The Denver Nuggets have won the 2023 NBA Championship in decisive fashion and now all eyes are on the 2024 season. With every offseason comes future predictions, including pipe-dream, hail Mary shots at predicting who will win the next title. According to betonline.ag, the Dallas Mavericks have the fourth-best odds to do just that:
Updated 2024 NBA Title odds per @betonline_ag:— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) June 13, 2023
At first glance, this seems unequivocally asinine. The Mavericks just had one of their worst seasons in franchise history contextually, and the teams they are ahead of (Golden State, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia) all have far more playoff success recently and will most likely retain their solid cores. It makes no sense that the Mavericks would even have better odds than Memphis or New Orleans, who are division rivals with much more sound, young groups. Why the Mavericks are getting so much consideration is directly tied to who won the championship, and what the landscape of the Western Conference is about to look like.
Firstly, the Nuggets’ historic win once again backed up the idea that if you have the best player in the world, you just have to hit on a few ancillary moves to instantly be a title favorite. If you look at the impact players for Denver outside of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, you won’t find any superstars. Christian Braun is on a rookie deal and averaged less than five points in the regular season. Bruce Brown signed under the MLE in the offseason and was maybe the fourth most important player for them in the playoffs. Michael Porter Jr. was a high school superstar that fell in the draft due to his injury history but has been a bigger Tim Hardaway Jr. for most of his career. Aaron Gordon was a good player in Orlando and took a step back to play a more important role on a winning team. All of them have this in common: they were not hard to acquire and they don’t do anything spectacularly well. They’re just good basketball players and they were acquired through good scouting and faith in the process.
That is why Dallas has the fourth-best odds. Assuming Kyrie Irving re-signs with the Mavericks, they have their Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. If the Mavericks didn’t try to build a contender in a day for the last four years, they could be the ones holding the trophy already. There are Christian Brauns and Bruce Browns aplenty if you know where to look. The draft is a great place to find them, and Dallas’ 10th pick can be the first step. They then just have to hit on one or two more moves and with Jaden Hardy and Josh Green hopefully making jumps next year, they instantly have something to build off of. With a guy like Doncic, the floor is so incredibly high that when Dallas decides to take every roster spot seriously and not just sign Theo Pinson for “vibes”, they’ll find that they are not so far away from where Denver is at.
Additionally, the landscape of the Western Conference contributes to why Dallas is supposedly fourth in line to win it all. Denver is the clear favorite above everyone else, but there aren’t many franchises in a good place after them. Memphis and New Orleans probably have bright futures but their off-the-court issues are hindering them. The Lakers, Warriors, and Suns have superstars that are aging and the Clippers are old and hurt. Sacramento is interesting but they still don’t have a guy who is the best player on a championship team. At first glance, you would laugh at Dallas’ odds to win it all, but with a little digging, you’ll find that the notion is not so crazy. Anticipating Dallas to finally wake up and do the right things, 9/1 odds are not too bad for a team that has the chance to be a top team in the NBA next season.