It’s time to talk ball.
With October finally upon us, the 2023-24 NBA season is less than a month away, and there is plenty to dive into to help prepare us for betting on The Association this season.
Damian Lillard has finally been traded, the last big domino of the NBA offseason has fallen. Sure, James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers could still part ways, but for now we know where Lillard (Milwaukee) – and Jrue Holiday (Boston) will be playing in the 2023-24 season.
This article is going to be the first of a weekly NBA premier for you, focusing on emerging trends, awards bets and betting takeaways to help you get an edge when wagering on #thisleague.
There are plenty of awards markets to get a position on early in the season that can allow you to hedge as the campaign rolls on. Last season, I found myself in that spot because of a bet on Immanuel Quickley to win Sixth Man of the Year at +20000 odds.
It allowed me to eventually have tickets for both him and Malcolm Brogdon where either winning would net a huge profit. The goal for us is to find some of these players at their preseason number to maximize our payout.
So, without further ado, your 2023-24 NBA betting guide… let’s go!
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The Offseason Moves (Odds and Players)
Bradley Beal to Phoenix
The Phoenix Suns made the first big splash of the offseason, acquiring Beal from the Washington Wizards while sending Chirs Paul to Washington (he’d later be rerouted to Golden State).
Beal had a no-trade clause, allowing the Suns to get a pretty solid deal for one of the better scoring two-guards in the NBA. The issue? Beal may end up playing more point guard than shooting guard alongside Devin Booker.
The Suns also shipped out Deandre Ayton in the Lillard deal (which we’ll get to) to improve their depth. Despite an initial jump, the Suns’ odds have settled at +600 to win the title.
Chris Paul to Golden State – Jordan Poole to Washington
The Warriors freed up some future money this offseason, likely allowing them to extend Klay Thompson after extending Draymond Green this offseason.
Poole struggled at times – especially in the playoffs – in the Sixth Man role for Golden State with Thompson playing a full season. Ultimately, paying $30 million a season for a player who can’t stay on the floor in the playoffs doesn’t work.
Poole gets a fresh start with a rebuilding Washington team while Paul should help the Warriors avoid the huge drop offs they had in the non-Steph Curry minutes last season.
This could be a huge development for Golden State. The past three seasons the Warriors have struggled without Curry on the floor, but it’s been glaring in the two seasons they didn’t win the title.
- 2020-21 season: -4.6 points per 100 possessions without Curry
- 2021-22 season: +0.1 points per 100 possessions without Curry
- 2022-23 season: -2.2 points per 100 possessions without Curry
If Paul can fix that, Golden State could make sense as a preseason Finals bet at +1700.
Damian Lillard Four-Team Deal
- Damian Lillard (via Blazers)
Trail Blazers receive:
- Deandre Ayton (via Suns)
- Toumani Camara (via Suns)
- Robert Williams III (via Celtics)
- Malcolm Brogdon (via Celtics)
- 2029 1st-round pick (via Bucks)
- Two first-round pick swaps with Bucks (2028, 2030)
- 2024 first-round pick (via Golden State)
- 2029 first-round pick (via Boston)
- Grayson Allen (via Bucks)
- Keon Johnson (via Blazers)
- Nassir Little (via Blazers)
- Jusuf Nurkic (via Blazers)
- Jrue Holiday (via Bucks/Blazers)
A lot to unpack here, but the key is this: the odds movement.
Milwaukee and Boston are now both +400 to win the title, jumping ahead of the Denver Nuggets.
The Suns are at +600, but they did improve their depth a bit with Little and Allen joining the rotation.
Biggest free agency moves
- Kyrie Irving – re-signs in Dallas
- James Harden – opts in with Philly
- Kyle Kuzma – re-signs with Washington
- Jordan Clarkson – opts in with Utah
- Jerami Grant – re-signs with Portland
- Fred VanVleet – signs with Houston
- Nikola Vucevic – extends with Chicago
- D’Angelo Russell – re-signs with Los Angeles Lakers
- Austin Reaves – re-signs with Los Angeles Lakers
- Brook Lopez – re-signs with Milwaukee
- Khris Middleton – re-signs with Milwaukee
NBA Finals Odds and Best Bets
Here are the current odds for every team to win the 2024 NBA Finals:
We all know that there are only a handful of real contenders in the NBA every single season. We can see that anyone can win the title, but there are immediately teams that we also can rule out.
So let’s cut through it.
