Playing with NBA Futures Bets and Props

I rarely play future bets, because I’m too impatient. But I’m going to take a stab at some this year, and consider it an investment.

Who will be the 2012-2013 NBA MVP:

Chris Paul, with 8 people higher than him, becomes my “sleeper” pick

Lebron James +175
Kevin Durant +385
Kobe Bryant +800
Kevin Love +1200
Dwight Howard +1200
Deron Williams +1200
Steve Nash +1200
Russell Westbrook +1200
Dwyane Wade +1500
Carmelo Anthony +1500
Chris Paul +1500
Tony Parker +1500
Blake Griffin +1800
Rajon Rondo +2000
Dirk Nowitzki +2000
Kyrie Irving +3000
Danny Granger +4000
Chris Bosh +4500
David Lee +6000
Field +1000

I’m instantly ruling out the Laker trio. I can’t see how any of those three so clearly become the best player on that team let alone the MVP of the league. I’m immediately ruling out David Lee because his inclusion on this list is just hilarious. I can’t imagine a scenario where Bosh, Granger, Griffin or Parker win it either. Westbrook will forever be in KD’s shadow, and considering the fact that OKC’s team success is now expected, the season he’d have to have, assuming KD is healthy, to win the MVP award is unfathomable. Kyrie is somewhat intriguing, but at best he becomes considered a fringe top-10 player, and it’s a certainty that nothing special will be happening in Cleveland this year. I think people forget just how great Wade was last regular season, and even so, he only finished 11th in the MVP voting. The world has warmed up to LeBron as well, and it’s clearly “his team”.

The Candidates

LeBron and KD are the obvious front-runners, and obviously the odds are that one of the two win it. But gambling is just that — you have to roll the dice occasionally.

The only other names I haven’t ruled out are Kevin Love, Deron Williams, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo and Drik Nowitzki.

Kevin Love: First of all, the team needs to make the playoffs. Regardless of what role you think team success should play in MVP voting, it matters to the voters. With the recent news that he will miss up to 2 months, it looks far less likely. I was all for it up until that development. It puts him even more behind in a race that he’s already behind in.

Deron Williams: Team success will be the key here as well. Deron has played arguably his worst basketball the past two years since his rookie season. It would take a return to his 3rd through 5th season in terms of production, and at least a top 4 record in the East, to have a shot at it. The former certainly could happen now that he has talent around him again, but the latter might be the problem. Joe Johnson could easily steal votes too.

Carmelo Anthony: I wanted to just laugh this one out, but there are a few possibilities here. The media loves talking about Melo, and Melo can quickly change a lot of the negative perceptions of him relatively quickly by a few simple tweaks in his game. The Knicks roster is very similar to last season, perhaps even less talented, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that they could improve upon their standing significantly. If the Knicks do play well-enough to climb the standing, we know who the credit will be given to.

Chris Paul: I think Paul’s odds are the best to bet on here. First, there are 8 players deemed having a better shot at winning than him, and considering he finished 3rd last year, he’s certainly more viable than that and that’s good value. Secondly, I think his team has improved. A jump from the 5th seed to the 2nd seed would really give him a great shot.

Rajon Rondo: Rondo finished 8th in the MVP voting last year, and whether it’s deserved or not, he’s now seemingly universally considered the best player on the Celtics (give me KG still, and it’s also a tossup with Pierce). Rondo actually had his worst season, arguably, since his first two seasons. If he boosts his scoring efficiency, and the Celtics exceed expectations and finish in the top 2 of the East, most of the credit I’m sure will go to him.

Dirk Nowitzki: In what’s becoming a clear trend, team success will be Dirk’s shot at this. Maybe I’m just continuing to overreact to Derrick Rose winning it in 2010-2011, but team turnarounds seem to be the easiest way to build an MVP-worthy campaign. Dallas, finishing 7th last year, has a shot to do just that. Are they good enough to make that turnaround? I’m not sure.  The question becomes: can Dirk, at the age of 34, put up numbers that would make voters feel comfortable voting for him over KD and LeBron? I really struggle to see that happening. So it could be 1st seed (maybe 2nd seed) or bust for Dirk’s chances.

Then there is always the field. Andrew Bynum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Garnett, Eric Gordon, Manu Ginobili, James Harden, Andre Iguodala, Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, etc. Bynum intrigues me to an extent, and that’s about it. Not worth it.

