NBA futures are increasing in popularity in the NBA betting landscape. Futures are bets on an event happening in the future, such as the conference finals champion or the Most Valuable Player. Popular NBA futures odds include NBA Finals winner, Western Conference Finals and Eastern Conference Finals winners, team regular-season win totals, whether a team will make the NBA playoffs and individual awards such as NBA MVP, NBA Rookie of the Year and NBA Coach of the Year.
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Why Bet on NBA Futures?
There are plenty of reasons to bet on NBA futures. Let's dive into some of the top reasons, along with how you should approach it.
Payouts Are Bigger
While bets against the spread offer a roughly 50% chance you’re going to cash, NBA futures typically offer far-larger payouts (because the risk is greater), whether it be for NBA Finals winner, MVP or even Rookie of the Year. It’s a chance to back a long shot.
For instance, the Portland Trail Blazers could be favorites to make it to the Western Conference Finals and advance to the NBA Finals, sitting at +150. But you are not sold, and there is not a ton of value there, as a $100 wager would net just $150 in profits. But you see the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors each offering +900 odds.
You pop those odds into our odds calculator and see a $25 on either San Antonio or Golden State would net you $225 profit if they win the conference finals. So, you can take a flier on the Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Steph Curry to lead the Warriors as they have in the past, plus bet on the Spurs. You’re risking half the amount ($50 vs. $100), have two chances to win and increase your potential payout.
The same applies NBA MVP Odds. Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks is the overwhelming favorite to win the MVP, so betting him would not present much reward. Taking a chance on a James Harden or Kevin Durant isn’t a huge stretch from a basketball perspective, especially if Giannis Antetokounmpo gets hurt. Futures odds allow you to have some fun and look for a bigger payout.
Take Advantage Of Knowledge
NBA Futures can be appealing to every variety of sports bettor, from the beginners to the professionals. And for those who really know their NBA odds, there are opportunities to exploit lines that aren’t where they should be. Whereas sportsbooks break down individual games using algorithms and other data, the futures markets aren’t always as spot-on, and little nuggets of knowledge can pay dividends.
For those who closely follow one specific team, no matter if it’s the Brooklyn Nets or Chicago Bulls, win totals are a popular way to take advantage, accurately projecting the Over/Under on a team’s amount of regular-season wins.
Futures Can Be Bought At Any Time
Even when NBA games aren’t going on, NBA futures are available. Futures odds can be bet during the offseason, at any point during the regular season and even throughout the NBA playoffs. Odds change based on how the season progresses, so picking a team or player at the right time can pay off bigger than at other times.
What Impacts NBA Futures Odds?
Team Streaks, Injuries Move Lines
NBA futures odds change all the time based on myriad reasons. Knowing when to lay a bet can make a huge different in winning small, winning big or not winning at all.
Team success plays a key role in how NBA futures odds move. If the Boston Celtics win five in a row, their NBA Finals odds are likely to shorten. If the Golden State Warriors lose six straight, their odds will rise.
Injuries to key players can be just as important, if not more so, than team winning and losing streaks. If LeBron James is expected to miss a significant amount of time due to injury, the Los Angeles Lakers’ title chances are likely to rise. So, too, would LeBron James’ NBA MVP futures odds.
NBA Trade Deadline Is Critical
It’s not just how NBA teams are playing or the health of their star players that can change the NBA futures odds. How other teams are playing can also affect line. In addition, the NBA trade deadline is among the busiest and more-significant transactions times of the year and can drastically alter the title hopes of teams that don’t even make moves.
Pay Attention to Free Agency
If you have an inkling that Kevin Durant is about to join the Brooklyn Nets or that not only will Kawhi Leonard join the Los Angeles Clippers, but convince Paul George into doing the same, you can jump on those odds before sportsbooks and the general betting public catch up. The Los Angeles Clippers odds surged when Paul George and Kawhi Leonard joined the team, making them the favorite over LeBron James and the Lakers, not just to win the Western Conference but for the title, too.
