With the tip off to the 2015-16 NBA Regular Season exactly two months away—October 27—there’s no better time than now to try to find some perceived value in the NBA Futures markets.
After some close examination, it seems the coming season could be much more predictable than the 2014-15 NBA one, with the same couple of teams making a run at the NBA Finals, and with betting markets honestly seeming to hold little value. Despite the roundball desert of potentially decent Futures Book bets, let’s try to scape out a couple of NBA picks and then explain why each would be best bet now while the NBA odds are where they’re at.
The 70th Regular Season of the NBA—the National Basketball Association to the uninitiated—tips off exactly two months from today (Thursday) on Tuesday, October 27 at The House That Michael Built, the United Center in Chicago, Illinois where Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls (18/1 to win NBA Championship, Boylesports) will host LeBron James (+300 to win NBA MVP, 5Dimes) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (+275 to win NBA Championship, 888sport) in an Eastern Conference showdown in the night’s first game, followed by an intriguing Western Conference affair between the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry (7/1 to win MVP, 5Dimes) and the New Orleans Pelicans (40/1 to win NBA Championship, 5Dimes) and Anthony Davis (4/1 to win MVP, 5Dimes) at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. Despite having more Futures Book odds than ever, sometimes it seems there just isn’t much value—or entertainment potential—in this particular marketplace and the current NBA looks that way—much like the NFL—with seemingly only a handful of teams who could realistically make it to and win the NBA Championship this 2015-16 NBA season. And whereas it seems the NFL has five teams who could possibly make it to and win the Super Bowl this coming season, the NBA cupboard looks a little more bare, with only those defending champion Warriors (5/1, bet365) and the reloaded San Antonio Spurs (4/1, Ladbrokes) in the Western Conference and LeBron and the Cavaliers (+380, Boylesports) in the Eastern Conference realistically looking like they have a shot.
So, does that mean the Futures Book markets in the NBA should be avoided? Of course not, as much happens in professional sports on a day-to-day basis. But it will probably take some creativity and laying some heavy numbers for the sports bettor to try to find much value in the current NBA Futures marketplace, unless you truly believe that maybe Kevin Durant (6/1 to win MVP, 5Dimes) and Russell Westbrook (9/1, 5Dimes) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (8/1 to win NBA Championship, 5Dimes) or maybe James Harden 4/1 to win MVP, 5Dimes) and the Houston Rockets (18/1 to win NBA Championship, 5Dimes) can somehow shock the world and bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy home to one of their respective cities. Let’s take a look at a couple of ideas in the NBA Future Book where prices may evaporate when the regular season begins and the General Public realizes it looks like the same-old, same-old this season.
NBA Futures Prop Conference Winner Value Pick—Cavaliers to win the East -200 (bet365)
The Cleveland Cavaliers look to have a much easier road to the NBA Finals through another Eastern Conference championship this coming season, as this team will obviously have the conference as well as entire league’s best player saddling up in LeBron James (25.3 ppg, 7.4 apg), Kevin Love (16.4 ppg, 9.7 rpg) back at PF, Timofey Mozgov (9.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg) at C and Kyrie Irving (21.7 ppg, 5.2 apg) at PG. Cleveland will also be getting C Anderson Varejao back from an injury and the Cavaliers are still hoping to re-sign PF Tristan Thompson (8.5 rpg, 8.0 ppg) who is still testing the Free Agent marketplace and may be looking for a team where he can start. Last season, including the Regular Season and the Playoffs, Cleveland was a combined 16-7 against the Bulls (7-4), Hawks (5-3) and Raptors (4-0).
