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NBA Futures: Favorites to Win Title in Each Division

   NBA Futures: Favorites to Win Title in Each Division

November 26, 2021


We are not even a quarter of the way through the 2021 NBA season but there are already signs as to which teams are legitimate contenders and those that are merely pretenders. Below we will go through each division and make our selection as to which team will likely be in contention for an NBA World Championship when June rolls around.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

With the notable exception of the Pacific, this group of East Coast teams represents the most competitive division in the league. The Brooklyn Nets are at the top of the heap as of this writing with a 14-5 record. Remarkably, they have done so without the sublime skills of the third piece of their three-headed monster, Kyrie Irving. James Harden and Kevin Durant have picked up the slack, and then some, as Kyrie refuses to follow the New York City Covid mandates and, therefore, cannot play home games at the Barclays Center. The team has told Kyrie he’s either all-in or all-out. Expect a trade in the near future if Kyrie won’t come around…and he won’t.

The Pick: Brooklyn Nets

Central Division

The Chicago Bulls are shocking everyone this season and are holding court high above the Central Division with a 12-7 record. The job that head coach, Billy Donovan, has done with this group that didn’t even make the playoffs last year is nothing short of astounding.

The preseason NBA championship odds at all of the best online sportsbooks had the Bulls at +6600 to win the title but they have exceeded all expectations in the early going. Many of the top betting forums have free sports service plays available but few handicappers could have predicted how successful this Bulls team would be to start the season.

However, we must be realistic and although the Bulls look like they are on their way to a postseason berth, we don’t expect them to hang onto the top spot in the division nor compete for a championship. That Central Division distinction belongs to the reigning NBA champs, the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Pick: Milwaukee Bucks

Southeast Division

A case can be made for every team in this division except the woeful Orlando Magic. As of this writing, the Miami Heat are in the penthouse with the upstart Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets in their rearview mirror. And while the Heat were the preseason favorites to win the Southeast, we should also consider the Atlanta Hawks and the veteran talent they have on that team.

Trae Young is a bona fide superstar for the Hawks but the supporting cast is not deep enough to get it done. When the smoke clears in this division, the only team capable of making a charge for the title is the Miami Heat with perennial All-Star Jimmy Butler leading a talented group consisting of Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and Kyle Lowry. They are the cream of the crop in the Southeast and our choice as the best in class.

The Pick: Miami Heat

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Western Conference

Northwest Division

The Utah Jazz were the oddsmakers' choice to win the Northwest followed by the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trailblazers. The T-Wolves and Thunder were an afterthought and continue to be so after their early-season struggles that are expected to continue throughout the season. And Utah is proving the oddsmakers right as they rule at the top with a 12-6 mark after 18 games. Portland is barely above .500 while the Nuggets are staggering along with a 9-9 record.

It's very early but the Jazz are a very competent team and one that doesn’t have many of the sensational highs compounded by the disconcerting lows of other teams. The triumvirate of Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Bojan Bogdanovic has propelled this team to lofty heights. But it is the veteran depth on this team that allows them to wear down opponents and emerge victorious. While we like the Nuggets and the sharpshooters they possess we will cast our lot with the Jazz to win the division and compete for a title.

The Pick: Utah Jazz

Pacific Division

There is little doubt we will see four of the five teams in this division appear in the postseason but the Golden State Warriors are undoubtedly back after their dynasty took a few years off to recoup after a series of devastating injuries. Steph Curry is livin’ large and in charge as his Warriors are decimating the competition as evidenced by their 16-2 record. And while the Suns, Clippers, and Lakers are all legitimate title threats, there is no team in the league that can compete against the Warriors when they are clicking on all cylinders. The Warriors have returned to take what is theirs.

The Pick: Golden State Warriors

Southwest Division

This division crown is theirs for the Mavericks’ taking if they want it. And with the exceptional skills of Luka Doncic quarterbacking this team, it is difficult to envision any other leading the Southwest Division pack. Memphis is the only team that could remotely challenge for the division title but that seems unlikely unless the injury bug bites hard on the Mavs.

No, this is not much of a race and Dallas will try to get through the season as injury-free as possible and jockey their way up the Western Conference standings. When the smoke clears in the regular season, the Mavericks will be in the postseason but anything more than a first-round series win would be the cherry on top of the ice cream.

The Pick: Dallas Mavericks

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