The most sought after free agent in Basketball has finally chosen his next destination, and LA Lakers fans will be forgiven for being slightly bleary eyed as they celebrate the signing of LeBron James.
After four years in his second stint in Cleveland and four consecutive NBA Finals (one win, three losses against Golden State), James has chosen the team that was once dominated by Kobe Bryant and went on a Warriors-like period of domination at the turn of the millennium.
Oddschecker Spokesman George Elek commented: “Lebron James has chosen the Lakers and every other team in the NBA should be wary of this storied franchise right now.
“After a few lean years, LA are right back into the mix almost straight away and the shift in odds from 8s into 3/1 for next season’s Championship shows the importance of the 33-year-old, as if anybody was in any doubt.”
To show how much this move means for the Lakers: Compare their odds before and after announcing James as their player. Last night you could have got 8/1 on LA securing their first NBA Finals victory since 2010. Now, they are as short as 3/1 in places to end the Golden State dynasty, with a best price of 9/2 available.
Contrast that with the Cavaliers, a team that has gone from a 25/1 shot at the end of June to a staggering 500/1 best price. Granted, there are factors outside of James’ departure that contribute to this, but it’s still shocking to a see a team that competed at the upper echelons for that long slip to that big a price.
As you can expect, the move has punters backing the Lakers next season in their droves: Since the deal was announced, 52% of all NBA Championship bets have gone on LA, far more than any other team. The Warriors are the next most popular team, with support still coming in for them at 22%.
Golden State still have a way to go to match the Celtics’ eight Championships in a row from the 50’s and 60’s, but they are 5/4 best price to win their third consecutive title and their sixth in the last seven years.