If I had 10 dollars to my name: 7 dollars on LeBron, 3 dollars on Paul. Swap LeBron for KD if you feel like taking a little bit more of a gamble.


2012-2013 NBA Rookie of the Year

Meyers Leonard and Damian Lillard, a pair of rookie Trailblazers, are two of the more tempting Rookie of the Year picks

Anthony Davis +180
Damian Lillard +500
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist +600
Bradley Beal +1000
Jeremy Lamb +1000
Harrison Barnes +1000
Thomas Robinson +1000
Royce White +1500
Dion Waiters +1500
John Henson +1500
Kendall Marshall +1500
Marquis Teague +1500
Jared Sullinger +1550
Maurice Harkless +2000
Andre Drummond +2000
Austin Rivers +2000
Terrence Ross +2000
Tyler Zeller +2200
Andrew Nicholson +2500
John Jenkins +2500
Meyers Leonard +3000
Field +800

Go back and look at the past rookie of the year winners. They all were starters with their teams from day one. That’s kind of intuitive, but it eliminates most of the list.

By my estimation we have the following slated to start: Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Harrison Barnes, Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard, Brad Beal, Jonas Valanciunas.

Andre Drummond, Jeremy Lamb, John Henson, Terrence Ross (maybe starts over Landry Fields?) would be the only non-certain starters I’d consider. But I’m not actually going to.

First: I’m certainly putting a few bucks down on Meyers Leonard. The lowest odds of the bunch, yet he has certain minutes, and +3000 is just too tempting.

Secondly: I’m not touching Davis. He may very well be the favorite, but the odds are too unrewarding for such an unpredictable award. Putting money on the favorite for the MVP and the favorite for the ROY are two completely different things. I’m fine with doing it for LeBron because we know for certain what he’ll do this season. You can’t quite say that about Davis, so it’s worth it to gamble a little bit more.

Thirdly: Damian Lillard is absolutely my favorite right now. He will get huge minutes, and as a point guard he has no choice but to be aggressive. He’ll put up huge numbers right off the bat.

Lastly: After Lillard and Davis it’s too much of a crap shoot. I think Vegas has it right putting MKG with the third highest odds. I think Harrison Barnes has the best potential to put up big scoring numbers. He’s probably got the inside track towards the starting job, and if not, he’ll be the first scoring option off the bench.

If I had 10 dollars to my name: 1 (to win $30) on Meyers Leonard. 3 (to win $30) on Barnes. 6 (to win $30) on Lillard.


NBA 2012-2013 Win Totals

Bovada odds. I bolded the ones I feel most strongly about.

Atlanta Hawks 42.5 — Very slight lean to the under. They’ll be weak defensively, Josh Smith could be trade fodder, and losing Joe Johnson will hurt more than people want to admit. Replacing a scorer like him with one-dimensional shooters like Morrow and Korver isn’t going to help. But! They are one of the most notorious overachievers (have gone over 5 of the past 7 seasons).

Boston Celtics 50.5 — Slight lean on the over. The East is a bit thinner at the top than recent years, the Celtics are bit younger and deeper than last year which mean they are less likely to just sit back and coast towards the playoffs. But still, this is one of the highest totals, it’s a bit scary.

Brooklyn Nets 44.5 — Not touching the Nets or the Knicks.

Charlotte Bobcats 22.5 — A potential play on the under. Is this team 13 wins better than the team from last year? I highly doubt that.

Chicago Bulls 47.5 — I would play the under. 47 wins is the fast track to a top 4 seed in the East, at least it has been for the last few years. Chicago is not a top 4 team in the East, and since there is more balance in the second tier of Eastern Conference contenders, that means more competition for them.

Cleveland Cavaliers 31.5 — Not a play for me. It seems fair. Would be about a 5 game improvement which is in the realm of possibility.

Dallas Mavericks 44.5 — Not a play. Too much turnaround, and this is about how well they finished last year.

Denver Nuggets 48.5 — Leaning on the over. I love the Nuggets’ shot this year. They only finished slightly below this total last year, and I think they can make a serious run at 50+ win season.

Detroit Pistons 31.5 — A play on the over. Detroit’s win percentage last season translated to 31 wins in an 82 game season. The played .500 ball for much of the later part of the season. They will improve, and I think they can win 36+ games.

Golden State Warriors 34.5 — I’m inclined to go with the over, but rule #254 of sports betting: never assume the health of Stephen Curry or Andrew Bogut.

