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2017-18 NBA Season Preview: Best Bets for Every Team

After months of drama, intrigue, heartbreak and numerous tweets by fake Twitter accounts, the NBA season is upon us.

With sports bettors and oddsmakers alike gearing up for another exciting year on the hardwood, I decided to dive into the best wagering opportunities for every squad in the NBA. Filtered by division, here’s where I think you should be placing your money.

Odds courtesy of BetOnline

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics

NBA Coach of the Year Award: Brad Stevens +400

Since coming to the NBA in 2013, Stevens’ ascent to the top of the coaching ranks has been nothing short of amazing. At the age of 40, Stevens is widely regarded as one of the smartest bench bosses in the league and has a litany of new weapons at his disposal with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward entering the fold in the offseason.

Fresh off capturing the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics have already entered the upper echelon of the NBA and are a serious threat to end LeBron James’ reign of terror in the East this year. Stevens is the favorite for a reason – this guy is the real deal.

Brooklyn Nets

OVER 26.5 wins in the regular season -120

I can hear you behind your computer screen right now saying “but Stephen, the Nets are terrible. You’re actually taking the OVER wins for them in the season? Are you crazy?”

Why yes, I am crazy but that’s neither here nor there. For the first time since the catastrophic Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade of 2013 that saw the Nets sabotage their future for one playoff run that fell short, the Nets have a potential franchise player (DeAngelo Russell) and a roster featuring capable NBA players.

Toronto Raptors

OVER 47.5 wins in the regular season -130

Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, the Raptors continued their tradition of playing well in the regular season before cratering in the playoffs a year ago. Rather than opting to blow it up, the front office brought back largely the same team that will very likely place high in the Eastern Conference standings.

I’m expecting the Raptors to be an improved bunch, so a regression from last season’s 51-win club isn’t likely to occur. They won’t beat the Celtics or Cavs in the big dance, but take the OVER on this prop.

Philadelphia 76ers

Ben Simmons to win the Rookie of the Year Award +225

Recently I outlined why I think Simmons will win the ROY Award, which you can read here. Simply put, I think books are expecting a bit too much from Lonzo Ball and are forgetting just how good Simmons is because he missed a full year.

New York Knicks

UNDER 30.5 wins in the regular season -120

The Knicks are a once-proud franchise that seems to grab headlines for all of the wrong reasons year in and year out. Phil Jackson’s disastrous term as team president has mercifully come to an end, and disgruntled “face of the franchise” Carmelo Anthony was finally traded away.

This is going to be a major transition year for the Knicks. Outside of Kristaps Porzingis, the depth chart doesn’t even come close to screaming “playoff team” unless you think Tim Hardaway Jr. is going to move the needle. I’m on the UNDER 30.5 wins all day.

Central Division

Indiana Pacers

Pacers to miss the playoffs -400

Look, I’m going to be honest with you. It’s hard to find much betting value for this team, so I’m taking the near-lock here of Indiana missing the playoffs at the steep price. The Paul George era is officially over, and the return of Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo from the trade is laughable. Indy won’t be a contender again for a while, so don’t expect to see them in the postseason in the spring.

Chicago Bulls

UNDER 22.5 wins in the regular season -110

Speaking of bad teams: the Chicago Bulls, everyone! To say the Bulls are a mess right now would be a massive understatement. Jimmy Butler, the team’s lone star, was traded to Minnesota for a questionable return in the summer and the team is simply devoid of solid NBA talent across the board despite its relatively young roster. If you’ve seen them play in the preseason, you already know why I’m taking the UNDER.

Detroit Pistons

NBA rebounds per game leader: Andre Drummond +250

Drummond, who ranks behind only Hassan Whiteside in this prop, is an absolute monster on the glass. The big man has been an anchor on some underwhelming Pistons teams since he came to the Motor City in 2012, and he’s the reigning rebounds per game leader. He’s only getting better at the age of 24, and I expect him to beat out other stellar players like Whiteside and DeAndre Jordan to claim the award in 2017-18.

Milwaukee Bucks

NBA MVP Award: Giannis Antetokounmpo +1000

The meteoric rise of Antetokounmpo is something to behold. The “Greek Freak,” as he’s affectionately known, is simply unlike any other player in the NBA right now, as his long frame, sheer athleticism and ability to excel in every aspect on both ends of the floor has made him a favorite for many.

He’ll have to leapfrog superstars like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, but I really like Antetokounmpo’s price of +1000 to win his first MVP Award.

