By Justin "Smoove" Everett
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Now that we have at least one team in the NBA Finals with the Phoenix Suns winning the Western Conference, we're going to take a look at some future bets that could have some nice +EV value.
Going back to this past offseason, when the Suns traded for Chris Paul and signed Jae Crowder, personally I was really high on them and picked them to be one of my surprise teams this year. But with them making the NBA Finals, even I admit that was a bit of a surprise in itself. When you take into consideration the amount of injuries happening to some of the NBA top 10 players this postseason, however, the Suns were simply able to take advantage of the situation and remain relatively healthy enough to make it to the end.
At the beginning of the season the Suns were 20/1 to win the title at some shops and are now the odds-on favorites to win the title at -175 (FanDuel/DraftKings), so while the value for a nice payout for that bet is essentially gone, the -175 still isn’t a terrible number. The bet I like the most, however, is a player future bet on Devin Booker at +260 to be named Finals MVP, and it's for a few different reasons which I'll break down below. Of the players left in the playoffs, Booker is third in scoring with 27 PPG on 44% shooting from the field. At only 24 years of age and in three close out games this postseason he’s delivered in a big way by averaging 34.3 PPG, 9.6 RPG and 3.6 APG while shooting 50% from the field and 39% from 3PT.
Regardless of either team that wins the Eastern Conference currently between the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks, Booker should also have a clear advantage in his finals matchup as well. Booker is a Kobe Bryant disciple, and with LeBron James (still the current face of the NBA) on the backend of his career, the NBA simply needs a young face to promote the league. I believe Booker is in the best situation for that responsibility. He and Chris Paul make up an amazing backcourt, sure, and Paul is currently the favorite to win this award at +165 on FanDuel (both players are exactly +200 on DraftKings), but Booker has the slightly higher offensive rating this postseason and Paul looks to get Booker involved in games being a the true floor general and "point god" that he is. It could be just that fact alone which gives Booker the edge.
The Suns are clearly playing the best basketball of the three teams left in the playoffs with a 12-4 record this postseason, and this young team will be motivated to not only win the title, but to win it for Paul and to erase the narrative that Booker hasn’t played any meaningful basketball in his career until this year.
Being named the NBA Finals MVP for his first playoff run would silence all of the critics and quickly develop a new narrative, all while still erasing the CP3 narrative of him not winning a championship. The fact that DraftKings has this evenly lined is a more appropriate valuation of the market in my opinion, which is why we will take advantage of whatever edge/value we can get with Booker being mis-priced as the underdog.
Like: Devin Booker Finals MVP +260 @ FanDuel