The NBA Trade Deadline has passed, and it is time for teams to step up their game and take every single game seriously to get ready for the playoffs. When betting futures, you have to decide exactly how you want to go about things and I think you need to tell a story. I am going to write up three different teams/stories that I like moving forward, simply based on things that I can see happening. Remember that when betting futures, sometimes it is more important to attack value than it is to attack the best teams, allowing you to hedge in the future.
Let’s talk about the Warriors. They look great after getting Boogie Cousins, and I can’t imagine how scary they will be when he is playing 36 minutes in close games. I think that the recent trades around the East have made a few more teams look viable, thus probably decreasing their value a bit. I do not mind betting on the Warriors and just calling it a day. For the Warriors not to win, you will either need injuries or incredibly surprising events. Both of those things are hard to predict, so I am all for just taking the Warriors and planning on collecting your check in June.
The East has recently become a complete mess. Earlier in the year, we saw the Celtics appear to be the clear favorites, with the Raptors behind them. The 76ers and Bucks were cute picks, but no one took them seriously. Now, the Bucks sit at the top of the East and made another trade for a very good rotational player. The Sixers went out and got a borderline All-Star in Tobias Harris. That obviously makes them a real contender as well. The team that I like the most at 10-1 is the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors traded away some bench players for Marc Gasol. Gasol is a very underrated player that can defend guys like Joel Embiid much better than Ibaka and Siakam and he is a fantastic passer. I know Marc Gasol is “old,” but he is MUCH better than people realize. Just 7 games ago, Gasol went for 22/17/10 in over 38 minutes vs. Charlotte. Gasol has the ability to play over 40 minutes if called upon. I think that this addition is going undervalued and allows them to match up with any team in the East. If they get through the East, the number will go down, and you will be able to hedge if they happen to face the Warriors in the Finals.
The West is a very strange place outside of the Warriors, and there are 2 teams that I like for the value. The Nuggets and the Lakers are my two favorite teams because of the story that I think they can create. I believe that the Nuggets will be able to avoid the Warriors until the conference finals, and they will beat the Thunder or the Rockets or whoever else they have to beat to get there, which will lower their odds. I think the Nuggets are going to beat either of those teams if they run into them. My favorite bet is still the Lakers because of how much the line will change with LeBron in the playoffs. This team isn’t nearly as bad as some people would like to believe. For example, since November 1st, the newly-made Lakers are 17-9 when they have Lonzo, Ingram, Kuzma, and LeBron healthy. That team, assuming they are healthy should not be significant underdogs to any team besides the Warriors. If they play the Warriors, I think they are very capable of winning a game on the back of LeBron. If they can gain momentum and beat the Warriors in Oracle, which they have done in a big game this season already. Your 40-1 looks incredibly valuable, and the Warriors’ odds will drop to easily hedge and cash out on both ends if you play it correctly.