NBA Betting Picks for the 2018-19 Season – My Top Recommended Wagers Before Opening Night

By Noah Davis
Published on October 16, 2018
NBA Betting Picks

The start of the 2018-19 NBA regular season arrives on Tuesday night as four of the best teams in the league face off in a fun two-game slate.

The defending champion Golden State Warriors lead the charge, as they battle the Oklahoma City Thunder.

On the other side in the East, the Boston Celtics hope to live up to their label as the team to beat when they host the Philadelphia 76ers.

It’s bound to be a fun first night of NBA action, and bettors will also have plenty to consider from a betting perspective.

There’s a lot more than just this first two-game slate to think about in the world of NBA betting, of course, as a slew of preseason NBA futures are set to either expire or change drastically.

To get you amped for the new year, let’s break down all of the top NBA bets available right now at the leading online sports betting sites.

All odds that are referenced in this post were taken from on 10/15/2018. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.

2018-19 NBA Finals Winner Odds

The defending champs open the new year as the clear favorites to win again, holding a nice -175 price over at

While the Dubs are the easy bet up top, they’re not the only team you can throw cash at and have a decent chance of getting a return on your investment.

Check out the latest NBA Finals winner odds before making any wagers.

Golden State Warriors-175
Boston Celtics+600
Houston Rockets+800
Los Angeles Lakers+1000
Philadelphia 76ers+1400
Toronto Raptors+1600
Oklahoma City Thunder+5000
Milwaukee Bucks+6600
Utah Jazz+6600
San Antonio Spurs+8000
Indiana Pacers+10000
New Orleans Pelicans+10000
Portland Trail Blazers+12500
Denver Nuggets+15000
Minnesota Timberwolves+15000
Washington Wizards+15000
Detroit Pistons+ODDS
Miami Heat+25000
Charlotte Hornets+50000
Los Angeles Clippers+50000
Memphis Grizzlies+50000
Brooklyn Nets+100000
Chicago Bulls+100000
Cleveland Cavaliers+100000
Dallas Mavericks+100000
New York Knicks+100000
Orlando Magic+100000
Phoenix Suns+100000
Atlanta Hawks+250000
Sacramento Kings+250000

It’s always important to keep in mind that the NBA isn’t like most professional sports leagues in the sense that teams do not experience crazy one-year turnarounds.

The only team here that qualifies would be the Lakers (+1000), and the top betting sites have already sharply addressed their odds with King James on board.

Truth be told, your champion is almost certainly coming out of the first six teams, all of which have +1600 NBA Finals odds or greater at at the moment.

Golden State is your obvious favorite after winning it all last year, and Boston makes a lot of sense as their top threat from the East.The best value may be the Raptors, who were already a threat last year and got way better by trading for Kawhi Leonard.

If you want to roll the dice, I wouldn’t drift too far from this six-pack of teams.

However, considering the Eastern Conference is pretty much up in the air with LeBron James abandoning the Cavs, I do think the Bucks (+6600) and Indiana Pacers (+10000) are at least worth a cursory glance.

Teams that are overpriced right now include the Spurs (+8000) and Timberwolves (+15000).

San Antonio barely made the playoffs last year, and their conference is getting deeper. They also are dealing with a rash of injuries and are in danger of missing the playoffs. They’re simply not a title threat this year.

Minnesota secured the 8th seed last year and basically backed into it. Looking at all of the Jimmy Butler drama, I think they’re also at risk of not even making the playoffs.

Ultimately, I see the Lakers, Raptors, Celtics, and Rockets as the only viable bets outside of the Warriors. That being said, Golden State is still the best team out there, and provided they can stay healthy, this is again their championship to lose.

PICKGolden State Warriors-175

Odds to Win Eastern Conference

You can also bet on who will simply get to the 2018-19 NBA Finals. It’s a lot more compelling from the East, as there are admittedly a few teams I could see making it that far.

Boston (+100) is the obvious top candidate at most betting sites, especially now that Kyrie Irving is staying in town. They were one win away from doing so just last year, and that was with both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward sidelined. With those two healthy, Boston makes a lot of sense here.

I really like the value associated with the Raptors, though.

If you don’t love Toronto to beat the Dubs or whoever else emerges from the Western Conference, that’s fine. But let’s not underestimate the impact of getting Kawhi Leonard.

Provided the Raptors don’t panic and trade him away, Kahwi Leonard makes Toronto (+400) a very enticing bet to at least reach the Finals.