Who truly has the star power, depth and health to truly compete for a title in the 2023-24 season? These are teams that I am eyeing:
Boston Celtics (+400)
Boston has some depth issues, but the addition of Holiday gives the Celtics arguably the best starting lineup in the NBA.
This is an insanely short number for a preseason line for Jayson Tatum and company, but it makes sense given the fact that Boston has been in the Eastern Conference Finals three of the last four seasons.
Denver Nuggets (+600)
The defending champs have the best player in the NBA, and most of their core is back. They’ve become a valuable bet at +600. Denver is my favorite bet on the current board to win the title.
Losing Bruce Brown was tough for the defending champions, but they have a viable replacement in 2022 first-round pick Christian Braun – who played well in the playoffs last season.
Going back-to-back in the NBA is not easy, but since 2000 the Warriors, Lakers (multiple times), and San Antonio Spurs have all done it. Health is a key, but the Nuggets have the personnel to get it done.
Los Angeles Lakers (+1300)
I spoke to Magic Johnson this offseason, and he believes (maybe with a little bias) that the Lakers are the best team in the West.
I don’t know if I’m willing to go that far, but the team has a lot more depth after adding Gabe Vincent, Christian Wood, Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish and Jaxson Hayes in free agency. The Lakers also brought back Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell as well.
As long as LeBron James and Anthony Davis stay relatively healthy, the Lakers have the depth to give both players a breather from time to time. I think this could be a “Last Hurrah” of sorts for LeBron this season.
Teams not mentioned that I consider contenders, just don’t feel as strongly based on their odds: Milwaukee Bucks (+400), Golden State Warriors (+1700), Los Angeles Clippers (+2700)
Dallas Mavericks (+2500)
Dallas is seventh in the current odds but it didn’t even make the playoffs last season.
Oddsmakers seem to be buying a Kyrie Irving-Luka Doncic backcourt, but when has a team with Irving as a key player had any success competing for a title since his time alongside none other than LeBron James? Maybe the 2020-21 season in Brooklyn? That’s it.
The Mavericks let Christian Wood walk, something they clearly wanted as Jason Kidd didn’t want Wood to begin with, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon this offseason. Still, the team added Grant Williams and made a few draft picks. Unless Doncic absolutely carries them, which he has done before, I don’t see Dallas winning a title.
Philadelphia 76ers (+2700)
Until we know a Harden resolution, Philly is way too volatile to bet on to win the title – especially considering the team hasn’t made it out of the second round in the Joel Embiid era.
The Sixers did add Kelly Oubre, which could be an interesting piece, but his numbers last season (over 20.0 points per game for Charlotte) may have been the case of good stats on a bad team.
Memphis Grizzlies (+2800)
Ja Morant will be suspended for 25 games to open the season, and the Grizzlies lost two key role players in Tyus Jones and Dillon Brooks.
Sure, they added Derrick Rose, but he didn’t look like a productive player in New York last season. I don’t see how Memphis survives 25 games without Ja to get a favorable draw in the playoffs in the 2023-24 season. Remember, Memphis has been bounced in the second round or earlier as a No. 2 seed in back-to-back seasons. What would it do without home court?
The Dark Horses
Miami Heat (+3000)
I’m going to consider Miami a dark horse after its odds dropped from +1000 to +3000 following the Lillard deal.
The Heat did lose Vincent and Max Strus this offseason, but they have a strong team that has made two of the last four NBA Finals. They’re worth a sprinkle at +3000.
Oklahoma City Thunder (+8500)
It may be a year too early, but this OKC team has one of the best young cores in the NBA between Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren. Could they make a Grizzlies-type leap this season into a top spot in the West? It may be unlikely, but I don’t think it’s out of the question.
I wouldn't be shocked if the Thunder find themselves in the top six in the West when things are all said and done in the 2023-24 season.
New York Knicks (+5000)
Does continuity matter?
The Knicks kept their entire rotation (outside of Obi Toppin who was traded to Indiana) intact this offseason and added Donte DiVincenzo.
New York re-signed Josh Hart – a player who the team went 17-8 with after the trade deadline last season – and it returns Julius Randle (All-NBA in the 2022-23 season), Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett and others.
Do the Knicks have the star power of other teams in the East? No. However, the team made the second round last season and may have the most underrated player in the NBA in Brunson. They’re certainly not a favorite to win the title, but at +5000 they are priced considerably lower than other middle-tier Eastern Conference teams (Cleveland and Miami at +3000, Philly at +2700).