Why? Probably the closest competition in the conference, the Chicago Bulls, have some major problems with a perpetually-injured Derrick Rose, and aging Pau Gasol, the offensively challenged Joakim Noah and a key player—Jimmy Butler—who almost left the Windy City via Free Agency in this Offseason. Toss in the fact that Chicago let go of longtime Head Coach Tom Thibodeau and replaced him with Fred Hoiberg and some first-year growing pains for Hoiberg should be expected from the Bulls. As far as the other major potential contenders in the East, the Atlanta Hawks (14/1 to win Eastern Conference, BetVictor), Miami Heat (14/1, bet365) and Washington Wizards (16/1, Stan James) are the three next choices in the Futures markets, but none of the three really has a big enough superstar capable of leading them to the NBA Finals this season—the reality the team that wins the Eastern Conference and this Futures Book bet must actually do on the hardwood. The East is the Cavs to lose.
NBA Regular Season MVP—LeBron James +300 (5Dimes)
This is very chalky and very simple pick but there’s a reason why. LeBron James is probably the single most important player to his NBA team, and the now 30-year-old James is virtually uncoverable and can take the ball strongly to the rim, down the lane like a football player and like no other backcourt player in NBA history. The 6-foot-8-inch, 250-pound Akron, Ohio native also statistically can dominate in the three major facets of the game: Scoring (25.3 ppg, #3 in NBA), Rebounding (6.0 rpg) and Assists (7.4 apg. #7 in NBA) and James is also the Cavaliers floor leader, and for all practical purposes (and with no disrespect to David Blatt), is pretty much Cleveland’s HC.
Why? The other major candidates. The Warriors' Stephen Curry (7/1 to win MVP, 5Dimes) won the MVP award last season, but it should be hard for the Warriors PG to put up those kind of gaudy numbers and perhaps some of the luster is off Golden State (5/1 to win NBA Championship, bet365) now that it has finally won another title and LeBron is a bigger Rebounding (possessions) threat and just as good, if not better at passing (now) than is Curry. The Rockets' James Harden (4/1) is always a threat because of his scoring, but it seems the SG will need more support or run the risk of wearing down trying to carry this Houston team in the superstar role.The Pelicans’ Anthony Davis (4/1) may be the biggest threat to James winning the MVP this Regular Season, but again, New Orleans (40/1 to win NBA title, Ladbrokes) and Davis (24.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.9 bpg) will probably have to finish in the top four in the Western Conference and that’s not going to be easy...again. And Thunder buddies Kevin Durant (6/1) and Russell Westbrook (9/1) are both candidates as both can score, but getting enough from the supporting cast, and, like the Pelicans, finishing in the top four in the West will be needed to garner MVP attention. A bad thing for both these cats is that they could split votes from each other and their overall success is often dependent on Oklahoma City (+850 to win NBA Championship, Stan James) playing great and staying healthy overall as a team—something that’s been a challenge for this organization over the past couple of seasons.
NBA Finals Matchup—Cleveland Cavaliers-San Antonio Spurs +419 (5Dimes)
This one should be pretty evident. Two of the three teams with a legitimate shot at a title and one mad, re-loaded and with the NBA’s best Head Coach (Gregg Popovich) intent on getting to the Western Conference Finals this time around. Pop’s is pissed.
Why? San Antonio re-signed star SF Kawhi Leonard (16.5 ppg), veteran SG Manu Ginobili (10.5 ppg), C Matt Bonner and along with C Tim Duncan, PG Tony Parker and SF Danny Green, Popovich already had a pretty nucleus to make a run at another NBA title. But the Spurs also added Free Agent PFs David West (Indiana Pacers) and LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers), so now San Antonio’s team’s frontcourt can now hang with anyone in the league in terms of talent and depth. Signing the powerful Aldridge (6-11, 260) may be the tipping point that puts the Spurs (+229 to win Western Conference, Paddy Power) into the NBA Finals this season as his Scoring (career-high 23.4 ppg in 2014) and Rebounding (10.2 rpg) will take loads of pressure off Duncan (13.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg) and Leonard (37/1 to win MVP, 5Dimes).
NBA Futures Prop Conference Winner Value Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers to win Eastern Conference -200 (bet365)
NBA Regular Season MVP: LeBron James +300 (5Dimes)
NBA Futures—NBA Finals Matchup: Cleveland Cavaliers-San Antonio Spurs +419 (5Dimes)