Cleveland Cavaliers

OVER 54.5 wins in the regular season +105

The Cavs got a facelift in the offseason in the wake of the blockbuster Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade, but they emerged with a deep and well-rounded roster despite losing their longtime point guard.

Betting the OVER here has more to do with the quality (or lack thereof) of the rest of the Eastern Conference. The East was significantly weakened in the offseason as many star players headed west, so expect the wine and gold to easily surpass the 54.5 number.

Southeast Division

Washington Wizards

Wizards to win the Southeast Division -170

You’re not going to find much value in this prop, but it’s one of the biggest locks on the division futures oddsboard, in my opinion. Washington is far and away the best team in the Southeast Division, with Miami and Charlotte being the only other teams with a fighting chance to claim the banner. Led by the dynamic backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Wiz will be in the thick of things and could make some major noise come playoff time.

Orlando Magic

UNDER 31.5 wins in the regular season -110

The Magic have been lost without a paddle in the past few years, and I’m not expecting that to change in 2017-18. Fresh off a 29-win campaign, the Magic have eclipsed the 32-win mark only once since 2012 and didn’t exactly make any major offseason moves to improve their status in the Eastern Conference.

Miami Heat

Heat to make the playoffs -210

After enduring a brutal start to the 2016-17 season, the Heat went on an absolute tear in the second half and heartbreakingly missed the playoffs on the last day of the campaign. Despite the frustrating result, Miami established itself as a playoff-contending team in the East and should easily be in the mix come the spring thanks to the vastly weakened Eastern Conference.

Atlanta Hawks

UNDER 26.5 wins in the regular season -115

Remember a few years ago when the Hawks won 60 games in the regular season? Those days are gone, as every starting member of that team is now playing elsewhere. Left over is a mess of a team that’s going to toil in the cellar of the East for years to come. Twenty-seven wins seems like a major reach for this Atlanta roster, so take the UNDER and run.

Charlotte Hornets

Hornets to miss the playoffs +200

I’m going against the grain here and taking the Hornets to miss the postseason for a few reasons. Firstly, I don’t think the addition of a broken-down Dwight Howard is going to make much of a difference (see last year’s Atlanta Hawks). Secondly, the Hornets were dealt a huge blow when Nic Batum went down with a long-term injury, so secondary scoring is going to be scarce for this squad.

Northwest Division

Utah Jazz

NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award: Rudy Gobert +325

After years of steady progression, the Jazz took a major step back this summer when longtime star Gordon Hayward left town to join his old college coach Brad Stevens in Boston. Even without Hayward in the fold, the Jazz still have some talented players, and Gobert is at the top of that list.

The “Stifle Tower” has established himself as one of the best defensive players in the league, and he has the third-best odds to win the Defensive Player of the Year Award as a result. The Frenchman was named to the All-Defensive first team a year ago, so it shouldn’t surprise you if he wins the main hardware this time around.

Portland Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers to miss the playoffs +105

The Trail Blazers have done a solid job of remaining competitive in recent years, but being a small-market team in the incredibly tough Western Conference isn’t easy. While it’s hard not to like the backcourt tandem of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, there are simply too many other talented teams in the West right now, and I’m not sure if the Blazers can keep pace. If they were in the East, they’d be a shoo-in, but this conference is a different beast.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Thunder to win the Northwest Division -145

Kevin Durant who? It took only a year for the Thunder to re-establish themselves as a force, as a newly re-signed Russell Westbrook all of a sudden has Paul George and Carmelo Anthony next to him. OKC is going to make things interesting in the West this season and, while I don’t think they’ll be able to outlast the Warriors in the playoffs, I do think they’re going to easily march through the Northwest and claim the division at the end of the season.

Minnesota Timberwolves

UNDER 48.5 wins in the regular season +125

The Timberwolves haven’t seen the promised land since 2004, but that doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Minnesota has patiently been developing a solid young core but made a splash this summer by acquiring Jimmy Butler from Chicago and signing Jeff Teague to run the point.

Minny is going to be downright terrifying for the foreseeable future, but I think oddsmakers are expecting too much out of them. The 48.5 number is a bit high, in my opinion, when you remember they won only 31 games in 2016-17, and chemistry between the new players isn’t going to develop overnight.

Denver Nuggets

OVER 43.5 wins in the regular season

The Nuggets have quietly been assembling a solid young core and would have broken out by now if it wasn’t for the conference they play in. Despite the fierce competition, I expect Denver to eclipse the 43-win mark this season and take a leap into the playoffs.

Nikola Jokic is a superstar already, Paul Millsap adds some badly needed veteran presence and scoring and youngsters Jamal Murray, Emmanuel Mudiay and Gary Harris look like blue-chippers.