The East rounds out with the 76ers (+350), Bucks (+1600), Pacers (+2500), and Wizards (+2500) being your most logical bets.

Philly is in theory absolutely loaded, but they lost some shooting and are trying to force Markelle Fultz into being a big piece of the puzzle. I’m not sold it works, and I’d definitely take Toronto and Boston over them.

I’m warming up to the Bucks, as they’re as dynamic as anyone and offer amazing value at +1600. They’re a more complete team than Indy or Washington, but both of those teams are worth a look at their sweet +2500 price tags.

The two bets I’m sticking to are Boston and Toronto. The Celtics are the safer pick, but I don’t mind aiming high here and rolling with the Raptors.

PICKToronto Raptors+400

Odds to Win Western Conference

It’s not as intense in the West. King James going to La La Land does make the Lakers relevant, but there are some who don’t even believe this is a playoff team.

That’s not a crazy notion, seeing as the Pelicans, Nuggets, and others will be pushing for a playoff spot as well.

Making the playoffs isn’t the end game, though. The best teams are trying to win a title, and only a handful can really be taken seriously. The Dubs (-250) are the easy favorites, but if you’re placing money on them, there’s an argument for just taking the value with betting on them to win it all at -175.

Consider the Rockets (+500) instead, as they pushed the Dubs to the brink of elimination in the Western Conference Finals last year and could easily take the next step this season.

Houston is a good play here and is worth a flier bet, and that’s really the only other team from this side of the league I’d go for. That being said, the Dubs are getting to the Finals again and probably winning. So the safer pick ultimately makes the most sense.

PICKGolden State Warriors-250

NBA Division Odds

Atlantic Division

This is actually one of the tougher NBA divisions to figure out. Toronto took the Atlantic and the top seed in the East last year, but it wasn’t before the Celtics looked like the best team in the league to start the season.

Going into the 2018-19 NBA season, this figures to be a tight two-team race. Still, it’s worth noting everyone’s odds to win the Atlantic Division.

Boston Celtics-110
Toronto Raptors+225
Philadelphia 76ers+300
Brooklyn Nets+6600
New York Knicks+10000

Psych! This is actually a three-team race, which further complicates matters.

I do think it’s mostly between the Celtics and Raptors, but Philly looked great last year. Barring the potential aforementioned regression, they could again chase 50+ wins and have a shot here.

I really like the value with Toronto to get to the Finals this year, so while I respect the Celtics, I’m going to keep soaking that up and target them at this sweet +225 price.


Central Division

This one truly is a two-team race, as the Cavs are almost certainly out of the running this year. That leaves you with the Pacers and Bucks.

Here are the odds for every team in the Central Division, per

Milwaukee Bucks+100
Indiana Pacers+140
Detroit Pistons+700
Cleveland Cavaliers+2500
Chicago Bulls+3300

Giannis Antetokounmpo leads a stacked Bucks team that brought in reinforcements this offseason. They drafted explosive guard Donte DiVincenzo and also signed Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova.

With Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, and Khris Middleton already on the roster, Milwaukee figures to be significantly better and could get to 50 wins this season.

You could say the same for the Pacers, of course. Indy brought in Tyreke Evans, drafted Aaron Holiday, and could get an even better Victor Oladipo than what we saw a year ago.

All of this creates a tight race up top, while I’m not giving much thought to the Pistons or any other team in this division. Their prices are nice, but the talent gap is just too evident.

It’s a close call, but the Bucks are on the rise and have title aspirations on the brain.


Southeast Division

This is another Eastern Conference division where you probably just need to focus on two teams: Miami and Washington.

Charlotte is always somewhat in the mix, but they regressed last year and didn’t make enough positive changes to give themselves a big boost this season. There’s also the Magic and Hawks, but nobody is expecting big leaps from them, either.

Here are everyone’s odds for 2018-19.

Washington Wizards-125
Miami Heat+150
Charlotte Hornets+1000
Orlando Magic+2000
Atlanta Hawks+6600

Washington seemed to get better this summer, as they landed Dwight Howard, Jeff Green, and Austin Rivers in hopes of putting together a more balanced roster. I think they accomplished that, but there is hesitance with any team rostering Howard, as his teams haven’t had high-level success in years.

Howard is already having back issues this year, too, so it’s going to be tough to buy the Wiz at this price.

I’m all over Miami here, as they are pretty much the same competitive team they were last year when they stole the division. Dwyane Wade returns for his swan song, and Miami is just loaded with solid talent.

