Earlier today a blockbuster deal took place between the San Antonio Spurs and the Toronto Raptors which sent Kawhi Leonard to the Raptors, and DeMar DeRozen to the Spurs. And, as always, the trade has everyone losing their minds, including gamblers.
So how much did adding Kawhi to the Raptors impact their 2018-19 NBA title odds? According to the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, Leonard’s addition caused a huge shift in the odds in favor of Toronto. The Raptors went from 40/1 (opening line) to 20/1 to win the title, and went from 8/1 to 4/1 to win the East after the trade. On the flip side, the Spurs’ odds to win it all went down drastically. They went from 25/1 to 200/1 (wow), and from 50/1 to 125/1 to win the West.
Toronto comes in as the third choice in the Eastern Conference behind the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers following the deal, which makes sense. The C’s have one of the best coaches in the league in Brad Stevens, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward will both be back and healthy, and Boston brings its entire core back from last year’s exciting playoff run.
The 76ers are also bringing back their core group of guys, headlined by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and are hoping for a huge contribution from Markelle Fultz this year.
Betting-wise, let’s be real, the Raptors are highly unlikely to dethrone the Golden State Warriors. They have a new coach and, by all accounts, it seems like Leonard doesn’t even want to be there. But, if you believe Leonard is a.) is 100 percent healthy and b.) fully motivated, taking a stab at them to the win the East might be the bet worth a sprinkle. Either way, the “Kawhi effect” is real.