo they’re serious about winning. The two moves they pulled off late Monday night accomplished just that.
It wasn’t cheap, but Milwaukee’s topline talent improved significantly with the additions of Jrue Holiday and Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Bucks GM Jon Horst has reshaped his roster late Monday night, acquiring Jrue Holiday and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Giannis wanted to see some significant upgrades and it appears the franchise has delivered for him. Huge night for that franchise. Kings get Divincenzo, a real asset.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 17, 2020
Oddsmakers took immediate notice. Overnight, Milwaukee’s 2021 NBA championship odds shortened from +600 to +500, and their NBA futures odds to win the East went from +225 to +200.
Bucks Tout Best NBA Starting Five
The Bucks’ trio of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Holiday is the best in the East. Antetokounmpo is the back-to-back league MVP, Middleton earned All-Star honors for the first time last season and Holiday is arguably the league’s best perimeter defender, who has also averaged 19.7 points per game over the last three seasons.
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Combine that trio with Brook Lopez and Bogdanovic, who quietly averaged 15.1 points per game in Sacramento last season, and the Bucks won’t be overmatched by any starting five they face. It’s Giannis, four sharpshooters, and two ball handlers/creators in Holiday and Bogdanovic that they really missed last season after losing Malcolm Brogdon in free agency.
Milwaukee Bucks Bench A Concern
The decision to acquire Bogdanovic puts a hard cap on Milwaukee, which now must fill seven roster spots with minimum deals. In addition to shipping out draft picks, the deals also cost Milwaukee Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and Donte DiVincenzo. Wes Matthews and Robin Lopez also declined their player options on Monday, so the Bucks’ bench consists of Justin James (2.5 points per game in 2020) and Thanasis Antetokounmpo (2.8 points).
Here is the roster in Milwaukee and staying under the hard cap:— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) November 17, 2020
Holiday (has unlikely bonuses that count)
Bogdanovic at $14.65M
7 players on minimum contracts
Veterans will likely be lining up to join the Bucks, but Milwaukee’s bench will be among the worst in the league. They’re incredibly top-heavy, which is perhaps why oddsmakers didn’t shorten their title odds further.
Nets NBA Odds Shift Amid Harden Talks
Another reason Milwaukee’s NBA odds didn’t shorten further? The team’s reign of having the best Big Three in the East might be short-lived. All-Pro James Harden reportedly wants out of Houston and is trying to leverage a move to Brooklyn to team with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Houston doesn’t seem interested in dealing the 31-year-old Harden, who has three years left on his current contract. They’re not in danger of losing him for nothing like the Spurs were with Kawhi Leonard and the Pelicans were with Anthony Davis.
Still, oddsmakers are bracing for a potential deal: They’ve shortened Brooklyn’s NBA Finals betting odds from +800 to +600. If a Harden deal went through, the Nets might be the NBA betting favorites (currently the Lakers at +350), so there’s some value there if you believe Harden is destined for the Big Apple.
Milwaukee’s movement and the Harden rumors also had a shift on two other East contenders. Both the Boston Celtics (+1200 to +1400 at Unibet) and Miami Heat (+1400 to +1600) saw a slight shift in their 2021 title odds, though it’s fair to expect plenty of movement over the following week. Trades will continue, free agency begins on Friday and the NBA Draft is Wednesday.
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Los Angeles Lakers Remain Favorite For Repeat
The Bucks weren’t the only active contender during the first days of the offseason. The NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers added to their backcourt by acquiring Dennis Schroder from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The move helps the Lakers in a number of ways and still gives them flexibility to add two pieces in free agency with their mid-level exception and bi-annual exception. Like Milwaukee, veterans will be eyeing the Lakers in free agency for a chance to win a ring. The Lakers’ +350 title odds could shorten even further depending on who they add this weekend, meaning there’s real value in betting on the defending champs to repeat.