Editor's Note: This article is a preview of our upcoming Betting Predators NBA In-Season Package, which was built to provide you with the best quality DFS and player prop analysis for the 2021 season. Our NBA In-Season Package features prominent hoops handicappers in Sleepy J, Smoove and Mackenzie Rivers, as well as Chris Dell, former Brooklyn Nets beat reporter and fantasy sports/player prop analyst for the Betting Predators. Our In-Season Package includes daily DFS Top Plays, daily player prop content, NBA betting strategy/analysis, exclusive subscriber-only live stream shows and more. As a subscriber you'll get access to all of our daily 2021 NBA In-Season content for the lowest price, from now through the end of the NBA Finals, in addition to bonus DFS/player prop content in golf, baseball, UFC, NASCAR and more.
With the NBA regular season soon coming to an end, this weekly column will cover a lot of different profitable spots and situations when it comes to playoffs, as well as handful of teams that are fighting for the play-in tournament. Angles such as player props, playoff series odds, totals, future series odds and the zig zag theory will be some of the major topics analyzed here as I try to uncover some knowledgeable information that will be useful and profitable for us in both the short term and long term as sports bettors. The NBA Playoffs are all about matchups, adjustments and timing. The coaches edge shows up more during this time too, so as the playoffs advance from round to round the oddsmakers will release sharper numbers. By covering these topics and gaining a better understanding of how the books will react, we will knowing when to attack and still uncover the edge we need to have a profitable postseason run. Now without further adieu let's dive into the first edition of our weekly futures stock market strategy report:
Nikola Jokic -380
Joel Embiid +350
Stephen Curry +1800
Giannis Antetokounmpo +2000
Damian Lillard +3600
A couple of things that standout to me when viewing the top five players with the best odds to win the MVP award this year - first off, the Utah Jazz have been the best team record-wise in the NBA all season and their best player in Donovan Mitchell is having the best year of his career by averaging career highs in PPG, APG, 3PA and 3PT%. Yet Mitchell doesn’t really have a shot at winning this award, sitting at +16000.
Something else that stands out to me is that there’s been a different leader at the top of the list every few weeks because players have been dealing with injuries and causing them to miss time. At the beginning of the season the favorite was Luka Doncic, but his team got off to a bad start and they dealt with COVID for a period of time. Then LeBron James emerged as the leader until he went down to ankle injury. Then it was Joel Embiid - as well as James Harden - who were leaders at some point until being sidelined because of various injuries. Although Nikola Jokic is now the heavy favorite at -380 on FanDuel, I do not believe he will take the trophy home. The Nuggets currently sit in the 4th seed and 5.5 games out of first place in the Western Conference with 11 games left to play. Even though his stats are elite, there are players playing just as good, if not better, who’s teams have better records than his, like the Bucks with Giannis and the 76ers with Embiid. The 76ers have held the top seed in the East pretty much all season, and they have a better chance of staying atop the east with the easiest remaining schedule and 11 games remaining in the regular season, according to Tankathon.com - I would grab his odds at +350 now while you still can.
Best Bet: Joel Embiid +350
To Win The Championship:
Brooklyn Nets +220
Los Angeles Lakers +350
Los Angeles Clippers +600
Utah Jazz +700
Milwaukee Bucks +750
Ever since the Nets made the trade for James Harden to form their new big three with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, Brooklyn has been the clear cut favorite to win the title - and I disagree. Yes, they have the best individual talent at the top of the roster that the league has (arguably) ever seen, but winning a championship isn’t about individual talent - it's about the most complete team playing at its best together, as well as the old cliche of “defense wins championships,” which this Nets squad is not accustomed to doing either. Out of the five aforementioned favorites the Nets have the worst defensive rating (24th) and the worst opponent eFG% (14th). The NBA Playoffs are also about chemistry and coaching adjustments, and I believe that the Nets will also have the worst chemistry and coaching out of the five favorites as Steve Nash is a first-time head coach and the Nets' big three has played less than 10 games together (!) all season. They likely won’t play another game together until the start of round one of the playoffs too, which could end up being a difficult matchup for them based on seeding (i.e. Miami, Boston or New York).
My pick here is the Los Angeles Clippers. After how they were sent home last year during the bubble, there’s no team that has more motivation than them and this year I believe they’re even better. The Clippers made a big coaching change to Ty Lue, who’s been using Paul George in a number of different ways on the offensive end. George is having another career year, and they've also added a couple players to the roster in Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins who I believe will have a huge impact in the playoffs. I always had felt that the Clippers' biggest weakness was not having a point guard that could be a floor general/leader to help their offense create easier shots for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in tough games, and Rondo is a perfect fit for that role, especially as the NBA Playoffs are rapidly approaching.
Since Rondo has been with the Clippers over the last nine games, they’re tied for the second best record at 7-1, have the 4th best net rating (+8.2) and have the best offensive rating in the league (120.4). The Clippers also have the 4th best record in the league against teams over .500 (20-14), and I simply believe they’re the most complete team when it comes to star players, role players, coaching and motivation.
Best Bet: Los Angeles Clippers +600
To Make The Playoffs:
- Golden State Warriors +110
- Charlotte Hornets +110
- San Antonio Spurs +270
- Washington Wizards +270
- Toronto Raptors +610
The odds to make the playoffs will come down to who will grab the 7th/8th seeds in each conference after the play-in tournament. In the Eastern Conference I believe the Miami Heat will finish as the 7th seed, so in essence my opinion here comes down to who will finish in the 8th seed after the play in tournament is settled. My pick is the Washington Wizards at +270 - these Wizards got off to a horrible start at the beginning of the season, going 3-8 in their first 11 games while Bradley Beal did his best to carry the team by leading the league in scoring. But one of their best players - the newly-acquired Russell Westbrook - was also dealing with a quad injury, as well as losing starting center Thomas Bryant to a torn ACL.
Washington also struggled defensively and dealt with a COVID outbreak that forced them to miss over a week of action. When they were able to return to playing, they barely had seven healthy bodies for some games. But the Wizards were still able to overcome all of those obstacles and won 7 of 10 games heading into the NBA All-Star break. Westbrook was able to get healthy too, as he’s averaging a triple-double for the fourth time in his career (21 PPG, 11 RPG and 11 APG) and at the trade deadline they found a diamond in the rough in getting Daniel Gafford from the Chicago Bulls. Gafford was barely in the rotation for Chicago, but since he’s been with the Wizards he’s averaging 12 PPG, 6 RPG and 2 BPG in just 18 MPG.
Gafford has had a huge impact on both ends of the floor, and Washington head coach Scott Brooks has said at some point he plans to move him into the starting lineup. Gafford's PER 36 numbers are 24 PPG, 12.5 RPG and 4.2 BPG if you average his current numbers out to starter minutes, which would put him in an elite class of big men in the NBA. The Wizards, who have also won 8 of their last 10 games, have signficantly improved on the defensive end - an area they badly needed to improve - as they previously ranked bottom 10 or worse in defensive rating and opponent eFG%. Over their last 10 games, however, they've ranked first overall in defensive rating and sixth overall in opponent eFG%. The Wizards also have the 13th easiest schedule remaining with 11 games left in the regular season, according to Tankathon.
Best Bet: Washington Wizards To Make Playoffs +270