Phan: My 2018-19 NBA Futures Bets

Phan: My 2018-19 NBA Futures Bets article feature image
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Photos via USA Today Sports. Pictured: Jimmy Butler, Stephen Curry, and DeMar DeRozan.

  • The 2018-19 NBA season will tip off next Tuesday, October 16.
  • Below I detail the futures bets I've made for the upcoming season and why I've bet them.

I’ve never been that into betting NBA futures, mainly because it involves tying my money up for a long period of time, but I couldn’t help but fire at a few this year with all the futures content we’ve done here at The Action Network.

Below is my full portfolio of futures bets. Some were placed as recently as Thursday, while others were placed more than a month ago when I was in Vegas.

Bet #1: Utah Jazz over 48.5 wins (-115)

Amount: 2.3 units to win 2 units

Bet #2: Utah Jazz to win Northwest Division (+204)

Amount: 2.456 units to win 5 units

The Jazz tied for the biggest difference between their actual and expected record last season, as they finished with 48 wins despite having the point differential of a 55-win team. They ran really bad with injury luck as well, losing a league-high 12.9 wins to injuries, per ManGamesLost.com. Not having Rudy Gobert for 26 games hurt in a big way, and his value was evident down the stretch, as the Jazz went 30-8 after he returned in mid-January.

There isn’t much not to like about the Jazz, really. They have the star power up top with Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, and they boast a deep bench that gives Quin Snyder plenty of options to go big with Derrick Favors or smaller with Jae Crowder or Thabo Sefolosha. They don’t turn the ball over and take a ton of corner 3s. Continuity won’t be an issue, either, as they’ll return 85% of their minutes from last season.

The Thunder present the biggest challenge in the Northwest, and while we should expect better injury luck from the Jazz, the Thunder enter the season with major health concerns.

The impact of Andre Roberson’s injury can’t be overstated. The Thunder had the league’s best Net Rating with him on the court and fell to 17th with him off. Only Kawhi Leonard had a better Defensive Rating than Roberson did last season, and there’s a good chance the Colorado product won’t be 100% back until around the All-Star break.

Russell Westbrook still hasn’t been cleared for full contact and remains uncertain for the season opener, and the preseason play of OKC’s power forwards (Jerami Grant, Patrick Patterson) has been nothing short of a disaster. If Russ has to miss time with that knee injury, which is a distinct possibility, things will get dicey in a hurry for a rotation already down a key player.

Bet #3: Golden State Warriors to win NBA Title (-160)

Amount: 5 units to win 3.125 units — booked with CSURAM88

The going price for this currently is Warriors -195 or -200, so I’m more than happy to get the vig-free discount (betting with friends has its perks).

It’s entirely possible the Warriors hit the snooze button and coast during the regular season, but they’ve shown year after year that they’re able to flip the switch (especially on defense) come playoff time.

But what about injuries? Well, they were actually second in wins lost (12.8)  due to injuries last season and survived a knee sprain to Stephen Curry that knocked him out of the first round of the playoffs. As long as the Warriors are able to dodge a season-ending injury and are at full health by the Conference Finals, this feels like a slam dunk. Boston and (maybe) Houston are the only two teams I could see getting on the Warriors’ level and pushing them in a seven-game series.

Yes, their bench isn’t as deep this season, but rotations shorten the further you get in the playoffs, and the eight-man group of Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala and Jordan Bell is as good as it gets.

Bet #4: Minnesota Timberwolves under 43.5 wins (-146)

Amount: 2.92 units to win 2 units

Bet #5: Miami Heat to win Southeast Division (+211)

Amount: 2.37 to win 5 units

These bets obviously have a lot to do with the ongoing Jimmy Butler hostage situation. Butler appears to have burned too many bridges already for the Wolves to drag this on much further, and Miami has consistently been the primary destination mentioned in trade talks.

I like the Wolves under at 43.5 in pretty much every scenario of how this plays out. If they end up trading Butler, there’s no way they’ll get back players of comparable value, and we got a good look at how bad they were last season with Butler off the floor (-4.5 Net Rating, 25th). If he stays, that locker room is going to be extremely toxic with tensions bubbling under the surface.

The division bet was a bit aggressive, but I felt it was a good time to jump at those odds while I could. It’s already down to +140 at Westgate and should move closer to even odds if Butler does end up getting dealt to Miami.

It also reflects how skeptical I am of a Wizards team that always finds a way to underperform relative to its talent. A lot of that has to do with having the worst chemistry of any team in the league, an issue that will only get worse after adding Dwight Howard.

Speaking of Howard, we joke about this deep butt pain he’s experiencing, but it’s actually pretty concerning. It’s similar to sciatica in that it causes irritation to the sciatic nerve, which results in pain, numbness and weakness down the back of the thigh, calf and foot. He’s at serious risk of missing the opener, and his teammates are already preparing for life without him.


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Bet #6: Trae Young to win Rookie of the Year (+1030)

Amount: 0.243 units to win 2.5 units

From “Staff Picks: Favorite 2018-19 NBA Futures Bets”:

There isn’t another rookie with a more direct path to minutes and usage than Young, who already has the inside track on Jeremy Lin for the starting point guard job in Atlanta. It doesn’t make sense that Young has longer odds than Collin Sexton (+456) and Marvin Bagley (+984) and comparable odds to Jaren Jackson Jr. (+1240) when all three are likely to come off the bench to start the season.

And while Deandre Ayton and Luka Doncic have legit competition for touches and shots, Young has to compete with … Taurean Prince and John Collins. This award is all about counting stats, and Young is positioned as well as any rookie to deliver them.

Bet #7: Milwaukee Bucks over 47.5 wins (-131)

Amount: 2.62 units to win 2 units

Matt Moore did a great job covering the over angle here.

Bet #8: San Antonio Spurs under 45.5 wins (+105)

Amount: 1 unit to win 1.05 units

I put this bet in about a minute after the news broke that Dejounte Murray tore his ACL. Since then, the over/under has fallen to 43.5 at Westgate and Derrick White, who was supposed to fill in for Murray as the starting point guard, has been ruled out for six-to-eight weeks. On a roster full of older veterans, Murray was the Spurs’ only wild card who could significantly raise their ceiling on both ends of the floor and inject some much-needed youth and athleticism.

Murray is far and away the Spurs’ best defender, and it’s hard to envision them being any better than league average on that end of the floor while featuring the likes of DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and LaMarcus Aldridge. They should be able to grind out enough offense between that trio, though it won’t come without some struggles given their lack of 3-point shooting.

The Spurs have made 21 straight playoff appearances, but this could be the season when that streak finally comes to an end.

Note: For reference, 1 unit = $1,000.