NBA Finals Best Bets
I want to line up positions in both the Eastern and Western Conference, and we’re going to include some dark horse bets as well. I don’t usually commit huge in terms of units to these futures, because so much can change throughout the season.
Last season, Denver was my biggest future win, taking them at +1800 before the season. Not sure if we’ll hit on something like that again but it’s worth a shot.
- Denver Nuggets (+500) – 1 unit
- Boston Celtics (+400) – 1 unit
- Los Angeles Lakers (+1200) – 0.5 unit
- New York Knicks (+5000) – 0.25 unit
- Miami Heat (+2800) – 0.25 unit
- Oklahoma City Thunder – 0.25 unit
NBA Win Totals
The win total market is interesting this season, with 16 teams at DraftKings Sportsbook set at 42.5 wins or higher. Only 14 teams finished with 43-plus wins in the 2022-23 campaign.
The Washington Wizards (24.5 games) have the lowest win total projection in the NBA this season while the Boston Celtics (55.5) have the highest. Only Boston and Milwaukee won more than 55 games last season.
Last season, I only placed one season-long win total bet (Chicago Bulls UNDER 41.5 wins) because there are a lot of teams that will make the playoffs (Golden State last season), but fall short of a win total because of their decision to rest players on back-to-backs.
The Warriors, Clippers and Lakers are teams I don’t love in the win total market because they are more likely to give their aging stars rest nights than some other teams. Meanwhile, a team like the Knicks may be a better target since Tom Thibodeau rarely lets anyone rest – even if the team is up 20 points with a minute to play in the fourth quarter.
I am playing two win totals this season, and they both happen to be UNDERs.
2 Win Totals to Target in the 2023-24 NBA Season
Dallas Mavericks UNDER 45.5 Wins (-120) – 0.5 Unit
I have Dallas as a “pretender” this season for a reason.
In the Doncic era, the team has won 33, 43, 42, 52 and 38 games. Even with Kyrie Irving in the fold for an entire season, does Dallas really end up with at least a 46-36 record? I don’t see it in a loaded Western Conference.
Irving has a propensity to sit out games, making him less than reliable to play 70-plus contests. Even if he does, did Dallas get substantially better from how it finished last season when it missed the play-in tournament?
The team let Wood walk and added Seth Curry, Grant Williams and draft picks Dereck Lively II and Olivier-Maxence Prosper. I am not putting my faith in two young players to be the reason Dallas turns things around.
Doncic is great, but he’d need to lead the Mavs to their second-highest win total in his NBA career to hit this bet. And even as great as he is, Luka has not played in more than 66 games since his rookie season (he played in 72). I wouldn’t be shocked if the Mavs are in the 42-43 win range, so I’ll gladly take the UNDER with this set at 45.5.
Atlanta Hawks UNDER 42.5 wins (-110) – 0.5 unit
This one may come down to the wire, but I’m once again not sold on the moves Atlanta made this offseason.
The team had a directive to get under the luxury tax, showing that it was willing to part ways with John Collins simply for the sake of salary relief.
Maybe moving Collins frees up time for Jalen Johnson or AJ Griffin to blossom, but the Hawks didn’t add anything in free agency, bringing in veteran guard Wes Matthews. Maybe Kobe Bufkin (the No. 15 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft) turns into something, but Atlanta seems to have taken a step back after a 41-41 campaign last season.
Similar to Dallas, this was a team that thrived in the season following the NBA’s bubble, but unlike the Mavs the Hawks have not come close to that success since.
Trae Young and Dejounte Murray are two All-Star caliber guards, but after that the team is relying on an injury prone De’Andre Hunter and Bogdan Bogdanovic and a lot of unknowns with young players.
The East is loaded, and I’m not sure Atlanta is a 43-win team with this roster.
NBA Awards (Which Futures to Take Before 2023-24 Season)
There’s a new wrinkle in the NBA’s awards this season, as players have to play at least 65 games and 20 minutes per game to be eligible to win the league MVP and the Defensive Player of Year award.
While this shouldn’t have a huge impact on the MVP market (I’ll share why below), there are several trends that I am looking at to help predict this award market:
Only four league MVPs have played less than 70 games since the 1977-78 season
- Joel Embiid in the 2022-23 season
- Giannis Antetokounmpo in the 2019-20 season (shortened because of COVID-19)
- LeBron James in the 2011-12 season (shortened because of NBA lockout)
- Karl Malone in the 1998-99 season (shortened because of NBA lockout)
So, Embiid is the anomaly here. Now, players have to play at least 65 games anyway to be eligible for this award.