They lack a true superstar, but Goran Dragic still sets the tone offensively, and a bounce-back season from Hassan Whiteside could make this a top-four squad in the East. If the Jimmy Butler trade rumors end up being true, the Heat would be a lock here.

Charlotte is the only other team to consider here, but they simply don’t have the talent to make it happen this season. The Magic are also still building, while the Hawks might be the worst team in the entire NBA.


Northwest Division

Out West we go, as bettors have a truly tough task on their hands if they want to predict the winner of the extremely tight Northwest Division.

Portland won this division last year but got a heck of a fight out of the entire division. Literally every team won at least 46 games last season, while the Blazers took the top spot with 49 wins.

The only team I’m not considering here is the Timberwolves, who look like strong bets to give in to Jimmy Butler’s trade demands at some point.

Keep in mind Minnesota’s likely regression when you take a look at the latest Northwest Division odds.

Utah Jazz+175
Oklahoma City Thunder+250
Denver Nuggets+350
Portland Trail Blazers+700
Minnesota Timberwolves+800

Everyone is viable here, but I do get why Utah is up top at and other basketball betting sites. They boast one of the best defensive units in the league, while Donovan Mitchell has blossomed into a true superstar.

While the Jazz absolutely could win this division and deserve your consideration, they won’t have it easy.

OKC got better by retaining PG-13 and adding guys like Nerlens Noel and Dennis Schroder. I don’t think it’s quite enough just yet, but they’re definitely on the right track.

I also can’t ignore the rising Nuggets, who may have secured a playoff spot last year if they hadn’t spent much of the year with big man Paul Millsap on the shelf due to injury. Denver has one of the best centers in the league in Nikola Jokic, while the roster around him is versatile and deep.

The Nuggets are a very real threat here and offer killer value at +350, but who has a better price than the Blazers?

Portland literally won last season, yet they’re being priced like some trash unit that doesn’t have a chance. Not only is this their division title to defend, but the Blazers still have one of the best guard tandems in the league with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum running the show.

On top of that, the Blazers brought back Jusuf Nurkic to keep a solid defense glued together and improved their already solid depth by adding shooters in Seth Curry and Nik Stauskas. If second-year big man Zach Collins can take the next step in his development, this could be one of the best teams in the entire conference.

I see everyone as threats here, but Portland offers way too much value.


Pacific Division

This is another division that is at best down to just two teams. The Warriors are the obvious favorites, but LeBron James going to the Lakers does complicate things a bit.

Here are the odds for the Pacific Division this year.

Golden State Warriors-1500
Los Angeles Lakers+800
LA Clippers+3300
Phoenix Suns+10000
Sacramento Kings+25000

Golden State is uber stacked and is the favorite to win the title again, so there’s little doubt they’re winning this division.

Normally, I’d say you can at least consider a flier bet elsewhere, but you really can’t. The Lakers are your only option, but they still have a lot of work ahead of them. Making the playoffs is realistic, but winning this division simply isn’t.

The Clippers will be competitive, and the Suns could be a bit better, but neither are realistic threats to Golden State. The Kings will be among the worst teams in the league.

You’re almost wasting your money betting on the Dubs at this ridiculous -1500 price, but it’s the only wager I can suggest here with any actual confidence. It’s pretty close to a lock, so there’s still SOME semblance of value here.


Southwest Division

This is an interesting division, partially because the Rockets again feel like locks to win it and also because I fear the Spurs are headed for a huge collapse.

Houston leads the way here, and rightfully so after finishing last year with the most wins in the NBA.

Houston Rockets-400
New Orleans Pelicans+600
San Antonio Spurs+800
Memphis Grizzlies+3300
Dallas Mavericks+5000

Houston actually has a terrific price. They should be priced closer to where the Warriors are, but by comparison, you’re getting some decent value.

I’m not factoring the Spurs in here. They lost Kawhi Leonard, and in the past few years, they’ve said goodbye to Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green, and Tim Duncan as well.

This isn’t the same title-contending Spurs you’re used to. I like the duo of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge just fine, but there’s a decent chance this rendition of the Spurs doesn’t even make the playoffs.

Memphis was one of the worst teams in the league last year, and even at full strength, they still don’t pose a serious threat. Dallas is going to be markedly better after a slew of positive additions, but they still won’t be ready to storm the castle.

The only team I’d give a shot is the Pelicans. They have Anthony Davis, who says he’s the best player in the NBA. He might be right, and that’s a pretty good reason to take a flier on the Pels at a sweet +600 price.

