NBA Futures Bets (Other Than the Warriors Winning It All Again)

By Kent Mullins
Published on October 12, 2017

The NBA season is upon us, and we all already know who the champion is going to be! You’d think that would make for a pretty dull season, but in fact, it’s shaping up to be one of the more entertaining in recent memory.

The offseason was indeed a crazy one. We’ve gotten more than our fair share of Lavar Ball. We’ve seen superstars join forces in several markets. And we’ve observed a few head-scratching trades by teams like Indiana.

We have one flawlessly built squad at the top of the mountain and then five or six additional super teams hoping for a Warriors injury or two and their chance to slide into the top spot. Then there are several young, exciting teams and a whole lot of tanking going on at the bottom.

I want to explore some potentially profitable futures bets to think about before the season opens up in a couple of weeks. These will mostly be top teams that either needs a miracle hot streak or a Warriors injury in order to make it all the way.

A lot of the top teams I will be looking at are getting very lucrative lines due to the Warriors recent dominance and insanely versatile and deep roster.

But injuries do happen, and in sports, miracles occasionally occur as well. Let’s look at some of the value out there for the teams looking to compete this year.

The Houston Rockets

The Rockets added several exciting pieces this offseason, but nobody more impactful than The Point God himself, Chris Paul. The brilliant point guard is joining the uptempo, 3-pointer happy Rockets and adding leadership and ball handling duties to a team that has arguably leaned too heavily on their tenured superstar James Harden.

Daryl Morey also did excellent work in retaining Hilario Nene and signing two defensively minded wings in Luc Mbah a Moute and PJ Tucker. With a now even deeper bench and a superstar to control the tempo and distribute the ball for a full 48 minutes a game. This should be the best Rockets team in recent memory, and without the juggernaut Warriors hanging over everyone’s head would be a real favorite to win the title.

Basketball+2150 to Win Championship Finals (5Dimes Odds Used)

At these odds, you have to take a flier on this top 3 team! You hate to wish injuries on anyway, which again, you are if you bet on anyone other than The Warriors to win it all, but if Kevin Durant and/or one other piece goes down, there is some real opportunity here.

The Rockets are full of shooters, boast one of the fastest tempos in the league and chuck three-pointers at a rate that we have never seen before. With this strategy, there is a ton of variance. And if they get hot, they can beat anybody.

If you place a $100 bet on the Rockets winning the Championship, the payout will be $2,150. That is an excellent return on two of the best pick-and-roll players, a promising young center, and a roster stuffed with three-point specialists, 3-and-D wings, and seasoned veterans.

Basketball+1000 James Harden – MVP

James Harden has come in second place in MVP voting twice now. When he lost to Steph Curry in 2015, it was because his team did not win as many games as Curry’s, despite having better individual statistics. In 2017 Harden came in second to Westbrook due to not having as spectacular personal numbers despite having many more team wins. SO he’s lost on both sides of the MVP argument.

This season I expect Chris Paul to take over a good deal of the ball handling and distribution. Harden should have a more relaxed usage rate which will most likely leave him on the outside looking in this season as well. Regardless, at 10 to 1 odds it may be worth putting a flyer on a player that finds himself in the MVP discussions often.

Boston Celtics

Boston had the best record in the East last season and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they fell to the Cavaliers. This offseason Danny Ainge hit the jackpot adding Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to their squad, as well as the third pick of the draft, promising rookie Jayson Tatum.

Lead by their brilliant coach Brad Stevenson, the Celtics are one of the few teams in the East with a real shot at making the finals. They certainly have lots of offensive fire-power to put alongside the proven championship player in Kyrie Irving who has experience in the biggest of moments.

Basketball+1200 to Win Championship Finals

While the Western Conference playoffs are going to be an absolute bloodbath to even make the Conference Finals, Boston’s road will be much easier. In the East, their only real competition should be the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lebron James.

They were eliminated in five games in last season’s Conference Finals, but their current roster looks poised to make a stronger push this season. At 12 to 1 odds this bet has some potential. If Hayward and Kyrie can lead the offense this bet holds some real value.

Basketball+900 Jayson Tatum – NBA Rookie of the Year

I absolutely love this bet! One thing Tatum has going for him is that he will be on a high-profile, winning team. While it is an individual award, these things tend to matter. He will also be an essential part of the Celtic’s rotation.

His mature offensive game is sure to catch some all-important media attention, which I believe adds value to this excellent opportunity.

Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder are another team that retooled in hopes for a spectacular post-season run. Their offseason was terrific enough when they were able to dump Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis on the Pacers in exchange for Paul George. I still don’t understand what the Pacers were thinking here so I won’t try.

To make things even more incredible, a couple months later Carmelo Anthony expanded his list of teams that he was willing to be traded to and the Thunder landed him too. They also signed veteran power forward Patrick Peterson. Just like that, they are back in the mix with a superteam to put around super-player and reigning MVP, Russell Westbrook.