Pacific Division

Golden State Warriors

Warriors to win the NBA championship -160

I’m not exactly going out on a limb here by projecting the most talented team in the Association to win the title, but it’s simply tough to bet any other team right now. On the heels of three straight NBA Finals appearances and two championships in the last three years, it’s hard to imagine anyone knocking Stephen Curry and company off their throne this season.

You won’t find any value, but the -160 number is only going to get more expensive as the year goes on and the playoffs creep closer. If you like them, bet them now.

Los Angeles Clippers

OVER 44.5 wins in the regular season -105

Yes, Chris Paul is gone, but it’s not like the Clippers roster is in shambles without the star point guard around. Blake Griffin opted to re-sign with the only franchise he’s ever known in the summer and DeAndre Jordan is still dominating the paint. Patrick Beverley should excel in his first year in Tinseltown while giving the team a shot in the arm on defense. They won’t go far in the playoffs, but I think they’ll get there and win more than 44 contests in the process.

Sacramento Kings

De’Aaron Fox to win the Rookie of the Year Award +1600

I stated earlier in this article that I believe Ben Simmons will win the Rookie of the Year Award, but my long-shot pick is Fox. The fifth pick in the 2017 NBA draft, Fox has all of the tools needed to develop into a superstar and he’ll get ample playing time with the lowly Kings. Injuries played a huge factor in last year’s ROY race and, if one or two of the big names on the list go down, Fox could easily step in and take the crown.

Phoenix Suns

OVER 29.5 wins in the regular season -110

It’s hard to find many good betting angles for the Suns, but the 29.5 number stood out to me here. Phoenix managed to win 24 games a year ago but is finally trending in the right direction with a starting five of Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, TJ Warren, Marquese Chriss and Tyson Chandler. Led by the emerging superstar Booker, expect the Suns to easily eclipse the 29-win mark.

Los Angeles Lakers

UNDER 32.5 wins in the regular season +105

Much like the Knicks, it seems whatever the Lakers do is magnified due to their long-standing stature as one of the NBA’s most storied teams. L.A. has been a sideshow on and off the court in recent years and, while I think they’ve done a nice job assembling young talent, their time hasn’t arrived yet. There will be a lot of hoopla surrounding them but don’t expect them to win more than 32 games.

Southwest Division

Houston Rockets

Chris Paul to lead the NBA in assists per game +300

Clearly unhappy in Los Angeles, Paul sent shock waves around the NBA this summer when he requested to be traded to Houston before he hit free agency. A re-energized Paul playing alongside one of the game’s top scorers in James Harden is going to be scary for the rest of the league.

Some pundits don’t think this experiment will work due to both players’ penchant for needing the ball in their hands, but I think it’s going to be an excellent pairing. The +300 price is nice, too.

Dallas Mavericks

OVER 35.5 wins in the regular season -110

The Mavericks have missed the postseason on only two occasions since the 2000-01 season, with 2012-13 and last year being the only times they haven’t made the big dance. With an aging Dirk Nowitzki playing in the twilight of his career, outspoken owner Mark Cuban has stated many times his team will not blow it up and will attempt to remain competitive.

With Rick Carlisle at the helm, I’ve learned to never write off the Mavs. 35.5 wins is a very reachable mark for them this year, as the offense will be much better behind rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr.

Memphis Grizzlies

Grizzlies to miss the playoffs -230

The “Grit ’n’ Grind” era is over in Memphis and their position as a perennial contender in the Western Conference has concluded as well. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are still around but the rest of the roster is full of holes. Unless you think Chandler Parsons is going to be a difference-maker, take the chalk on this prop.

San Antonio Spurs

Spurs to win the Northwest Division +130

With the addition of Chris Paul, the Rockets have (unsurprisingly) been tabbed as the faves in the Northwest Division this year. While the Rockets were flat-out fantastic a year ago and looked better tailored for the modern NBA than the ever-steady Spurs, any chance you can get to take a Gregg Popovich-coached team at plus-money is too good to pass up.

New Orleans Pelicans

Pelicans to miss the playoffs -130

When the Pelicans traded for DeMarcus Cousins at the all-star break a year ago, many fans and pundits expected New Orleans to rocket up the standings. It didn’t happen. The frontcourt duo of Cousins and superstar Anthony Davis looked terrifying on paper but the two struggled to establish chemistry and the Pellies didn’t sniff the postseason as a result.

Cousins and Davis will be better than they were a year ago but featuring Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore and Dante Cunningham in a starting lineup isn’t going to get it done in the extremely deep Western Conference.

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