How have recent preseason NBA championship favourites fared?

With opening night for the 2021-22 season rapidly approaching, the title pursuit of the championship contenders is about to begin.

The Brooklyn Nets enter the season as the favourite to win the title, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers and defending champion Milwaukee Bucks.

The Lakers entered last season as the title favourite, before being eliminated in the first round by the Phoenix Suns.

Over the course of the last ten seasons, five preseason favourites have won the title.

Historical preseason odds courtesy

Season Preseason favourite Result Actual champion (preseason rank)
2020-21 Los Angeles Lakers Eliminated in first round Milwaukee Bucks (2nd)
2019-20 LA Clippers Eliminated in second round Los Angeles Lakers (2nd)
2018-19 Golden State Warriors Lost in NBA Finals Toronto Raptors (5th)
2017-18 Golden State Warriors Won championship -
2016-17 Golden State Warriors Won championship -
2015-16 Cleveland Cavaliers Won championship -
2014-15 Cleveland Cavaliers Lost in NBA Finals Golden State Warriors (8th)
2013-14 Miami Heat Lost in NBA Finals San Antonio Spurs (6th)
2012-13 Miami Heat Won championship -
2011-12 Miami Heat Won championship -

What does it mean for Brooklyn?

In short, stay healthy.

That's hardly a message the Nets need reminding of given the untimely injuries to James Harden and Kyrie Irving in the postseason.

It's also the one factor that nobody can predict when assessing who should be the title favourite. Last year, LeBron James battled an ankle injury and Anthony Davis was hurt during the first round.

In 2019 the Golden State Warriors lost Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in the NBA Finals.

In 2015 the LeBron attempted to take down the Warriors on his own after Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving suffered season ending injuries.

All things being perfect, the Nets look to be ahead of the pack. We'll see how that sits after the grind of an 82-game regular season.

The 2015 Warriors were the eighth in betting odds entering their dominant title run. In 2019 nobody predicted Kawhi Leonard would deliver a title in his first season. It is however, worth noting that only two of the last ten champions started the season outside the top five in the betting markets.

The Utah Jazz, LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat sit outside the top five. Could they be the next bolter?

The contenders are contenders for a reason. Now they just need a little bit of injury luck to help them get over the hump.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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