The NBA returns tonight with two primetime games. Last season’s champions the Toronto Raptors face the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Clippers face their Staples Center stablemates Los Angeles Lakers.
It looks set to be one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory with multiple teams competing for the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. With that in mind we have previewed some of the main betting markets for all the NBA action this season.
NBA Champions Betting
There’s no doubt that the NBA Finals has had an air of familiarity about them for some time. The Golden State Warriors have represented the Western Conference for the last five years while LeBron James has been the centerpiece for 8 out of the last 9 Eastern Conference Champions.
This year looks set to be much different. This is the year of the ‘deadly duos’. Look across the league and there is a plethora of superstar combos.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis for the Lakers, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for the Clippers, Kyrie Iriving and Kevin Durant in Brooklyn, James Harden and Russell Westbrook for the Rockets and Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic with the Mavericks to name a few. And don’t forget that All-Stars Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and D’Angelo Russell will all wear the blue and yellow of the Warriors this season.
That gives the league a wide-open look to it and it may be hard to pick a winner.
The Clippers are the favourites and rightly so. They were impressive in last season’s playoffs – pushing the Warriors to 6 games – and they have added Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and former MVP candidate Paul George to their roster in the off-season. Leonard lead the Raptors to their first-ever NBA Championship last season and he now joins a franchise who have yet to make it past the 2nd Round of the NBA Playoffs. His talents alone would turn Doc Rivers’ side into contenders. Add Paul George into the mix and that really tips the balance in their favour. Back the Clippers at +325 with CanPlay.
The Lakers can’t be discounted either. Any team with LeBron James will be a contender, no questions asked. The summer signing of Anthony Davis will give Lakers’ fans reason for optimism. A first playoff appearance since 2013 is almost a guarantee but they lack the squad depth to go all the way.
The Western Conference looks as strong as ever. The Warriors will still be in the mix and Mike D’Antoni’s Houston Rockets will be a menace with James Harden and Russell Westbrook in the backcourt. The Portland Trail Blazers will contend again with Dame Lillard and C.J McCollum while the Dallas Mavericks have added Kristaps Porzingis to their young core. The Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings will also be competing for a playoff spot.
The main contenders from the Eastern Conference will be the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers. The Bucks are a tough one to work out. They have no real playoffs pedigree – their only Championship victory coming in 1971. They do, however, have the best player in basketball on their roster. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is the Bucks linchpin. This is a make or break season for the Bucks in their current form. Coach Mike Budenholzer and Antetokounmpo need at least an Eastern Conference Finals appearance to prove themselves.
The Eastern Conference field – with the exception of Brooklyn and Miami – has weakened, and the Bucks need to capitalise. They are listed at +150 to win the Eastern Conference but for us the value bets lie elsewhere.
The 76ers lost Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick in the off-season but replaced them with Josh Richardson and Al Horford. Last year’s mid-season acquisition Tobias Harris will be given more time with the ball in his hands in Butler’s absence. Social media star Joel Embiid has been talking up his MVP chances in the summer and he could be primed for a Finals push. Philly are +220 to come out of the East and +725 to be NBA Champions come June 2020.
The East is not as competitive as the Western Conference and there could be a few one-sided match-ups in the playoffs. The Celtics should be re-energized with Kemba Walker replacing Kyrie Irving. The Nets have added Irving and the injured Kevin Durant to their already talented roster. The Raptors will lock down a playoff place but another Eastern Conference Finals appearance looks out of their reach.
Last year’s MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is the favourite for the award once again. It’s well documented how hard it is to win back-to-back MVP awards but there are multiple factors that might play in Antetokounmpo’s favour. One – his numbers were exceptional last season, if he repeats or betters those statistics then he will be in the running. Two – the Bucks should be at the top-end of the Eastern Conference again. Best regular season record usually equals MVP candidate. Three – a number of the other candidates have competition within their own squad. LeBron James will share the limelight with Anthony Davis, Kawhi with Paul George, Westbrook and Harden. That might knock those six out of the running.
Our prediction for MVP is Stephen Curry. The two-time champion stepped to one side to allow Kevin Durant take center stage for a number of seasons. Durant is now gone and with Klay Thompson out injured Curry really has to shoulder the scoring burden. Expect a record-breaking season from Curry and another MVP award in his trophy cabinet.
Back Stephen Curry at +550 with CanPlay Sports!
Rookie of the Year Betting
Another close market. Zion Williamson looked set to be the unanimous decision only a couple of weeks ago. The Pelicans’ No. 1 Draft Pick is a freak of nature and his four preseason performances were more than enough to create a buzz. Unfortunately it was announced this week that he has already undergone surgery on his meniscus and he’s likely to miss the first eight weeks of the season. Of course that gives him plenty of time to return and make a big impact on the season. However another injury could rule out his chances in the ROY race.
Further down the line, Tyler Herro looks to be the value pick. The Miami Heat draftee has been on fire in the preseason games and he looks set to get plenty of minutes this season with playoff contenders.
All in all, a really exciting season in store.