Updated NBA Championship Odds: Kawhi to Clippers Shocks Bettors and Sportsbooks


The mainstream sports media wasn’t the only group to take it on the chin during the Kawhi Leonard saga. Many sports bettors were right there to share in the misery.

It seemed nobody got it right when it was learned late Friday that Leonard would sign with the Los Angeles Clippers as part of a sequence that also landed LA’s “other team” with Paul George via trade with Oklahoma City.

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“If he’d have went to the Lakers, we’d have gotten beaten up,” BetOnline.ag brand manager Dave Mason said Monday. “That’s where our exposure was, but in the end it was a win for us with the Clippers.”

Leonard signing with the Clippers ended a week of what turned out to be misguided speculation by some of the very best NBA reporters around. Most had him going to the Lakers. Others had him staying in Toronto. The Clippers were even ruled out completely by some talking heads and looked like the third-man out both on the news wire and in the sportsbooks.

The volley of rumors, mostly on Twitter, caused books like BetOnline to take the props offerings on where Leonard would sign down several times before re-posting them with different odds. One constant was Lakers money, be it in the 2019-20 season championship futures or which team Leonard would sign with.

“They’re so dangerous and so volatile, that you start taking them down because everything changes on one rumor,” Mason said.

At one point during last week’s mania, the Clippers fell to 18-1 to win next season’s championship. They’re now the 3-1 favorite. The Lakers, once +175 and still taking money even at that price, are the current second choice at 4-1. The Raptors were once 7-1 and are now 20-1 with Mason predicting they’ll go even higher.

“Everything has been driven by the Lakers,” Mason said. “After the championship (in June) when the odds first hit, and there were rumors about Anthony Davis, people bet the hell out of them and we went from 7-1 to 3-1 down to +175. We’ve been exposed to the Lakers the whole time.”

These big fluctuations aren’t coming on light volume either. Bettors are playing the NBA futures market with both hands at amounts Mason has never seen.

“To put it in perspective, we have more bets on the Lakers to win the title than we have on any NFL teams to win the Super Bowl,” Mason said. “Additionally, we have more bets on the Lakers than we do everybody else to win the World Series beside the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.”

The books already have a major win in hand with the props offerings on which team Leonard would sign with. And now all that Lakers exposure isn’t looking so bad with the Clippers now taking over the favorite’s role.

This offseason has been the latest proof that bettors aren’t afraid to lay big bucks on offerings where no actual game is played. The popularity of elections, drafts and free agency betting continues to grow at a hyper rate.

“People love that speculation,” Mason said. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s great for the house and great for betting. And this just shows you that we’re following the same rumors and that some of them are so far off.”

Odds to win 2020 NBA championship via BetOnline.ag:

Los Angeles Clippers 3-1
Los Angeles Lakers 4-1
Milwaukee Bucks 5-1
Philadelphia 76ers 8-1
Houston Rockets 14-1
Denver Nuggets 14-1
Golden State Warriors 14-1
Utah Jazz 16-1
Boston Celtics 20-1
Brooklyn Nets 20-1
Toronto Raptors 20-1
Indiana Pacers 33-1
Portland Trailblazers 40-1
Dallas Mavericks 40-1
Oklahoma City Thunder 50-1
New Orleans Pelicans 66-1
San Antonio Spurs 66-1
Miami Heat 66-1
New York Knicks 100-1
Orlando Magic 100-1
Atlanta Hawks 125-1
Minnesota Timberwolves 150-1
Chicago Bulls 150-1
Memphis Grizzlies 150-1
Washington Wizards 150-1
Detroit Pistons 150-1
Sacramento Kings 150-1
Charlotte Hornets 150-1
Cleveland Cavaliers 150-1
Phoenix Suns 250-1


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