Early Look at Possible Sleepers for the 2022 NBA Finals
The NBA Finals just ended for 2020, and I can’t help but already look to next season. It’s honestly hard not to for so many reasons.
Obviously, The Association is pretty fresh in our minds right now, but then comes the NBA Draft, NBA free agency, and as I write this, the Olympics are getting started.
Basketball is still very much alive and well, and even when it goes away, the preparation for next year really never does.
Nick Sterling agrees, as he already took an early look at the top contenders for the 2022 NBA Finals. There were some interesting odds in that breakdown, which sparked my interest in even more value.
With that, here’s my own early look at the top sleepers for the 2022 NBA Finals.
Los Angeles Clippers (+1400)
I suppose it’s subjective as far as what makes a true sleeper, but hey, the Clippers feel egregiously mispriced here.
L.A. ties for the sixth-best NBA Finals odds at BetOnline, so right off the bat, they’re getting a tad disrespected.
Assuming Leonard is back and healthy for 2021, one would imagine a now battle-tested Clippers squad is a very real title threat. Being third in their own conference in terms of odds seems like a mild slap in the face, too.
The other thing with the Clips is that their price will probably only rise. There is much chatter involving potential offseason moves, with some thinking the franchise could make a play for Damian Lillard.
Philadelphia 76ers (+1400)
There is no getting around Philly’s collapse in the NBA playoffs this year or the fact that the regressing Ben Simmons may not be long for this city.
However, the Sixers still have one of the game’s most dominant players in Joel Embiid, and if he’s healthy, they have a shot.
Philadelphia still closed out last year as the best regular-season team in the Eastern Conference, and they have two things every team lusts after.
- Elite outside shooting
- Elite team defense
Philly ranked second in defensive efficiency last season and also cracked the top-10 in three-point shooting percentage.
That’s a good combo, and it’s even more impressive when you consider what a minus Simmons could be on offense.
The Ben Simmons trade rumors are running wild, and that needs to be figured out before you confidently bet on this team. However, the framework of a title contender is there.
Dallas Mavericks (+2500)
One could say something similar of the Mavs, who have a rising young star in Luka Doncic. In fact, he’s pretty much already “arrived,” and he’s set to enter 2021 as the favorite to win the NBA MVP.
Doncic is a beast offensively, as he can space the floor, help on the glass, draw defensive attention, and create for others at an exceptionally high level.
That helps him be a nightly triple-double threat and allowed him to put up these absurd numbers last season.
- 7 points per game
- 6 assists per game
- 8 rebounds per game
Doncic is easily the main reason to buy into Dallas as one of the best 2022 NBA Finals sleepers. He makes that offense hum, has improved his outside shooting and has shown up in the clutch time and time again.
The supporting cast could be better, but Doncic, at the very least, has been surrounded by a plethora of capable shooters.
While not always the most efficient bunch, the Mavs did rank 7th in three-pointers made a year ago, and taking the 6th most in the NBA probably contributed to their so-so percentages from long range.
Doncic could stand to work off the ball a bit more, and Dallas may want to shake things up a bit to get him some help. Part of that process may very well include a Kristaps Porzingis trade.
Whether Zinger gets dealt or not, the Mavs have a solid team, and a 22-year old Doncic will only get better. Doncic alone makes the Mavs an appealing value bet, but what they do this offseason could increase interest in a hurry.
Miami Heat (+2500)
It may almost be quitting time when it comes to the infatuation with Jimmy Butler and the Heat, but this is still a pretty talented team.
Miami did make it to the NBA Finals just two years ago, and due to the crazy short turnaround the league imposed on itself, it’s arguable they never were able to catch their breath.
The Heat may not be ready to compete for a title again as they stand, but Butler gives them a ferocious defender and closer, and Bam Adebayo is one of the better young bigs in the Eastern Conference.
Are Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, and/or Tyler Herro ready to be real fixtures of a championship contender, or are they mere pieces to dangle in prospective trades?
Miami can make a splash in free agency, but the answer to the prior question may be what decides their 2022 NBA Finals fate.
Atlanta Hawks (+2800)
Miami needs to make a call on their young guys, but that’s precisely what has fueled the surge for the Atlanta Hawks.
Trae Young has morphed into a legit superstar, and he was not shy about taking over in the NBA playoffs. Few will forget his epic explosion in a game one win over the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Unfortunately, Young and co. fizzled out after that, and the Bucks went on to win the title. There is no shame in losing to a better team – much less the team that won it all.
Sometimes progress in the NBA is all about taking baby steps. Other times, development is rapid, teams make big changes that pan out, and you have a shot at expediting your timeline.
That appears to be what the Hawks have done, as they have a game-wrecker in Young, but they’ve surrounded him with elite outside shooters and edgy defensive enforcers.
It’s led to the Hawks being a real factor at both ends of the floor.
The question is if the Hawks can keep it going. Are they the solid team that got into the playoffs or the title contender that shocked everyone en route to the ECF?
Natural progression suggests bettors need to take Atlanta seriously, and their +2800 NBA Finals odds look amazing.
Other Potential Sleepers for the 2022 NBA Finals
- Utah Jazz (+1600)
- Portland Trail Blazers (+3300)
- Boston Celtics (+3300)
Other possible 2022 NBA Finals sleepers include Utah, Portland, and Boston. The Jazz did have the best record in the league last year, so it’d be silly to completely write them off so quickly.
Still, Utah always felt a bit fraudulent, which proved to be the case when they fell in the second round. How they respond will be key, but +1600 for the team with the best record isn’t something to ignore.
Portland is interesting in the event the Damian Lillard trade rumors disappear. The Blazers brought in Chauncey Billups to get this team over the hump, and bettors will need to wonder if he can pull it off.
Boston made a big change on the sidelines with Brad Stevens stepping down as head coach. They did bring back fan-favorite Al Horford to upgrade their paint play, though, and they’ll get a healthy Jaylen Brown back next season.
The Celtics are far from a favorite, but they are at least worth a cursory glance at this +3300 price.
Overall, value is always going to be in the eye of the beholder. Anytime a title contender is mispriced, or a team with a budding superstar is overlooked, I think we should pay attention.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if one of these early sleepers for the 2022 NBA Finals is worth betting on.