It’s worth a shot, but the Rockets are still the team to beat here, and it’s by quite a bit. They still have James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela, while the addition of Carmelo Anthony should only help their offense.

Houston might see a slight dip from their 65 wins of a year ago, but this division is still theirs to lose.


NBA Rookie of the Year Odds

From the NBA Finals and division winner odds, we go to who might win the 2018-19 NBA Rookie of the Year.

Last year, it was actually a really intense race between Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell, but this year, it may not be as simple as a two-man competition.

You really need to consider numerous options if you plan on betting on the 2018-19 NBA Rookie of the Year. Here are the latest odds over at

Luka Doncic, F, Dallas Mavericks +250
Deandre Ayton, C, Phoenix Suns+275
Collin Sexton, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers+700
Kevin Knox, F, New York Knicks+700
Marvin Bagley, F, Sacramento Kings+1000
Trae Young, PG, Atlanta Hawks+1000
Jaren Jackson Jr., F, Memphis Grizzlies+1400
Wendell Carter Jr., F, Chicago Bulls+1600
Michael Porter Jr., F, Denver Nuggets+2000
Mohamed Bamba, C, Orlando Magic+2000
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, G, Los Angeles Clippers+2500
Harry Giles, F, Sacramento Kings+2800
Lonnie Walker, SG, San Antonio Spurs+3300
Miles Bridges, F, Charlotte Hornets+3300
Donte DiVincenzo, G, Milwaukee Bucks+5000
Mikal Bridges, F, Phoenix Suns+5000
Robert Williams, F, Boston Celtics+5000
Zhaire Smith, SG, Philadelphia 76ers+5000

I do think this is a wide-open race in terms of talent and upside. However, not everyone here will have the role or supporting cast to get the job done.

Jaren Jackson, Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter, and Mohamed Bamba are all guys that are on the board and offer terrific value but just don’t have a clear path to delivering for you.

Collin Sexton might not even offer you enough upside, as it was recently announced that George Hill would open the season as Cleveland’s top point guard. As long as Sexton is held back, it’s going to be awfully difficult for him to come through with the win.

I’m valuing Trae Young, Kevin Knox, Deandre Ayton, and Luka Doncic above everyone else by quite a bit. Young and Knox will be on awful teams, but they will have big roles from the jump. If they put up eye-popping stats and help their teams keep their heads above water, they’ll have a shot near the end of the season.

This is likely down to Doncic or Ayton, though.

Doncic has an extremely versatile skill-set and will threaten to be an impact scorer from day one. I just think it’s going to be a little harder for him to make an impact in terms of huge numbers.

Ayton is a physical marvel, while he’s going to easily rack up points, rebounds, and blocked shots. I think lifting the Suns is a bit more impressive than helping Dallas at this point, too. It only helps that Ayton has the better price.

PICKDeandre Ayton+275


There are few sports awards as coveted as the NBA MVP award. Maybe it’s because to win it you need to do two things: put up elite numbers on a nightly basis over the course of a long 82-game season and be on a successful team.

Usually, anyone who wins league MVP needs to be the top player on their own team first and then a truly sensational piece of the NBA puzzle. Could the league do without their performance that year? If not, they have a pretty good shot at claiming the award.

Two years ago, Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double and pushed a Kevin Durant-less OKC squad into the NBA playoffs. His MVP win was certainly explainable, and last year, when James Harden put up nearly 30 points per game while getting the Rockets to a league-leading 65 wins, few could balk at him winning, either.

There are a lot of impressive players every single year, but the best combination of elite production and high-level team success is usually what you’re looking for.

Keep that in mind as you prepare to bet on who will win the 2018-19 NBA MVP. Check out the latest odds.

LeBron James – Lakers+400
Anthony Davis – Pelicans+450
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Bucks+475
James Harden – Rockets+700
Kevin Durant – Warriors+1000
Kawhi Leonard – Raptors+1200
Joel Embiid – 76ers+1600
Russell Westbrook – Thunder+1600
Stephen Curry – Warriors+1600
Ben Simmons – 76ers+2000
Kyrie Irving – Celtics+2000
Karl-Anthony Towns – Timberwolves+2500
DeMar DeRozan – Spurs+3300
Donovan Mitchell – Jazz +3300
Jimmy Butler – Timberwolves+3300
Damian Lillard – Blazers+4000
John Wall – Wizards+5000
Victor Oladipo – Pacers+5000

King James leads the way for two obvious reasons: he continues to put up amazing numbers at age 33, and if he leads the Lakers back to relevancy, it’s going to come off as pretty legendary.

