Sheridan: Nuggets Presenting Great NBA Betting Value In Western Conference

Posted By Chris Sheridan on July 26, 2020 - Last Updated on July 27, 2020
Nuggets odds NBA Denver Bol Bol

Bol Bol was trending on Twitter this week after the Denver Nuggets rookie killed it in his professional debut, giving sports bettors reason to take a longer, harder look at the chances of an outlier winning the NBA championship after the league’s restart finally gets underway.

Bol, the son of former NBA player Manute Bol, started at center in a “tall ball” lineup that featured a slimmed down Nikola Jokic at point guard alongside Paul Millsap, Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee. Using that starting five, Denver defeated Washington 89-82 in one of four scrimmages/exhibition games played Wednesday at the Walt Disney complex in Orlando.

Denver has the third-best record (41-23) in the Western Conference but the fourth-best West odds behind the LA Lakers, LA Clippers and Houston Rockets, a reflection of the lack of wagering interest in a team that had very little sex appeal – until coach Michael Malone trotted out his massive starting five.

It is too soon to tell if Bol earned his way into the rotation for a Nuggets team that was missing several regulars and had only one guard available, but there was no arguing with the buzz his 16-point, 10-rebound, six block performance created.

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Plenty of betting intrigue with middle of the pack teams

It is easy to forget about the Nuggets when assessing the top teams in the West – a crowded field that includes smaller-market teams including the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks as legitimate championship contenders, especially given the peculiarities that go along with having the NBA playoffs contested at a neutral site.

And that bears watching in this longest NBA season ever, especially in the gambling corridor, because folks who wager have been pounding the chalk throughout the winter, spring and into the summer, betting the Lakers and Bucks to win the title at short odds.

Aside from the Lakers and Bucks, everyone else except the Clippers can be considered an outlier to varying degrees, and the resumption of play will be closely watched because there is a school of thought that says the team(s) that finished the eight games of the regular season with aplomb will be a worthy wager, whether in the ultra-competitive Western Conference or the more lightly regarded (L)Eastern Conference.

The Nuggets went out in seven games in the second round a year ago at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers, and they returned basically the same roster to give it another shot this season. They have six players averaging double figures in points, and Jokic – after battling coronavirus – is the NBA’s only point center and creates matchup problems for every single prospective competitor.

They were missing Will Barton and Gary Harris in their opening scrimmage, but those guards combine for nearly 30 points per game for a team that alternated wins and losses over their final eight games prior to the suspension of the season. Lest anyone forget, they defeated the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks by 12 points on March 9, handing Giannis’ team its third consecutive loss – a streak that helped fuel the LeBron James-for-MVP talk that was rampant before the season was suspended.

Also Read: Bubble betting – Expect the unexpected when the NBA season resumes

Nuggets odds, other movers

The Nuggets are +2500 to win the championship at DraftKings SportsBook and PointsBet, +2700 at FanDuel SportsBook, and +2200 at BetMGM.

“Today we have seen low double-digit bets come in on the Nuggets and Rockets in the championship market,” said Kevin Hennessey, a spokesman for FanDuel. ”But overall, the Nuggets are 2 percent of the handle.”

At DraftKings, a couple of wagers in the hundreds of dollars came in Thursday morning on the Nuggets, but they were not the team that was trending most (despite the Bol Bol factor) in the futures market.

“The team I see constantly over the past 4-5 days is the Sixers. They really stand out for the multiple bets I have seen,” said Johnny Avello, head of risk management at DraftKings. “About every half-hour our exposure on the Sixers continues to go up. There is a set of bets, then another, then another, and for a lot of bettors taking the Lakers, Bucks or Clippers at short odds just makes very little sense at this point.”

At PointsBet, spokesman Patrick Eichner said, “The only sharp money we’ve had outside of the top three is the Pelicans and Blazers both at 150-1 and 125-1 price points.”

Jeff Sherman, vice president of risk management at Superbook USA, has dropped the price on Denver more than any other sportsbook.

“Over the last week we took money at them at 25-1 and 20-1, and they are down to 16-1,” Sherman said. “This format could lend itself to other teams being in the mix. And we’ve seen some Rockets money and Celtics money. Also, for the first set of games, the point totals have been 5-8 points lower than what they would normally be because of the layoff and neutral court environment, and still seeing a majority of ‘under’ bets.”

We will have more on that wagering angle as the start of games that count draw closer.

For now, let’s enjoy the anticipation of the next Bol Bol appearance while we take stock of what the other 21 NBA teams are doing in Orlando. And let’s also wonder whether coach Malone will trot out another starting five with an average height of 6-foot-8.

“That was kind of unusual, but we just made it work with our spacing,” said Bol, who played just eight games in the G League this year and only got to practice with the Nuggets a handful of times. “That was our plan at the beginning of the game. We all discussed that we were all really tall, but as long as we kept our spacing, then everything was going to work. And that’s what happened.”

Bol Bol was either an aberration or a hint of things to come. In this crazy year, you never know. But one thing seems certain: there will be one or two teams who are outliers now but will be a heck of a lot shorter on the odds board a month from now. So for those who wager, if you are interested, get ‘em while the odds are long. They won’t be long forever.

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