Back In The Saddle: Sportsbooks Gearing Up For NBA Restart With Variety Of Futures Offerings

Written By Chris Sheridan on June 22, 2020
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Let’s say you are a chalk guy and you are convinced that LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will meet in the NBA Finals in a matchup of the Lakers and the Bucks. You can get better than 3-1 odds right now on that “eventuality” if you shop around … and you do not have to pick a winner.

Or let’s say you are a naysayer like this particular writer and believe the Miami Heat – the only team to go unbeaten against Milwaukee before the NBA season was suspended — will play the Los Angeles Clippers when the championship round arrives. The odds on that particular matchup are anywhere from +2700 to +2800.

Let’s say you are a major James Harden fan and think the NBA scoring leader, teaming with Russell Westbrook, will get past the competition in the West and meet up with the now-healthy Philadelphia 76ers in the Finals. You can get that wager at anywhere from +6500 to +8000.

And the nice thing about it, again? You do not have to pick a winner.

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Sportsbooks gearing up for NBA restart

With sportsbooks doing boffo business as the coronavirus pandemic wears on and people who like to wager needing an outlet for their disposable cash, the biggest operators in the United States are putting all sorts of NBA wagers back on the boards in anticipation of the late July restart at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

“You’re seeing so many markets going up recently because the NBA recently confirmed dates to their re-start and those dates are getting close,” said Elisa Richardson, head of communications for MGMGrand. “Lots of books have NBA futures up but BetMGM is one of the only books to have exact outcome by division.”

FanDuel Sportsbook has put individual award winner prop bets back up, with Antetokounmpo still the massively prohibitive favorite for NBA MVP at -2400, followed by James at +1100. The closest individual award race is Sixth Man of the Year, where Dennis Schroeder of Oklahoma City is -190 and Montrezl Harrell of the Clippers is the second choice at +210. The book has Bam Adebayo of Miami the leading candidate for Most Improved Player, Ja Morant of Memphis as the most likely Rookie of the Year, and Giannis as the most likely Defensive Player of the Year.

DraftKings Sportsbook has MVP and Rookie of the Year odds up, with Antetokounmpo an even bigger favorite at -5000. For Rookie of the Year, DK has only two players listed: Morant at -10000 and Zion Williamson at 14-1.

PointsBet has similar player odds and is the only book currently taking wagers on Coach of the Year, with Toronto’s Nick Nurse the favorite at -1000, followed by Frank Vogel of the Lakers and Mike Budenholzer of the Bucks both listed at +1400.

ALSO READ: Trail Blazers have sportsbooks and NBA bettors flummoxed

NBA outright title winner getting the most play

At DraftKings, head of trading Johnny Avello explained that the book put additional Most Valuable Player odds up on Harden, Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, Kawhi Leonard, and Russell Westbrook because: “We don’t know if eight (regular season) games will make a difference. It could most likely not.”

Avello also said outright NBA title winner has been the book’s most popular play.

“And it’s pretty spread out, too, on both the favorites and the longshots,” he said. “People are dabbling at it, but they want to be assured that this is going to take place. There’s a lot of uncertainty out there, and people are still comfortable playing something that is current. But the NBA is popular, and as long as there is content up there, they’re going to play it.”

The NBA is moving into uncharted territory in playing the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs in one location at a neutral site and with no fans in the stands, which makes the wagering world all the more interesting because things like homecourt advantage are not going to be in play.

Philadelphia had the league’s best home record, 29-2, which means nothing anymore.

The Lakers had the league’s best road record, 26-6, which also means nothing anymore.

The Bucks and Lakers had the best records against teams from their conferences, which likely carries over into Orlando, and Toronto had four straight victories when the season was put on hold – still the longest “current” winning streak in the NBA. The Raptors also carry a defending champion pedigree into the resumption.

Sportsbooks getting creative ahead of NBA restart

Think the Raptors will take down the Lakers, or at least meet them in the final round? That wager (the latter) is priced anywhere from +1800 to +2300. What about the Raptors having a chance to get revenge against Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers? That particular LA-Toronto matchup is priced from +2200 to +2600.

Think pigs will fly and Phoenix will play Washington in the finals? You can get that one at +500000, lobotomy not included. With 22 teams set to compete when the season resumes, there are no fewer than 109 possible NBA Finals matchups on the board.

Perhaps the most creative wager comes from PointsBet, which has put a line on which Disney hotel will house the eventual champion. The choice “Get Deep Into Your Wallet” is not listed for obvious reasons, as anyone who has been to Disney can attest. What is on the board is the Grand Destino (Bucks, Lakers, Raptors, Clippers, Celtics, Nuggets, Jazz, Heat) at -1250; the Grand Floridian (Thunder, Sixers, Rockets, Pacers, Mavericks, Nets, Grizzlies and Magic) at +750, and the Yacht Club (Trail Blazers, Kings, Pelicans, Spurs, Suns and Wizards) at +10000.

“We’ve been up with our standard props for a few weeks now, i.e. outright winner, conference winner, team to make the playoffs, etc. As soon as plans are solidified, we get more creative and load up a lot more,” PointsBet spokesman Patrick Eichner said.

The NBA season resumes in five weeks, after what has seemed like five months.

Congrats, readers, for almost making it to the re-start, and keep your eyes fixed on the prize … whether it is the outright winner of the Finals, or the two teams that will compete for the long-delayed 2020 NBA championship.

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