There was an expected ripple effect across the NBA Finals betting odds landscape for 2020 on Tuesday night when deputy commissioner Mark Tatum revealed the order of the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery.
The Pelicans, Grizzlies, Knicks and Lakers were the big winners, while the Suns, Cavaliers and Bulls all dropped out of the top 4 in their pursuit of Duke freshman Zion Williamson.
And it had a major impact on initial 2020 NBA Finals odds, according to Jeff Sherman, VP of Risk Management at Westgate’s SuperBookUSA.
2019-20 NBA Championship winner updated— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) May 15, 2019
Bos, Phi 12/1
NY, LAC, LAL 16/1
Den, OKC, NO 25/1
Utah, Por 40/1
Dal, SA 50/1
Orl, Atl, Chi, Sac, Mem 100/1
Det, Char, Mia, Wsh, Cle, Min, Phx 300/1
Sportsbooks Like Pelicans Now
The biggest winner of the night was the New Orleans Pelicans, who overcame 6% odds to earn the top pick and the right to draft Williamson. Ironically, he’s the best NBA prospect since Anthony Davis, who the Pelicans also drafted in 2012 after winning that year’s Lottery.
The Pelicans jumped from +30000 (300/1) all the way to +2500 (25/1) because of it. The recipe is pretty simple. If general manager David Griffin can convince Davis, who publicly requested a trade last season and reportedly still wants out, to stay in New Orleans, a trio of Davis, Williamson and Jrue Holiday immediately makes the Pelicans contenders.
Westgate director John Murray told ESPN that they’re banking on Davis having a change of heart and seeing how things play out with Williamson as his newest teammate.
"We think it's a lot more likely that Anthony Davis decides maybe New Orleans isn't so bad now that they're getting Zion,” he said.
Fans of NBA betting should remember that this is a Pelicans team that won 48 games and advanced to the second round of the NBA Playoffs a year ago after sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round. If Davis stays, the Pelicans will be aggressive in free agency and building a contender around that three-headed monster.
Pelicans response oh wow pic.twitter.com/uBEJlUZmf4— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) May 15, 2019
Knicks NBA Title Odds Improve Despite Disappointment
The Knicks were the only team in the top 4 of the Lottery standings to remain there, earning the No. 3 pick. But it’s unclear if they’ll actually be picking there. Prior to the Lottery, New York reportedly was going to pursue a trade for Davis if it won the Lottery, with a package centered around Williamson that clearly would have enticed the Pelicans.
The No. 3 pick doesn’t have as much value but it still gives New York a chance in the Davis sweepstakes. They have young prospects in Dennis Smith Jr., Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox that could get a deal done with New Orleans.
If the Knicks are able to trade for Davis, their odds of adding two superstars in free agency, such as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant increase considerably. That trio of Davis, Irving and Durant would arguably be the best in the NBA, so it’s no surprise that their title odds have improved to +1600 (16/1) despite them winning just 17 games last season.
LeBron And Lakers Move Up in Draft
LeBron James is 35 years old and any team he’s on will always be in win-now mode. They, too, are expected to make a run at Davis and got some help on Tuesday night by jumping up seven spots.
Like with the Knicks’ third pick, there’s a real drop-off at No. 4. But a package that includes that pick and a combination of the Lakers’ young talent – Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart – could get a deal done for Davis, too.
The Lakers will also have max cap space and could go hard after players such s Irving, Kawhi Leonard or Jimmy Butler in free agency. We’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: Any team that employs LeBron James is a good bet to contend for a title.
They hired an experienced head coach in Frank Vogel who has won in the past, and if they can swing a deal for Davis and grab a max free agent they’ll be right back in the thick of the Western Conference.