2021 NBA Odds and Team Tier List

With the new NBA season about to start on December 22, it's time to look at how teams are starting to mold up for the upcoming season, and what better way to do so than with a tier list.

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The NBA teams will be classified into the following tiers:

  • Contenders
  • Conference Power Teams
  • Playoff Hopefuls
  • Can We Get to the Playoffs?
  • Bad Teams


These teams have the caliber -and obligation- to win the NBA championship. They have the talent and the pressure to come out on top of the NBA Finals.

  • Los Angeles LakersThey are the reigning champions, they have LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and a solid core. They will be in contention unless injuries harm them a lot.
  • Los Angeles ClippersKawhi Leonard joined by one of the best cores and Ty Lue as head coach; plus, they need revenge for their disappointment last year. The Clippers should come strong this season.
  • Brooklyn NetsKevin Durant is back, Kyrie Irving is with him, joint by a playoff-caliber team, and Steve Nash as head coach, the Nets have to come out of the East.
  • Milwaukee BucksYou have the two-time reigning MVP and a team full of chemistry. It's time for them to win the big one or risk Giannis leaving.

Conference Power Teams:

These franchises can pull it big and go to the finals but are a bit below the top contenders. Big stars, but they lack some depth, coaching, or experience in their roster.

  • Boston CelticsThey have three years been near the Finals now. Jayson Tatum is now a superstar, Kemba Walker is a baller, and Jaylen Brown is still growing. The team has enough chemistry, add a few more pieces in the frontcourt, and you have a complete roster all-around.
  • Denver NuggetsThey have one of the deadliest 1-2 punch in the NBA with Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Add depth and shooters, and they can surprise anyone in the West.
  • Miami HeatThey just went to the NBA Finals and are only getting better. Instead of being the Cinderella, they'll be ones-to-watch now.
  • Dallas MavericksLuka Doncic is coming into his third year, and he is already an MVP caliber player. Joint by Kristapz Porzingis. Add perimeter defense and depth, and you have a team capable of beating anyone.

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Playoff Hopefuls:

If your team is here, it means they are getting to the playoffs more likely than not, but they would need to pull upsets again and again to be more than just a participant in the postseason.

  • Toronto Raptors: They have to deal with lots of contracts and lack star-power, but are one of the most solid rosters all around.
  • Utah Jazz: Donovan Mitchell is amazing, Rudy Gobert is a defensive unit, the rest of the team didn't live up to their talents last time out. Having Bojan Bogdanovic back will be huge for them.
  • Indiana Pacers: Victor Oladipo will be fully healthy, and the Pacers are a team often overlooked, but they are solid and rough riders. Also, TJ Warren really stepped up in the Bubble. If he keeps that form, he can be an incredible second option.
  • Houston RocketsMike D'Antoni left, which should boost this team, but I am not buying the Rockets yet. James Harden and Russell Westbrook are regular-season monsters, but the postseason tends to bring them down.
  • Portland Trail-Blazers: The Blazers have one of the best starting lineups in the game. Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony, Zach Collins, and Jusuf Nurkic is an absolute dream of a lineup. Depth is a huge issue.
  • Philadelphia 76ers: It's getting to the point where the Sixers need a successful season, otherwise they may lose one of their stars in Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid. It's now or never for them.

Can We Get To The Playoffs?

The teams that are probably good enough to fight for a playoff spot but that will likely face an early exit.

  • Oklahoma City Thunder: They were the revelation last season, but losing Chris Paul may be a major downside. He was their captain and best player. They also changed head coach, so they'll fight for a spot, but not much more.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: Their duo is now healthy, and they have the first overall draft pick. A big three of Lamelo Ball -probably-, D'Angelo Rusell, and Karl Anthony Towns can get you to the postseason, but they lack depth.
  • Phoenix Suns: Finally, it looks like the Suns have finally put a decent project and have a star in Devin Booker. They went undefeated in the Bubble (8-0) and can only get better.
  • New Orleans PelicansThey have an impressive young core; if they stay healthy, with Zion at the helm, they can get to the playoffs no doubt, but they lack experience and depth.
  • Memphis GrizzliesThey barely get to this tier, the Grizzlies are a good team, but they depend too much on Ja Morant's output. Without him, they are a lackluster team.
  • San Antonio SpursPopovich is facing one of his toughest times as head coach of the Spurs. They have some talent, but they don't have much balance. They're either too old of players or too young; there's no link between them.
  • Orlando Magic: The Magic has an exciting team, but they are just not good enough to compete at a high playoffs-level.
  • Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal is a flat-out baller. Now, his partner in the backcourt, John Wall, will be back, and that's an explosive duo. However, they lack shooters and depth to cause harm in the postseason.
  • Atlanta Hawks: Ok, I may be overreacting with the Hawks, but they are a young squad, with Trae Young and other good shooters. Plus, they are in the East, their progress could reward them, but this is a reach.

Bad Teams:

These teams are plain bad. No playoffs hope for them, we have some awful teams here.

  • New York Knicks: No talent, no project, not a good franchise. While James Dolan remains their owner, this team won't prosper.
  • Charlotte Hornets: They have exciting players, but that's it. 
  • Detroit Pistons: They should be better than what they are. The issue is simple: their perimeter is dreadful. D-Rose and Blake Griffin are their bright lights.
  • Sacramento Kings: Young, fast team, but they seem to come up short every single time in the weirdest ways. They are entertaining, but if that doesn't translate into wins, it's useless.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: Oh man, they have young players in their backcourt, with Andre Drummond and Kevin Love on the frontcourt, yet they lose night in and night out.