The news of Kawhi Leonard’s departure from Toronto to join the Los Angeles Clippers has caused a major shakeup on the 2020 NBA championship odds, with the Raptors tumbling to a lengthy +2000 on those betting futures at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
With Leonard’s future uncertain after leading the Raptors to their first-ever NBA title, Toronto opened as a +1000 wager to claim back-to-back NBA championships. The loss of the two-time NBA Finals MVP came on the heels of a frantic week of free agent signings that saw Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant go to the Brooklyn Nets, Jimmy Butler leave Philadelphia for the Miami Heat, and Al Horford depart Boston for the 76ers.
That has left few options on the free agent market for the Raptors to replace Leonard, as well as Danny Green, who also left town as a free agent, joining the new-look Los Angeles Lakers. However, the Raptors proved to be a competitive club even without Leonard in the lineup during the past season, going 17-5 in 22 contests.
Despite maintaining a competitive core, led by veteran Kyle Lowry and the NBA’s Most Improved Player this past season, Pascal Siakam, the Raptors have plenty of work to do to close the gap on the top of the NBA championship odds at sports betting sites, where the Clippers now reside as lofty +300 favourites, just ahead of the Lakers at +400.
After missing the NBA playoffs for the first time in seven years in 2018, the Clippers returned to the postseason this past season. The Clippers nailed down the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference with a 48-34 record, and took the Golden State Warriors to six games in their opening-round playoff series loss.
The addition of Leonard, along with Paul George, whom the Clippers pried away from Oklahoma City in a trade that landed the Thunder several first-round draft picks, has powered the club’s speedy rise from +1000 to NBA championship favourites.
The Lakers have also kept busy in their quest to end a six-year playoff drought. The team’s lengthy pursuit of Anthony Davis finally came to a successful conclusion just days after the Raptors’ championship victory over the Warriors, with the 26-year-old moving to Los Angeles in a blockbuster trade with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who sits as an early +300 favourite on the NBA MVP odds, the Milwaukee Bucks closely trail the Clippers and Lakers at +500. The 76ers follow at +800, ahead of the Warriors and Rockets at +1400. The Denver Nuggets join the Utah Jazz at +1600, and the Raptors are joined by the Celtics and Nets at +2000 on those NBA odds.