When you consider the size of NBA rosters relative to other major sports, the amount of player movement in the offseason is staggering. Of course new draftees are ready to make an impact, but even the NBA Draft is only two rounds long. It feels like a lot of things change in the summer months for the National Basketball Association.
And, yet, the more things change, the more they had stayed the same. The favorites to win the NBA Championship were always the same teams – the Warriors, the Cavs, the Spurs in their heyday, and the Rockets were always that contender that could never get over the hump.
When LeBron James took his talents from The Land to LA-LA Land, the futures board saw a major shake-up prior to the 2018-19 season. The Warriors were still up there, but so were the Lakers. The Cavs were not and they were replaced by teams like the Raptors, Celtics, Bucks, and 76ers.
Heading into the 2020 season, a newcomer to the party tops the NBA odds list and it is the “other” LA team, the Los Angeles Clippers. The additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to an already solid roster put LAC at the top of the list across the market, including the odds board at DraftKings and also at PointsBet. Fortunately, LeBron is used to being on a team that is second-best, so his Lakers sitting second is familiar territory for him.
The Short Prices
Tying up your money on teams like the Clippers (+325 at DK, +300 at PB), Lakers (+425, +500), or even the Bucks (+650, +450), 76ers (+700, +650), and even Rockets (+800, +900) for six months is really hard to do. Even though we know the NBA to be the most top-heavy of the four major sports, holding a futures ticket for a long period of time to get a modest return is difficult.
The NBA, however, is a superstar-driven league, as we know. When you look at the favorites, you see the teams that have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook. Each and every one of those players is a premier candidate to win the Most Valuable Player Award. It may simply be best to pick one or two of these teams and ride it out.
Among that group, looking at the Eastern Conference squads makes the most sense. The Bucks and 76ers are the only teams from the East in the top eight on the futures board. With six of the top eight in the West, the path to the Finals would appear to be tougher for teams like the Lakers, Clippers, and Rockets. Even teams like the Jazz, Warriors, and Nuggets pose a threat.
The luxury of betting with these New Jersey sportsbooks is that you can shop around for the best prices from the convenience of home. DraftKings offers the best price right now on both the Bucks and the 76ers, but that won’t always be the case. Given how the Milwaukee Bucks played for first-year head coach Mike Budenholzer, and given that they survived a tough injury to a key piece in Malcolm Brogdon for most of the season, they would be the preferred team among the short prices.
Brogdon is now gone, having been traded to the Pacers, but the Bucks bolstered their depth with guys like Kyle Korver and Wesley Matthews. They also have the best player in the Eastern Conference, which really matters, as we’ve seen with LBJ’s reign of terror and the Raptors last year with Kawhi.
The Long Shots
What about some long shots? While these teams would be mid-range prices in other sports, the nature of the NBA just makes them long shots. The Indiana Pacers stand out at +5000 at both DraftKings and PointsBet. Victor Oladipo will be out until midseason at the earliest, but a fresh Oladipo for the stretch run once he shakes off the rust will provide a big boost.
It is clear that the Pacers have really worked to improve their depth and picked up TJ Warren, an uber-talented guard with an iffy health history, and are also going to rely on youngsters like Domantas Sabonis and an improved big in Myles Turner. The Pacers were 25-11 with Oladipo last year and 23-23 without him, so they managed to hang on and actually played pretty well once the shock of losing him wore off. Indiana lost four straight in the immediate aftermath of that gruesome injury.
One other profitable angle can be to get a long shot into the playoffs with the opportunity to hedge. Teams like Miami, Dallas, New Orleans, Minnesota, and Detroit have no chance at winning the NBA Title, but if they can get into the postseason, you can hedge against the value of your futures ticket.
One such team with some playoff upside at a long price is the Orlando Magic. By betting +15000 at PointsBet, you open up a lot of hedging possibilities with a team that made the playoffs last season at 42-40. The Miami Heat added Jimmy Butler, but the Charlotte Hornets lost Kemba Walker. Nobody knows what direction the Washington Wizards are going in. With a lot of bottom-feeders in the East, the door is open for the Magic to win the Southeast Division with four quality scorers and a veteran head coach in Steve Clifford.