There have been seven back-to-back MVPs since 2000
- Tim Duncan, LeBron James (twice), Steve Nash, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic have all won back-to-back MVP awards.
The MVP almost always comes from a team in the top three of their respective conference
- Since 1983, only Russell Westbrook (2016-17) and Nikola Jokic (2021-22) have won an MVP without being a top-three seed. They were both the No. 6 seed.
So, if history repeats itself, and in this award it has, we are looking for players with a path to a top-three seed, that are durable and it doesn’t matter if they have won the MVP in a prior season. In fact, it may help.
Nikola Jokic (+450) – 1 unit
Nikola Jokic should have won the league’s MVP award in the 2022-23 season (in my opinion) but instead he just won a title and a Finals MVP.
Jokic is extremely durable, playing in 69 or more games in each season of his career, and he has a massive impact on his team’s success. His on/off numbers, one of my favorite stats when looking at the league MVP are insane:
Nuggets’ net rating with Nikola Jokic on the floor vs. off (per 100 possessions)
Net Rating W/ Jokic
Net Rating Without Jokic
After voter fatigue cost him in the 2022-23 season, I think there’s a good chance Jokic finds himself back with the MVP this season.
Jayson Tatum (+900) – 0.5 unit
Tatum has played in at least 64 games in each season of his NBA career, and I actually think there is a narrative angle that fits him in the East this season.
Sure, Boston has Jaylen Brown, Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis, but the Celtics don’t have what Giannis Antetokounmpo has in Milwaukee with Damian Lillard. It may be tougher for Giannis to win the MVP with Dame on his team, but I think it opens the door for Tatum if Boston gets the No. 1 seed in the East.
Tatum is going to put up the MVP-caliber numbers (30.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists per game last season), and Boston is projected to have the best record in the NBA.
The MVP race has been essentially between Giannis-Jokic-Embiid for three straight seasons, but there is a path for Tatum to break that up.
Stephen Curry (+1400) – 0.5 unit
I am worried about Curry hitting the 65-game threshold, but his impact his undeniable. Golden State was +5.8 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor last season and -2.2 points per 100 possessions with him off.
I think the Warriors have some room for improvement after posting a dreadful road record last season (11-30), and that could push them into the top three in the Western Conference.
Curry is coming off his best season efficiency wise since the 2018-19 campaign, a sign that he’s still on top of his game. With Chris Paul potentially setting him up to play off the ball a little more, Steph’s scoring numbers could take a jump as well. He’s the furthest I’ll go down the odds board for now as this market shakes out early in the season.
Dark Horse to consider: Anthony Edwards (+3000)
NBA Sixth Man of the Year
Last season, I quite frankly lucked out in this award market by taking Immanuel Quickley at +20000 before he went on a hot stretch to end the season. That allowed me to get a position on Malcolm Brogdon to net a huge profit in this market.
Those two players are at the top of the odds board again this season, but who knows what Brogdon’s role will be after being moved to Portland in the Holiday deal. He may not even finish the season with the Blazers, so I’m uninterested in taking him until we know his exact role.
There are plenty of players who could be starters (Austin Reaves, Tyrese Maxey, Chris Paul, Jordan Poole, Caleb Martin) near the top of the odds in this market.
I’m also disinterested in betting on Quickley after the Knicks signed a guard in Donte DiVincenzo this offseason.
Which is why I’m rolling with…
Malik Monk (+1500) – 1 unit
Monk was in the conversation for this award last season after putting up 13.5 points per game for the Sacramento Kings.
An elite scorer, Monk thrived with consistent minutes in Sacramento, and it’s hard to see the team changing his role after earning a top three seed last season.
Monk has averaged 13.8 and 13.5 points per game the last two seasons and is a career 35.6 percent shooter from beyond the arc. With his role pretty much set in stone, I think Monk’s scoring prowess puts him in a great spot to win the award this season.
NBA Most Improved Player
The Most Improved Player Award has recently been going to an established player that has made a leap with a bigger role or breakout season, more so than a bench player that suddenly becomes productive.
Lauri Markkanen, Ja Morant, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram were all All-Stars in their Most Improved campaigns, so are we looking for another player who can make that leap?
Mikal Bridges makes a ton of sense – hence why he’s the favorite – with his expanded role in Brooklyn. I’ve found this market to truly be the toughest to predict (I had Jalen Brunson last season, but Lauri got the nod), so I don’t plan on making a huge wager here.