Basketball+2150 to Win Championship Finals (5Dimes Odds Used)

Receiving the same odds as the Rockets, this is another tasty line if anything happens to the Warriors this season! Equipped with three superstars, led by the unstoppable force of Russell Westbrook, I believe they have the best chance in the league of upsetting even a healthy Warriors.

With Carmello fully engaged and back on an actual contender for the first time in quite awhile, 2,150 dollars return on a $100 bet is the kind of value I can appreciate. They are able to play big, they are able to play small. It will be thrilling to watch how the pieces all mesh.

Basketball+800 Billy Donovan – Coach of the Year

Coming off a 47 win season, the Thunder have beefed up their roster. Getting back into the mid-50’s with their record seems likely to land Billy Donovan in the conversation for Coach of the Year. If he’s able to manage his stars and keep this team in the Championship picture as I suspect he will, an 8 to 1 payout on this award is a fabulous pick.

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are always a threat to win it all when you least expect it. Thought to be old and at the end of their reign of success for about a decade now, they always compete and are still relevant. They have the best coach in the league and an unrivaled team culture. There is no replacement for consistency and culture, they have both.

They also added veteran swingman Rudy Gay to complete the best duo of defensive wings in the league, playing next to superstar/defensive genius Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs made the Western Conference finals last season, where Leonard was injured on a dirty play, ending their chances.

Basketball+1900 to Win Championship Finals

They made the Western Conference finals last season, and now have another year of Kawhi Leonard’s offensive development to go along with his brilliant defense. They’ve also added more wing defense to go alongside him. And if anyone can solve the puzzle that is the Warriors it’s Gregg Popovich.

They were competitive before an ankle injury ended their playoffs, and they are worth taking a flier on this season.  They always find a way and are always prepared to shock the world.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Lebron’s last stand in his hometown! While most believe Lebron will be taking his talents elsewhere next offseason, they’ve reworked the roster to give him another shot at the title this season. The most likely team to be facing the Warriors in the finals, this year would make four years in a row these two teams have faced off for the trophy.

The Cavs were forced to trade the disgruntled Kyrie Irving in the offseason, getting Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder back in return. They also added Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, and Jeff Green to the roster. If this were 2010, they’d be set!

Regardless, they have tons of veteran talent and are led by the greatest player of a generation. Furthermore, they will be coming out of a weak East with only one real competitor to their finals berth.

Basketball+515 to Win Championship Finals

Besides the Warriors, the Cavs are the favorite team to win it all. Lebron is in the finals every year after all, and you have to make it there to win. With this bet, you are relying on having fewer obstacles in his way en route to the finals and a fatigued Western Conference foe for the Cavs to win it all.

From there you are just betting on more Lebron heroics surrounded by a significant amount of aging talent. At a bit more than 5 to 1 odds, there is some value to be had here. If anyone can topple the Warriors, it’s Lebron. He’s done it before!

Basketball+400 Lebron James – MVP

A 4 to 1 payout on the best player in the world winning MVP? I love it. I believe with this season being Lebron’s last playing in his hometown, he will be pulling a Westbrook-esque approach to the season, collecting all of the individual stats. I wouldn’t even be shocked to see him average a triple-double.

It has now been five years since Lebron’s last MVP. With all this talk about the Warriors these days I can see the King reminding everyone who the best player in the league truly is. And if he’s gunning for individual stats this season, the media will be enthralled. And once that momentum gets going, it’s but a foregone conclusion. This is my favorite futures bet of them all!

A Few Others I Like

Basketball+1600 Damian Lillard – NBA Points Per Game Leader

At these odds this bet is brilliant. The Trailblazers have a well-constructed team with promising young talent, led by Damian Lillard. He’s a dynamic scorer and doesn’t have to share the ball in the way some of the other scoring leader favorites will have to. For that reason, I really like this wager.

Basketball+1000 Giannis Antetokounmpo – MVP

The “Greek Freak” is one of the most unique athletes in the NBA. He’s 7 feet tall with guard-like abilities. He’s also a media darling and fan-favorite. I can definitely see him having a breakout season for the Bucks culminating in an MVP.

He also benefits from not being on one of the super teams. While those teams will be sharing the ball and cannibalizing each other’s stats, Giannis will have the opportunity to be the focal point of his team.

Basketball+1500 Tom Thibodeau – Coach of the Year

Tom Thibodeau is an excellent coach, especially on the defensive end. 15 to 1 odds seem like a really high payout for him winning Coach of the Year. The Timberwolves have re-signed Andrew Wiggins, expect Karl Anthony Towns to take another leap forward, and added Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson.

I anticipate Gibson and Butler to be locker room leaders. They’ve both played for Thibodeau in the past and will be instrumental in getting the entire team on the same page with their coach’s defensive philosophies. If the Wolves increase their win totals significantly and grab one of those last playoff spots in the west, I believe it’s likely Tom win’s this award.

The Wrap Up

So, there are my early picks for some of the annual awards coming into this season! While the most likely scenario is that the Warriors just blitz the competition with their perfectly constructed, once-in-a-lifetime team, there is still some hope out there for other franchises. You never know how the season will play out, which is why these bets are going to make us so much money!

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