The addition of Michael Conley to the Utah Jazz solidifies an underrated Western Conference squad, but how does that affect futures prices
The Utah Jazz made it to the Western Conference playoffs in 2019, and despite being felled by the Houston Rockets in five games, the Jazz showed that young swingman Donovan Mitchell has the potential to be a star player in this league. With the trade for a veteran point guard like Conley from a similar gritty Western Conference team, the Jazz might quietly add one of the few missing pieces they desperately need to be a competitive squad in the conference.
But bettors just want to know, is it enough to make a bet on it?
Utah is Better, but Bettors Beware
The Utah Jazz’s odds of winning the NBA Finals in 2019 opened at around +3300 and money moved their price down to about +2500 in most markets, which gives the Jazz about a four-percent chance of winning and reigning victorious. And while it doesn’t sound like they have a puncher’s chance, the price is right about where they should be, perhaps, even a little too cheap.
At 2500 in a conference with the now-stacked Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, and two rising powers in the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets, the Utah Jazz are quietly getting better. And while the addition of Conley certainly does that, it remains to be seen whether or not such an addition is really enough to make the Jazz the team to beat. Frankly, adding an aging floor general never known for deadly scoring is hardly a play that makes the Jazz world-beaters.
Conley, while a great two-way player and experienced veteran, does little to make the Jazz leaps and bounds better than previous seasons. While it takes the ball-handling responsibility out of the likes of Mitchell and others in halfcourt situations, situations where Conley felt at home at when in Memphis, it is hardly a move that is going to result in earth-shattering improvements over previous years.
All in all, the move is a solid one, but there are still better “sharp” futures plays if you like a longshot with a puncher’s chance.
In the Western Conference, the de facto favorite’s title bestowed upon the Los Angeles Lakers doesn’t particularly make much sense. Frankly, the team has done absolutely nothing to prove that it’s worthy of the title, and in the long term, there will have to be much more in the way of actual games played before there is any value in such a play.
At +450, the implied price is approximately 18 percent of a Lakers winning the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of the year, hardly anything to get excited about when we have never seen the team play. Hardly a longshot play, the point is this: There is going to be new blood winning the Western Conference after a five-season span where the Golden State Warriors absolutely put in work.
Denver Nuggets +1800: Not much “better” on paper than the Jazz, the Denver Nuggets have a complete team, phenomenal coaching, and as good a chance as anyone to win the Western Conference. Not a bad shot for an 18-1 team that was a Game 7 away from facing off against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.
Portland Trail Blazers +3300: At 33-to-1, essentially a three-percent chance of implied victory, you’re getting a team that faced off against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals (albeit losing in four games) and has one of the best (if not the best) scoring guard combos in the league.
Without Jusuf Nurkic and a “wounded” Damian Lillard, this is a team has shown it has the firepower and guts to win big games. In a wide-open Western Conference, they are absolutely worth a shot here.