With the All Star game now in the rear view, we’ve reached the final stretch of the NBA season. Most teams have between 21 and 25 games left to play, and it’s their last chance to make an imprint on this season or position themselves for the playoffs. Both conferences seem wide open at this point.
With games not resuming until later this week, it’s a great time to look at the landscape of the NBA. And by landscape, we’re talking about futures bets and futures odds. The closer we get to the postseason, the worse those odds are going to look. It looks like Nikola Jokic’s already has his third straight MVP award in the bag with -250 odds virtually everywhere, but there’s so much more to bet on. Let’s take a look at the best future bets you can make for the remainder of the NBA season.
NBA Finals Winner: Denver Nuggets +800 (DraftKings)
Picking the Phoenix Suns to win is all the rage right now. They currently have the shortest championship odds of any Western Conference team. The addition of Kevin Durant to a core of Devin Booker, CP3, and Deandre Ayton is lethal. But what if they don’t gel in time? What if they can’t stay healthy? It wouldn’t be the first time a newly assembled super team took some time to familiarize themselves with each other before achieving success. The Suns only have 22 games left, is that enough? On top of that, the trio of Durant, Booker, and Paul have missed a combined 67 games this season. Each one missing at least 19.
So what about the Nuggets? The Nuggets are five games ahead of everyone else in the Western Conference right now, and they’re finally healthy.
Back to back reigning MVP, Nikola Jokic, is somehow outdoing himself this season averaging a triple double. Jamal Murray is hitting his stride with 20 points per game and shooting just under 40% from three. Aaron Gordon is having a career revival putting up 17.3 points per game, his most since 2018, and Michael Porter Jr. has been able to stay efficient and stay on the court as well. Don’t overlook the Nuggets.
Most Improved Player Award: Jalen Brunson +350 (FanDuel)
The popular picks for this award are Lauri Markkanen and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Both of them were just All Stars this past weekend and both are having the best seasons of their careers by a long shot. Jalen Brunson is having a heckuva season as well though, and really, he should have been an All Star.
Brunson has been playing well all season, but the surge he’s been on since January began has propelled the Knicks to the 6th seed in the Eastern conference. In that span he’s averaging 29.7 points per game and shooting 46.6% from three. He’s truly become a guy who can go out and get you 40 any night of the week, any time he’s asked.
If he continues to play at this level, his odds to win MIP are going to come down to where Markkanen and Gilgeous-Alexander’s are. They’re both at +130. The Kicker is that Brunson has the Knicks playing better than the Thunder and the Jazz who are the 10th and 11th seeds in the West, respectively.
Lakers OVER 40.5 Wins -110 (DraftKings)
The Los Angeles Lakers made moves at the trade deadline to acquire shooters. The team is now built significantly differently from what it was to start the season, and this version looks like it can win games. LeBron James has repeatedly lamented missing the playoffs last year, and says these final 23 games are the most important (regular season) games of his career. He’s willed teams in the past to way beyond what they were supposed to be, but does he still have that will power at 38 years old? Vegas says no, as the Lakers odds to win the Western conference are way up at +3000.
The X factor for the Lakers success is always the health of Anthony Davis. When he’s healthy, no one questions what he brings to the table. Lately though, we just haven’t seen him on the court for long enough stretches of time. If he can’t stay healthy, all bets are off.
After starting the season 2-10, the Lakers are 25-22. That’s a win percentage of about 53%. They’ll need to finish the season with a 14-9 record to hit the over on games won. We like those chances with a locked in LeBron who finally has teammates who know how to shoot a basketball.
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