ESPN has been doing their NBA Basketball Power Index Playoff Odds for a number of years. This metric is built on measuring any given team’s strength and then simulating 10,000 seasons based on every team’s BPI.
Well, guess what?
According to their latest release, one team is the favorite. And not just the favorite, but an OVERWHELMING favorite. Maybe the biggest favorite in NBA history.
ESPN gives the Milwaukee Bucks a surreal 83.1% chance of winning the title this year.
Can we just all agree on how preposterous giving ANY team an 83% chance of winning it all in one of the most unpredictable and unprecedented times in history? Every player has been quarantined in their homes for months on end, without all of the normal equipment that a professional basketball player might need to be ready for the playoffs. Jason Tatum mentioned in April that he hadn’t touched a ball in over a month because he didn’t have a hoop where he was quarantined.
Giannis, your reigning MVP and star player on the team ESPN is already crowning the champion also didn’t have access to a hoop where he was quarantined in Milwaukee.
"I don’t have access to a hoop," the Milwaukee Bucks forward said Friday during a conference call. "A lot of NBA players might have a court in their house or something, I don’t know, but now I just get my home workouts, [go] on the bike, treadmill, lift weights, stay sharp that way."
Lebron on the other hand, never missed a beat. According to this NBA article from April:
“LeBron has a house with a full weight room and he has an outdoor court. He’s got a different reality right now that gives him a little more access to continue the normal. [Hawks rookie] Cam Reddish lives in an apartment and it’s probably a two-bedroom apartment. He can’t go in the apartment weight room because it’s a public facility. So he’s limited in all things."
And I know you’re not naive enough to believe he didn’t have teammates over to run scrimmages and get that work in. Later in quarantine, there were rumblings of secret Laker practices happening at an undisclosed location.
Yeah. Lebron’s house.
And as a longtime Blazer fan, the fact that ESPN is giving a team that made it to the Western Conference Finals last year a 0% chance of winning a title just feels a little outrageous.
The Blazers had better odds in 2019 than after a long break where stars like Nurkic and young up and comers like Zach Collins are back 100% healthy. With Melo, Whiteside, Nurk and Collins back, this Blazers team could be deadly.
Chris Haynes recently said the same thing on the Bill Simmons podcast.
“If Portland gets the play-in game, I think they win it. And if Portland is in this thing, Bill, to me, they’re the most dangerous team in this league. I think if they get in, even if it’s the Lakers at the No. 1 seed, Portland has the potential to take the Lakers to the distance. And if they happen to get by the Lakers, you could see them in the Finals, man.”
This is just another example of nerds in the back trying to be Billy Bean and when you finally toss the rock up, a lot goes out the window. It’s a game of matchups and we don’t know what’s going to happen especially when COVID could strike any team, any player, at any time. If a player like Giannis or Bron gets COVID in the first round of the playoffs, and has to quarantine for 14 days after symptoms subside, that could be a wrap for that team altogether.
To show how fast things can change, breaking right now, Zion Williamson had to leave the bubble due to a family emergency. If this happened in the playoffs, would he have to quarantine upon return for 14 days? There’s so many moving parts that anyone who thinks they have any idea what’s going to happen is delusional.
So let this be a lesson for any NBA fan with a team still standing, or any of you degenerate gamblers out there. No one has any idea what’s going to happen. I don’t care how many times you simulate the 2019-2020 season, you can’t take into the account the effect of isolation, of the lack of fans, of no home-court advantage, of the Thot Bubble and a million other variables of this unique season. And while the Bucks are a wagon, there has never been (or likely will ever be again) a more wide-open playoffs than this.