Are the Golden State Warriors the best NBA team of all-time? As they head into the 2017-18 regular season, the Warriors have an Elo rating of 1865, better than Michael Jordan’s 1995-96 Chicago Bulls at 1853. And once again, Golden State is the alpha team on the 2018 NBA Championship odds list; they’re –160 favorites at press time, miles ahead of the rival Cleveland Cavaliers at +450.

It’s hard to argue with success. The Warriors have faced Cleveland in three straight NBA Finals, winning twice, and they’ve got all their core players back for this season’s title defense. That includes former MVPs Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, fellow All-Stars Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, plus a strong supporting cast of veterans and prospects. The cream rises to the top in the NBA, and Golden State is the cream of the NBA futures odds.

Kyrie vs. LeBron

The Cavaliers have beaten them before, though. Can they do it without Kyrie Irving? For that matter, can Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics (+800) do it without LeBron James? Irving asked to be traded this offseason, and the Cavs granted his wish, sending him to Boston in an exchange of All-Star point guards. Isaiah Thomas will be LeBron’s wingman now – or at least he will be in January when (and if) Thomas recovers from his hip injury. Derrick Rose will man the point until then, and he’s a shell of his former MVP self. Perhaps James will lean on former Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade instead now that they’ve been reunited.

The Western Conference dominates the next tier of the NBA Championship odds list. The San Antonio Spurs (+1200), Oklahoma City Thunder (+1200) and Houston Rockets (+1600) are the only other teams expected to challenge Golden State, with the Minnesota Timberwolves (+2800) looming as dark horses. The rising Wolves should have plenty of NBA betting value on a per-game basis, but they haven’t even been to the playoffs since 2004. It’ll be up to the new “superteams” in Oklahoma City and Houston to prove they’ve closed the gap between themselves and the Warriors. And that work begins right now.


*Odds as of October 10, 2017