Vegas short changes OKC Thunder potential via 7th best odds to win 2019 title

Paul George OKC Thunder (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Paul George OKC Thunder (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Seven is the OKC Thunder lucky number this week with Vegas updating 2019 championship odds ranking six teams ahead of OKC.

Falling on the heels of OKC Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook receiving the seventh best odds to win MVP the team also ranks seventh. Vegas tends to be fairly accurate, but there are a few teams sitting in front of  OKC who seem out of place.

Logically the Golden State Warriors were going to grab the top ranking from Vegas to win the 2019 title. Still, the Dubs are the only squad you’ll have to spend more than a dollar on to win a dollar. The Warriors odds as per Odds Shark on August 16 are -195 (or 51 to 100). Ranking in seventh the OKC Thunder odds of winning are 45 to 1.

OKC Thunder seventh rank:

There will always be arguments on the ranking of squads, but more often than not Vegas bests the bettor. Still, rapid fan bases can each serve up arguments why their team should be ranked higher.

In the Thunder’s case specific objectives were earmarked for the offseason. Two primary goals were the retention of Paul George and moving Carmelo Anthony ideally without having to eat his contract. Both goals were accomplished with an A plus given George signed immediately and Melo netted assets in return.

Presumably the secondary goals were re-signing Jerami Grant, adding bench depth with a focus on playmaking and efficient perimeter scorers. General Manager Sam Presti again registers an A for checking off every list item save for 3-point snipers. This last item will have to come via internal development unless there is another trade on the horizon.

The common refrain in that regard is whether Sam Presti can reach in his hat to find one more rabbit to utilize for a Kyle Singler trade. Stay tuned as there is still time for the magician to perform one more trick.

Teams ranking ahead of the OKC Thunder are:

As for the six teams ranking ahead of OKC three are from the Eastern Conference with extremely different offseason results. The Western contenders include the top two 2017-18 squads and the LeBron James‘ Lakers.

First: Golden State Warriors at minus 195 (or 51/100)

Second: Boston Celtics – 11 to 2

Third: Lakers – 8 to 1

Fourth: Rockets – 17 to 2

Tied in Fifth: Raptors/76ers – 16 to 1


Simply put, with two former MVP’s, four All-Stars and arguably two of the best reserve players in Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston the Warriors are in a league of their own.  The addition of debatably the best offensive big man in the NBA will provide greater intrigue this season. Witnessing Boogie pout or argue with refs could cause some conflict. It’s hard to fathom Cousins has never played a single playoff game, so that alone will offer something for the Warriors to celebrate when they reach April.


The Celtics return with constancy having re-signed Marcus Smart. However, the key for Boston is the return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. The unknown is Brad Stevens may have an issue figuring out playing time especially with most of their star talent on the wing. Part of what made the Celtics so robust in 2018 was the the every man theme and defensive focus.


Following arguably his best season as a pro, the King proved like a fine wine he simply gets better with age. Captaining an atrocious Cavaliers defense and carrying a squad without much depth or talent LeBron James defied the odds. Perhaps that’s why oddsmakers rank the Lakers so high. It’s a massive leap to project a team who won just 35 games last season will be the third most likely to win the championship. LA is an odd mix of youthful inexperienced talent combined with veteran free agents most of whom don’t shoot well from the perimeter.

Hey, LeBron James is the best player in the NBA and owned the East, but I’m not convinced these Lakers won’t be in a dog fight to make the playoffs let alone grab a home court seed.


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Other than the Lakers the Rockets are a team who’ve made substantial changes in the offseason which affects their core talent. Albeit, James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela return which keeps Houston’s main core intact.

The unsung hero on Houston is P.J. Tucker who plays much bigger than his size. Pay attention to screens Tucker sets and I guarantee at least once a game you’ll notice an opponent grimace after a Tucker confrontation. Additionally, Eric Gordon provides a quality sixth man who demonstrated improved defense this past season.

At issue is the loss of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute who both provided high level defense and were happy to fulfill their roles while letting the shooters shine. Many believe the Rockets would’ve won game 7 versus the Warriors if Paul was healthy. The system they utilized against the Warriors employed a heavy dose of isolation and slowed pace. Carmelo Anthony will fit that mode well.

The question is can the Rockets retain a top seed in the West when their two power forwards are Melo and Ryan Anderson?  Rumor is Daryl Morey is shopping for defensive additions to replace the Ariza and Mbah a Moute losses. But, at what cost? The only asset Morey has to offer is Gordon who is vital to the bench scoring.


Philadelphia made the fewest moves, lost key vets and despite two up and coming stars will be a marked team. This is one of the teams which might be getting a premature excellence nod by Vegas. The 76ers just returned to the post season after years of being mired in the process. Although Philadelphia is expected to be a playoff fixture for the foreseeable future the youngsters still need to prove they can stay healthy and ascend.


The Toronto Raptors bring back the majority of their core but made the biggest changes adding a potential MVP (Kawhi Leonard), 3 and D title vet (Danny Green) and depth upfront (Greg Monroe). However, the biggest change will be the new bench boss Nick Nurse. Despite having 20 years of head coaching experience, and five years as the Raptors lead offensive assistant he is a relative unknown. That said, Nurse was responsible for the Raptors top five ranked offense each of his five seasons and it was Nurse who implemented the pass friendly offense last season.

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Rounding out the top 10:

Eight: San Antonio Spurs – 80 to 1

Nine: Utah Jazz – 90 to 1

Tied in Tenth: Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers  – 100 to 1

To view the odds of the rest of the field visit Odds Shark.