Josh Giddey (+2000) – 0.5 unit
This is a bit of a dart throw, but if we’re looking for a player that has a shot at an All-Star team and a playoff spot, Giddey makes a lot of sense.
The former lottery pick stuffs the stat sheet – averaging 16.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game last season. He played less minutes, but increased his points per game average by 4.1 points, shooting nearly seven percent better from the field and 6.2 percent better from beyond the arc.
Giddey is going to be a facilitator for a lethal offense with SGA, Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams. If he can push a statline of 18-8-8, which I think is entirely possible, he has a chance to win this award.
With its volatility, this may be a market I come back to a month or so into the season.
NBA Defensive Player of the Year
Evan Mobley (+600) – 0.5 unit
Evan Mobley led the NBA in defensive win shares last season, and he’s put up the counting numbers in the blocks department (1.7 and 1.5 in his first two seasons) to be considered for this award.
Jaren Jackson Jr. blocks a ton of shots, but he also doesn’t stay healthy, appearing in less than 65 games in all but one of his NBA seasons. You need to play 65 to be eligible for DPOY, which I think gives Mobley the edge.
One player worth monitoring in this market is Bam Adebayo, but the issue with Bam is that he’s a center who doesn’t block as many shots as you’d think (0.9 blocks per game for his career). Even though he’s an incredible on-ball defender and can switch as well as anyone in the league, we have to remember that these awards are voted on by humans, and they want to see the stats. It’s unfortunate, but that leads to me taking Mobley over Bam in this race.
NBA Rookie of the Year
Scoot Henderson (+250) – 1 unit
The Rookie of the Year race looks to be a three-manbattle between Victor Wembanyama, Chet Holmgren and Scoot Henderson.
There’s plenty of precedent for Holmgren – the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft – to win the award after Ben Simmons and Blake Griffin did it after being injured for their first NBA seasons.
This has felt like Wembanyama’s award to lose because of the hype surrounding him, but he also looked human at times in his short Summer League stint this offseason.
I also have almost no interest in betting on a future at +100 odds for a player who has never appeared in an NBA game. I think Wemby is going to be terrific, but there is just no value there.
After the top three in this market, there is a significant drop off with wings Brandon Miller (+1500) Cam Whitmore (+2000) rounding out the top five. The Thompson twins (Amen and Ausar) both find themselves closer to +2500 or +3000.
I would have liked Amen Thompson had the Rockets not signed Fred VanVleet, and I also don’t love Whitmore since we’ve seen Houston’s offense become very stagnant these past few seasons. There are too many young players there that need shots for me to bet on a Rocket.
Miller is an interesting case with Kelly Oubre Jr. now in Philly, but Miles Bridges is back – as is PJ Washington – and the Hornets appear to be trying to compete for a playoff spot. Will Miller get the touches to outplay Scoot, Chet and Wemby who all have direct paths to lead roles? That’s a risk I’m not willing to take.
Health is super important – like it is for any award – so it’s always possible one of the rookies further down the board could win if Scoot, Chet and Wemby all get hurt.
For now, Henderson at +250 is the only bet I’m going to have in this market. The Lillard trade showed that Portland is handing him the keys to the offense, and I think he has a better path to big offensive numbers than Holmgren, since he has to play alongside SGA, Giddey, Jalen Williams and others.
Wemby probably wins this award, but maybe he gets off to a slow start and we can get him at a better number than +100.
Peter’s Preseason NBA Bets
NBA Finals Best Bets
- Denver Nuggets (+500) – 1 unit
- Boston Celtics (+400) – 1 unit
- Los Angeles Lakers (+1200) – 0.5 unit
- New York Knicks (+5000) – 0.25 unit
- Miami Heat (+2800) – 0.25 unit
- Oklahoma City Thunder (+8000) – 0.25 unit
NBA Win Total Best Bets
- Dallas Mavericks UNDER 45.5 Wins (-120) – 0.5 Unit
- Atlanta Hawks UNDER 42.5 wins (-110) – 0.5 unit
NBA Awards Best Bets
- Nikola Jokic (+450) – 1 unit
- Jayson Tatum (+900) – 0.5 unit
- Stephen Curry (+1400) – 0.5 unit
Sixth Man of the Year
- Malik Monk (+1500) – 1 unit
Defensive Player of the Year
- Evan Mobley (+600) – 0.5 unit
Most Improved Player
- Josh Giddey (+2000) – 0.5 unit
Rookie of the Year
- Scoot Henderson (+250) – 1 unit
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.