Big 3 in Cleveland (LeBron + Irving + Wiggins) Alter 2015 NBA Playoff Landscape

No surprise that when LeBron James decided to take his talents back to the Midwest, that he brought the title hopes back to Ohio. 

Simultaneously, the Cleveland Cavaliers became the favorites to win the 2015 NBA title. The idea that LeBron would suit up (back in his #23 jersey) with budding superstar Kyrie Irving, this year’s number one overall pick in Andrew Wiggins, last year’s #1 overall pick Anthony Bennett has significantly shifted the postseason prospects, speculation and outcome of the 2015 NBA playoffs odds. 

ESPN, using their forecast panel, recently projected that the current Cleveland lineup has a 18.03% chance of winning the NBA championship, JUST BARELY above the San Antonio Spurs odds (17.99%) at repeating for the NBA title. The OKC Thunder are a distant third with 12.79% with the Los Angeles Clippers (9.7%) and Chicago Bulls (7.84%) rounding out the top five contenders for the 2015 title.

This is all with one big caveat — the NBA championship hinges depending on where Kevin Love ends up. And because Love hasn’t chosen where he’s going to sign, all this is just NBA fanboy fodder until Love makes a decision.

According to the ESPN forecast, the NBA title will goes through the Midwest, it just won’t be Cleveland. If Love chooses the Chicago Bulls over the Cavs, that would put Love, a resurgent Derrick Rose together, and Pau Gasol in the Windy City. That triad is enough to convince the talking heads at ESPN that the Bulls are the favorites. Here’s the 2015 title odds with Kevin Love on each likely candidate:

Chicago Bulls
18.63%
Cleveland Cavaliers
18.03%
Golden State Warriors
13.21%
Minnesota Timberwolves
0.37%

How is that possible that the Cavs only would be slight favorites with Kevin Love? It’s because they would have to give up their top two picks from 2013 and 2013; both Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins would be included in a trade to obtain Kevin Love.

No doubt Lebron was the big catch of the season and Kevin Love will also make tremors wherever he ends up, but next year’s playoff odds have been affected by smaller moves (Pau Gasol, Chandler Parsons, Lance Stephenson) just as much. Let’s see how everything shakes out in the next month.

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