NBA Futures: “Middle Class” Brings the Betting Value
The NBA has barely gotten its feet wet this year, but as far as bettors are concerned, the title chase is already down to four teams. The Golden State Warriors are still favored over the field at –110, followed by the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers (+300) and the San Antonio Spurs (+750). The Los Angeles Clippers (+750) have joined this elite group after a hot start to the 2016-17 campaign.
It’s a giant step down from there to +4000 on the NBA futures market. Nonetheless, there are several fringe contenders available at those odds, and even longer, who can give the four alpha teams a run for their money. Here are three of them, starting with a particular dinosaur-themed club from north of the border.
At press time, Toronto was fourth in the Eastern Conference in point differential at plus-3.4, well behind the league-leading Clippers at plus-13.7. But the Raptors have yet to put their full starting lineup on the court. Newly-signed power forward Jared Sullinger (+1.1 BPM last year with Boston) had surgery on his left foot during the preseason and isn’t expected to make his debut until December at the earliest. While rookie Pascal Siakam (–1.0 BPM) has shown plenty of promise starting in Sullinger’s place, having both in the lineup would give Toronto a leg up in the East.
The Bulls gave themselves an aggressive makeover during the offseason, and it’s paid off so far; they’re third in the East with a plus-6.3 point differential. There’s still plenty of concern about the make-up of this team, featuring the crusty starting backcourt of Rajon Rondo (–0.4 BPM) and Dwyane Wade (+2.7 BPM). The bench strength looks like it’ll be a problem this year, but swingman Jimmy Butler (+7.9 BPM) has been playing at an MVP level. If Butler can keep it up, Chicago can compete with the big boys.
They lost Kevin Durant (+7.9 BPM last year) to the Warriors, and Serge Ibaka (–0.1 BPM) to the Orlando Magic, but the Thunder still have enough firepower to post a plus-1.5 point differential in the unforgiving Western Conference. They’re getting remarkable results from Russell Westbrook (+15.7 BPM) at both ends of the court, and the OKC defense is fifth in the league at 100.8 points allowed per 100 possessions. Once again, balance and bench depth are major concerns, but it’s hard to ignore what Westbrook is doing this year – even if he doesn’t play for the Warriors or Cavs.