Houston Rockets 30.5 — I like the under here. They lost basically 8 of their 10 best players last year. The team is full of youth, and I’m not sold on the Lin/Asik PG/C combo. Daryl Morey has concocted something that isn’t going to be winning a lot of games anytime soon.

Indiana Pacers 51.5 — Not a play. I can’t see how they make huge improvements compared to last season. Much will remain the same, and this is about where they finished last year.

Los Angeles Clippers 48.5 — Slight lean on the over. A healthy Chauncey Billups will help, as will the veterans on the bench. I think they can crack 50 wins.

Los Angeles Lakers 59.5 – Leaning towards the under. Are they a 60 win team? They certainly could be. I’m just not convinced 60 wins is that easy in the West right now.

Memphis Grizzlies 48.5 — Not a play. Seems like a fair total. I was inclined to go with the over, but they too really have poor depth.

Miami Heat 60.5 — Slight lean on the over. The East is less top heavy as it’s been in quite some time. The Heat would have topped 62 wins in an 82 game season last year. They figure to have more depth, and hopefully better health. I think 62-64 wins is doable.

Milwaukee Bucks 36.5 — Not a play. What can Epke Udoh do? Can Monta and Jennings coexist? Was Ilyasova just a contract year fluke? Will all that youth contribute right away? I have no idea…

Minnesota Timberwolves 42.5 — The number here has already grown, for obvious reasons. I really like this team and want them to do well, but 40 wins seems about where I’d project them if everything goes right. With the news that Kevin Love will miss 6-8 weeks, things are off to a slow start. Factor in Rubio’s injury and the uncertainty of AK47 and Brandon Roy’s ability to contribute and I’m not seeing 43 wins.

New Orleans Hornets 25.5 — Can’t touch this team either. Rookies at key positions, new faces everywhere, and a lot of potential growing pains because of those two. A fun collection of talent, but projecting their success is tough.

New York Knicks 45.5 — Not touching them: see Brooklyn.

Oklahoma City Thunder 60.5 — Slight lean towards the under, but not a play. I think the West is just slightly stronger this year, 60.5 wins would be an improvement on last year, and might they lose a little regular season hunger?

Orlando Magic 23.5 — Playing the under. The priorities for the Magic this season should be individual. Find out what you have with the youth, sort out your trade pieces, and look towards the future. I’d imagine there will be some mid season turnover (Redick figures to be gone, perhaps Harrington, Davis and Nelson too). It isn’t a talented roster. There is a young first-time coach. Everything is written on the wall suggesting this will be a low-20s/high teens winning season.

Philadelphia 76ers 46.5 — I will be rooting for Philadelphia in the East (considering the Magic aren’t contending). I want to think they can easily best this, but Bynum is an injury risk, and Kwame Brown and Spencer Hawes do little to excite me.

Phoenix Suns 33.5 — Slight lean on the under. A lot of one-ways players, many of whom have severe deficiencies on one side of the court. Their fragile depth could doom them too. There just isn’t a ton of talent here.

Portland Trail Blazers 35.5 — Leaning on the under. Rookie point guard + a rookie center = a lot of growing pains. Also, this team has absolutely no depth. An injury to Aldridge, Batum or Matthews could be crippling. An injury anywhere really…

Sacramento Kings 29.5 — Not touching the Kings. Too volatile. Constantly more talented than the level they actually play at, but maybe this is the year they finally grow.

San Antonio Spurs 55.5 — Leaning on the over. They are the league’s foremost chronic overachievers; Vegas lines were meant for San Antonio to smash.

Toronto Raptors 31.5 — Slight lean on the over. I’m a little concerned with Valanciunas starting at center, but this team has really nice depth across the board.

Utah Jazz 42.5 — Slight lean on the over. I think Utah makes the playoffs, and to do so will require a winning record. They have an amazing front court and a back court that can score. It’s a well-rounded team.

Washington Wizards 31.5 — Slight lean on the under. John Wall might miss a chunk of the season. There’s more veteran talent there, but it’s still an incomplete team.


2 Responses to Playing with NBA Futures Bets and Props

  1. The first is the opening line movement when bettors wager into the opening numbers put out by the bookmakers. Pay extra attention to movements in games between smaller, lesser-known teams. There are movements college basketball bettors should give extra consideration to.

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