NBA championship odds: Lakers favored as league restarts in Orlando

NBA championship odds: Lakers favored as league restarts in Orlando

Three months ago, the sports world began to stop when the NBA suspended its season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The league reportedly is slated to restart with 22 teams heading to Orlando to play in a bubble beginning July 31. When the league paused, the Los Angeles Lakers were the top team in the Western Conference with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks running away with the East.

While the Warriors will be watching the action from home after their pause year, Dub Nation will have plenty of rooting interest in the Disney World Cup Larry O'Brien Trophy.

LeBron James and the Warriors' rival Lakers sit atop the betting odds for when the season resumes with the club boasting 5-2 odds (meaning you bet $100 to win $250), with the Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers sporting 3-1 odds to win the title, per SuperBookUSA at Westgate. Meanwhile, James Harden and Houston Rockets -- who have to be smiling that the Warriors won't be in their way this year -- and Boston Celtics sit at 16-1. The Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers round out the top of the board at 20-1.

These are unprecedented circumstances, so it's hard to analyze a betting board when the teams will have been off for almost five months once they return to action.

When the action was paused it appeared the Bucks were destined to meet either the Lakers or Clippers in the NBA Finals, but there is little telling how rusty teams will be when play resumes. While the long layoff might ding rhythm initially, the layoff could end up being a good thing for James and the Lakers. The pause gave a 35-year-old James a break to let his body recharge for a playoff run. James takes excellent care of his body, but at 35 there's a chance all the minutes would wear on him at the end of a normal playoff run. That shouldn't be a problem now.

Playing games in Orlando should, in theory, help a team like the 76ers who have struggled mightily on the road this season. With all games being played in Orlando, the 76ers now can rely on their talent and not have to worry about opposing arenas.

The Utah Jazz seem a bit too high on this board given they will be without Bojan Bogdanovic when the season resumes.

[RELATED: Warriors can find silver linings from lost 2019-20 season]

As for the longshots, the Zion Williamson-led Pelicans at 80-1 are an intriguing bet. A young team with fresh legs and star power who doesn't know any better absolutely could play spoiler and upend the unusual playoffs.

Warriors fans no doubt will be rooting hard against James and the Lakers, as well as Antetokounmpo and the Bucks as they hope another playoff failure will help push the Greek Freak to the Bay.

With no home-court advantage, no fans and a long break, it's impossible to look at this board as anything other than a dart throw. But the good news is that we have a board.

The NBA is back.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

How Steph Curry, Warriors' brand continues to make huge global impact

How Steph Curry, Warriors' brand continues to make huge global impact

Despite the down season and not being one of the 22 teams invited to the Orlando restart, the Warriors still manage to be a global phenomenon.

In an interview with The Athletic, P.K. Ong, co-founder of the SG Basketball academy which has multiple venues in Singapore, said that’s apparent. It showed quickly with the pace of the way they sell out of a certain superstar’s jersey. 

“Whenever you go into a (sporting goods) store, Steph Curry jerseys are the first thing you see when you walk in," Ong said. "They’re everywhere,."

Ong also told The Athletic, the shift changed in who the kids he coached looked up to off the court as well. They went from being huge Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant fans to wanting to shoot three-pointers like Steph.

Don’t we all want that?

Back in 2018, a group of the campers joined Ong for a trip to the Bay Area. They went on a tour of the Warriors practice facility and ran drills with some of the coaching staff. It was a “dream come true,” for the kids.

The global influence doesn’t stop there. Klay Thompson, AKA #ChinaKlay made a persona for himself when with his popularity surging in the country and his shoe deal with the Chinese brand Anta.

And I mean, check out the turnout when he arrives:

[RELATED: Bronny James jokes Steph is his dad]

Steph made a trip to Japan last summer with hopes of growing the game of basketball across the world, and the moment he got off the plane, it was chaos, but in the best way.

He, along with the team, make an impact everywhere they go. 

Warriors' Rick Welts shares funny story of being mistaken for Joe Lacob

Warriors' Rick Welts shares funny story of being mistaken for Joe Lacob

Warriors team president Rick Welts went to Croatia for vacation in the summer of 2018.

Wearing a Warriors hat in a restaurant resulted in a waiter saying, "Curry, yeah!" Welts recently explained to Daniel Brown of The Athletic.

Soon thereafter, other employees began to believe they were in the presence of Warriors owner Joe Lacob.

“He just started screaming to his co-workers there, ‘Joe Lacob! Joe Lacob! Joe Jacob!' " Welts told Brown. “I was waving, ‘No, no, no!’ but I gave up.

"So, I impersonated Joe Lacob — and got really good service from this really tiny restaurant in Croatia.”

Now that is a savvy play from a seasoned veteran.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Welts has helped turn the Warriors into a global brand, which is why the franchise elected not to change its name to the San Francisco Warriors when they relocated from Oakland to Chase Center.

"What's happened in the interim is the Warriors, with the success we've had on the floor, have now become the team that everyone knows around the world," Welts told Warriors radio voice Tim Roye in April 2017. "More Steph Curry jerseys are sold around the world than any other player in the NBA. More Warriors merchandise than any other team in the NBA.

"So now, I think we've done a 100 percent reversal, saying, 'You know, we have a lot of equity in this Golden State name and it really means something around the world.' "

And that includes Croatia.

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