Future NBA Awards to Bet On
Hall of Famers, super teams and top picks dominate the most popular NBA future odds such as NBA Championship Odds, NBA MVP and NBA Rookie of the Year odds. But there are a handful of other NBA future bets and NBA futures lines that are worth wagering on that include some lesser-known players that can yield some serious winners.
Defensive Player of the Year: Offense is king in the NBA these days, but ironically that has made this award even more prestigious. In a league of scorers, the best defenders have become more valuable. Versatile big men anchoring the league’s best defenses have a leg up on the competition, though longer, quicker wings are the newest and hottest NBA trend.
Sixth Man of the Year: As the NBA’s talent pool increases, benches become deeper and a more important part of the game. The Sixth Man of the Year award goes to the best reserve, and in the past that’s meant a scoring guard who infuses the second unit and can close out games with four other starters.
Most Improved Player: Diamonds in the rough come in all shapes and sizes, and no other NBA futures award is more difficult to pinpoint than this one. Usually the best NBA futures bet for the league’s most improved player is someone who makes an enormous leap in scoring and plays for a winning team.
Coach of the Year: Most team success goes to the players and its failures fall on the head coach. But there’s an NBA futures bet for them, too. Simply winning isn’t enough – otherwise former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson would have 11 of these trophies. It’s about a team that makes a jump from good to great, or great to elite.
Scoring Champion: No votes needed here. Scoring totals are booming and teams are taking and making more 3-pointers than ever before. That means individual scoring is on the rise, so the battle for the league leader in points per game is one of the toughest yearlong battles in NBA futures bets.
Rebounding Champion: Yes, bigs still have a spot in today’s NBA, especially when it comes to NBA futures on the rebounding champion. Traditional centers don’t have the same impact on the game offensively anymore, but they still hold a valuable asset racking up rebounds to gain or keep possession for their team.
Assists Champion: Usage rates for star players are climbing thanks to players such as James Harden and Russell Westbrook, and in addition to their scoring prowess, ball handlers are also passing at high clips. Pace is up, which means possessions are up, which means more opportunities for assists. High-usage point guards make the best bets here.
RELATED: Check out our NBA Expert Picks all season long
Betting Strategies for NBA Futures
Visit Multiple Sportsbooks
Visiting multiple sportsbooks for game odds can pay off, but it’s especially true when it comes to futures. Sites can dramatically vary in terms of NBA Finals and player awards futures. The more online sports betting sites you visit, the more likely you’ll come across a gem. Besides, you can get multiple welcome bonuses by signing up at multiple sportsbooks.
Consider Hedging Your Bet
If your big underdog is still alive in the playoffs, you may want to hedge the bet. That means putting a wager on another team, thus increasing your chances for payout. For instance, if you bet on the Cleveland Cavaliers as a long shot to win the Eastern Conference and they are underdogs to the Indiana Pacers, bet a small stake on the Pacers to win that series. You reduce your potential reward but also reduce your risk.
You can do it in reverse as well. If you have bet on the favorite Memphis Grizzlies to win the NBA title and they are facing the Pacers, a small stake on the underdog would guarantee you a payout
Favorites Win In the NBA
One trend to consider when it comes to NBA futures odds and the NBA Finals: It’s rare the NBA champion was a big surprise. More often than not, oddmakers were pretty close in their preseason prognostications.
Over the last 35 years, just nine times was the eventual winning champion priced at higher than +700 in the preseason. Oddsmakers back star teams, and in the NBA they usually win in best-of-seven playoff series.
The Clippers, Lakers, Bucks and Rockets were the four teams at +700 or lower when the 2019-2020 season began.
There are exceptions to the rule, including for 2018-19, when Leonard and the Toronto Raptors shocked the NBA world by winning the title. The Raptors were +1850 to win it all in the preseason, +975 when the playoffs tipped off.