It’s September. That means sport is about to take off across the Atlantic. The NFL season is about to start (depending on when you’re reading this) and it is just weeks until the NHL and NBA campaigns begin.
This NBA offseason has been spectacular. LeBron James is a Laker, Paul George isn’t a Laker, and Kawhi Leonard is, after a remarkable soap opera, a Raptor. That barely scrapes the surface of the chaos.
Things have calmed a little now, though, so it seems a good time to take a look at the outright NBA betting markets for the 2018/19 season…
There are at least 10 teams that are locks to make the postseason. From the Warriors through to the Wizards, there’s obviously little to no value backing them. Others are on the cusp of a playoff berth and are a more interesting betting proposition as a result.
The Phoenix Suns are 16/1 to make the playoffs. It’s been a rough couple of years for the Arizona-based franchise, but there’s definitely potential on that roster.
Devin Booker now has a solid supporting cast, and DeAndre Ayton could take the league by storm. While still a longshot, Phoenix are one of the most interesting teams this year.
The Portland Trail Blazers stunned everyone last year to snatch the third seed. Dame Lilliard was superb all season, but it’s been a quiet offseason for Portland due to sitting right up against the salary cap.
This could be a difficult year for the Blazers, who suffered a painful first round sweep to the Pelicans last season. They are 11/20 to miss out on the playoffs.
Rookie Of The Year
This year’s draft was stacked. The aforementioned Ayton went first overall, and is 6/4 favourite to win Rookie of the Year, but there were potentially franchise changing talents scattered across the board.
Luka Doncic, who the Mavericks shrewdly traded up to get, sits just behind Ayton at 9/4. Doncic dominated Europe and could be the next big face of the sport. He has future-MVP level talent. The 9/4 price looks great value, even with the potential adaptation period for the Slovenian.
Ettore Messina: "Luka Doncic is phenomenal, especially mentally"https://t.co/f6EjifhPXc— Eurohoops.net (@Eurohoopsnet) September 6, 2018
The odds lengthen after those two. The Knicks’ Kevin Knox is at 15/2, which is probably on the short side. Knox is clearly a significant piece and might get the opportunity to lead the team in Kristaps Porzingis’ absence, but there are other long odds options that offer better value.
Mo Bamba at 16/1 and Trae Young at 10/1 are two of the best prices away from Doncic and Ayton. Bamba’s sheer size makes him an exciting guy to watch. If he can pair that with range, he could quickly become one of the league’s best big men.
Young, who models himself on Steph Curry, is perfectly suited to the modern NBA.
The Golden State Warriors and their five All-Stars are 1/2 to win another title. Injuries are probably the only thing that can stop Steve Kerr’s team.
The Boston Celtics, rejuvenated by the return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, are second favourites for the title at 21/4. After taking the Cleveland Cavaliers to Game Seven in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics look like they could be the top contenders in the East.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are only going to improve and, with Irving and Hayward back, Boston probably have the best starting five outside of Oakland.
LeBron’s Lakers at 8/1 might be the best pick of the lot. It is, after all, LeBron James. He took that Cleveland roster to the Finals. Now he has a clutch of young talent and some battle-hardened veterans.
It could go wrong for LeBron in Los Angeles, but chances are it won’t. A top four seed is likely and, as LeBron has told us all before, if he gets to the playoffs, anything can happen.
The Philadelphia 76ers at 14/1 are an interesting outside bet. Philly struggled against Boston in the playoffs last season, but a healthy Markelle Fultz could make the world of difference.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are two generational talents, this could be beginning of another epic Boston-Philadelphia rivalry.
Most Valuable Player
James Harden is the bookies’ favourite to win MVP after his brilliant 2017/18 campaign. Harden’s Rockets fell at the final hurdle early this year but, other than slightly ageing teammates, there’s nothing to stop him doing it all again.
LeBron James follows Harden at 7/2. After a superhuman effort to play all 82 games last season, there are no signs of ageing despite the latest Laker star entering his 16th year in the league.
The 7/2 on James to win MVP looks better value than Harden’s 3/1, but that could change quickly if the Lakers struggle with their new look roster.
The pair at 5/1 are probably most intriguing. Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo certainly have MVP talent, and benefit from being the standout stars on their respective teams, but consistency will be key.
Davis had one of the best individual spells in history earlier this year, while Antetokounmpo must get a more reliable jump shot to be a genuine MVP contender.
Of the longer odds options, Joel Embiid and Steph Curry – both 14/1 – are the standouts.
Curry is disadvantaged by the other All-Stars on his team, but we all know how good that shot can be. Embiid has it all. A season of fully fit Embiid can be as dominant as anyone in the game.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*