Clippers 2023 NBA Championship Odds: Sportsbooks Are Sky High On Kawhi, PG & Company

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kawhi leonard

Bettors may gain an interesting perspective on DraftKings’ opening futures odds for the Los Angeles Clippers next year: the team gets a mulligan.

Golf’s version of a do-over may applies to what’s been considered a lost 2022 season for the Clippers. That’s why their 42-40 record and double-elimination setback in the play-in tournament did not change the book’s view of the team’s respect.

The Clippers opened right up there, sharing the +600 top spot with the world-champion Golden State Warriors and the finalist Boston Celtics, among others.

So much for buying on the dip to a Clippers bettor.

“The feeling with them is that they had a poor year, but that  they figure to make a move or two and be right in the mix,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told mylasports.

“You can figure there’s a reason things didn’t work out for them last season. You lose Kawhi  Leonard and  then you had  Paul George having a rough start. That’s  a lot for them to overcome.”

Was it ever.

Leonard is one of the top players in the game. He missed the entire season with a knee injury. 

Think they missed his per-game average of 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists from 2020-21? Not to mention the .512 field-goal percentage? Uh-huh.

But his expected return and impact would significantly elevate the chances for this team.

George missed the first half of the season with an injury and battled back to play well during the second half, but then he contacted Covid 19. He was unavailable when the Clippers dropped the second play-in game to the New Orleans Pelicans. Earlier, they had lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

George showed flashes of the player who notched 23.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists from the year before.

Between Leonard and George, that was a lot of production to lose. And the Clippers dropped from a pro-rated total of 53 wins in the shortened 2020-2021 season to 42 last year.

Some players did step up to keep the team scrapping for a playoff spot.

Norman Powell had some good games for the Clippers after being acquired in a midseason trade.

Head coach Tyronn Lue had a strong year.

He obtained strong production from minimum-salary players like Terance Mann, Isaiah Hartenstein and  Amir Coffey. Veterans like Reggie Jackson, Ivica Zubac and Luke Kennard played well enough.

Kennard, in fact, punctuated a historic win for the Clippers in January. His 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining followed by a free throw, capping  the Clipper’s crazy 116-115  road victory over the Washington Wizards.

They rallied from a whopping 35 points to win.

It was the largest second-half comeback in NBA history and the largest in franchise history.

Clippers bettors remember the team trailing 66-31 with 1:20 remaining in the first half. The Clippers never led until the final basket of the game

With a strong supporting cast, the Clippers are seen as a viable threat if their top players perform well.

“When you take a look at those odds, what we are saying right now is that we don’t know what to expect,” Avello said. “We’ve got the top team all at the same odds. And then we have a group that includes the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns.

“You won’t see a whole lot of action on this yet, we just got done with the NBA, but bettors will start looking for some spots.”

They will find something interesting.

The Los Angeles Lakers odds opened at high-for-them +1600 (16-1).

They, along with the Brooklyn Nets, are traditionally overbet because gamblers expect them to turn it on when it matters. They are also major-market teams who generate betting loyalty for that reason alone.

The Nets, swept in the first round by the Celtics, were the top futures choice all season. The Lakers were right behind them, until fading and not reaching the playoffs.

The books, loaded with liability on both of those teams, could not have been happier when they bowed out.

“Usually, you see a dominant team at the top of the list now and you will see odds much less than +600,” Avello noted. “There’s a change this year because the Lakers are not taking much money. You never see them this high.”

Rumor Mill Regarding Lakers

Is this the spot for an off-season stab?

The Lakers are usually mentioned when a star player wants out of a bad situation, as the Nets are now. As such, some bettors may take a shot at them with them at this price, hoping a deal falls in place.

The Lakers are one of the teams listed as p favorites to land disgruntled Kyrie Irving, part of a Grand Experiment Flopp-ola for the Nets. They spent a fortune reeling in Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant a few years back. But the three played together in less than 50% of their combined eligible games and the Nets came up short in the last two playoff seasons.

So short that a declining Harden was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in February for Ben Simmons, who hasn’t played.

Now Irving and Durant appear to want out.

Whether the Nets comply is another matter.

Here is something to watch regarding Irving, who wants a long-term deal.

He played in just 103 of 246 total regular-season games since he signed with the team.

If he leaves, the Lakers are viewed as a major contender to lure him.

They may have to be careful what they wish for.

Yes, Irving played with Lebron James five years ago in Cleveland, where they won a title.

But neither player is at his best now.

Does Irving have baggage and will he come to LA? For bettors, that’s part of the handicapping.