James could easily have been voted the MVP every single year he’s been in the league, but the fact that he keeps doing what he’s doing – and getting to the Finals, no less – is pretty impressive. If he gets the Lakers to the playoffs and puts up big stats in the process, he feels like a lock.

None of that is a given, of course.

Few players can match the statistical upside of both The Brow and The Greek Freak, so they’re both very interesting wagers at +475 and +450, respectively. Both the Pelicans and Bucks are on the rise as well, so you really need to consider both of these guys delivering huge seasons and leading their teams deep into the playoffs.

There’s also the reigning MVP in James Harden. His +700 price is absurd for a guy who won last year, probably should have won two years ago, and could very easily win again. In terms of straight-up value, he’s probably my favorite bet.

Of course, Leonard could go ham in Toronto, Westbrook can’t be ignored if he posts a third straight triple-double campaign, and KAT could be a monster in the wake of a Jimmy Butler trade.

That all is worth keeping tabs on, and I’m sure the NBA MVP odds will be rather fluid throughout the year. If James delivers in his first season with the Lake Show, though, I don’t know if you’ll ever get a better price than what he’s at right now.

PICKLeBron James+400

NBA Opening Night Odds and Picks

I took a look at the opening night matchups at the beginning of the month, and I’ll cap this post off by doing so again.

A decent amount has changed since then, as some injury news has impacted the betting lines, and unlike 10+ days ago, we actually have NBA odds to work with in these two matchups.

Let’s take a quick look at both games and see how you should bet on Tuesday night.

Philadelphia 76ers (+5) @ Boston Celtics (-5)

This is without a doubt the tough one to call on Tuesday night’s light two-game schedule.

Boston was a strong 27-14 at home last year and has had the upper hand in this series for quite some time. Not only did they knock the Sixers out of the playoffs (4-1) last year, but they also won the season series (3-1) and overall have taken 19 of the last 22 meetings.

That is absolutely staggering, and it’s safe to say a mental hold may exist in this one.

The Sixers were a very dangerous offensive team last year, but their free-flowing ways were interrupted quite a bit by Boston’s top-ranked defense in terms of efficiency.

The Celtics have the home and historic edge, while they have a collection of defensive bodies capable of checking Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. The former is the one that has struggled mightily at times in this matchup, and I wouldn’t be shocked if that continues in the season opener.

Philly was 22-19 on the road last year, but that was understandably where they struggled the most. They also didn’t do bettors any favors against the spread, as they were just 11-10-2 when they went into road games as the underdog.

Boston, meanwhile, was 32-18-2 ATS in home games last year and 38-26-2 ATS when favored. This game absolutely is more likely to be closer than the other one, but it’s possible neither of these contests ends up being particularly close.

This spread isn’t too obscene for either side, but I tend to favor the Celtics here. They have a healthy duo in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back, and they’ll be looking to make a big statement right away on their home floor.

The total is a bit light, and I don’t mind shooting for the over, while the spread has me leaning toward Boston. Their moneyline is just -200 at best, so -110 for them to win by six is a solid play.

PICKCeltics (-5)-110

Oklahoma City Thunder (+11.5) @ Golden State Warriors (-11.5)

Russell Westbrook had offseason knee surgery and has still not been cleared to play in this game. That’s all I need to know right now, so unless that changes, the Dubs are the easy picks ATS and of course as straight-up winners.

Paul George could keep it interesting initially, but it’s never easy to win in the Oracle Arena, much less simply keep things competitive. I also think the Dubs will be looking to make a statement here, as they have dropped their home opener in each of the last two years.

Kevin Durant routinely smokes his former Thunder squad as well, so the over and the Dubs in every regard are in play on Tuesday night.

PICKWarriors (-11.5)-115


Hopefully this helps you gear up for the 2018-19 NBA season, either just as a fan excited for the start of a new year or as a bettor looking for great wagers to target.

There is a ton of value, and even some of the “obvious” bets have really nice prices. The beauty is that is far from the only place to find wagers and odds, so there is a long line of options to consider.

The NBA is back, and it’s an exciting time for sports bettors and basketball fans alike. Happy betting, and good luck this year!

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NBA Betting Picks for the 2018-19 Season – My Top Recommended Wagers Before Opening Night
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NBA Betting Picks for the 2018-19 Season – My Top Recommended Wagers Before Opening Night
With the 2018-19 NBA regular season almost here, bettors need to run through every available wager to see what is worth betting on. Here are my top picks.
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