NBA Title Odds & Futures: Our Staff’s Early 2024 Championship Betting Leans, Predictions
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Gordon #50 of the Denver Nuggets celebrates with the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
The 2022-23 NBA season is officially in the books and we're only 125 days away from the start of the next season.
The Denver Nuggets haven't even had their victory parade yet, but our NBA crew couldn't help themselves. They took a look at the 2024 NBA championship oddsboard to answer the most important question on the minds of NBA bettors: Who's taking home the Larry O'Brien Trophy next season?
The Nuggets are the favorites across the board. The Miami Heat are middle of the pack. The Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns are all lurking with Game 5 of the NBA Finals still visible in the rearview and the NBA Draft and free agency (trade season) just ahead.
Senior writer Matt Moore, staff writer Brandon Anderson and contributor Joe Dellera give their thoughts on the 2024 NBA title odds and futures below.
Is a Nuggets Repeat or Heat Title Worth Betting?
Nikola Jokic was the MVP from the start of the season throughout the Finals, and his playoff stats (30.0 points, 13.5 Rebounds, and 9.5 assists on 54.8%/46.1%/79.9%) will go down in history as one of the greatest postseasons we have seen from an individual player.
There will be talk about whether or not Denver had an easier path, but the Nuggets earned that path, and many thought they would lose to the Phoenix Suns or the Los Angeles Lakers along the way. The narrative shouldn’t be changed, because the Nuggets were simply a buzzsaw throughout the entire postseason. This was a dominant team and strong playoff performance for the first-time champs.
This Nuggets team will be dangerous again next season and should return with the majority of their core contributors, a seeming rarity in this NBA. They are the rightful favorites to repeat next season. Am I betting it right now at +500 (BetMGM)? Absolutely not, but there may be a time closer to the playoffs where there’s something actionable.
On the other side we have the Eastern Conference champions. Could there be another Heat team next year? I’m not sure. Miami’s playoff run was incredibly successful, especially considering its place in the standings. The Heat's playoff success and determination were admirable, but maybe this roster is maxed out. It will be interesting to see what Miami does with the current roster in the offseason.
Target a Familiar Contender With Value
Matt Moore: I’ll be posting my annual "three bets to make for 2024" title article later this week, and this will be one of them. It’s the most obvious, so it gets this slot.
The Warriors had a bad year. We told you to bet the under on their win total, because of the history of teams with high win totals and the history of teams that make cross-continental trips Asia during preseason and how it disrupts training camp.
But there were other issues: James Wiseman flamed out, the bench didn’t develop, Jordan Poole regressed and clearly struggled with the team after the punch in training camp, Klay Thompson had a bad season, the Warriors lacked size and Draymond Green isn’t quite the guy he once was.
But all of these issues are things they can bounce back from. The Warriors don’t need to improve their ceiling, they need to shore up their margin for error. Stephen Curry was still incredible this season and will continue to be. If anything, a longer offseason should do wonders for their top three players
Bob Myers was vital to their success, I’m not going to undercut that. I feel worse about the long-term future of the Warriors without Myers, but the infrastructure is there for them to reconfigure. Maybe that means a Poole trade. Maybe that means something more drastic. Maybe that just means finding a way to cut salary and then adding better depth to get them closer to the 2022 team.
Guys like Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga, if they aren’t dealt, will continue to improve. We’ve seen flashes, and while their arc didn’t get them where Golden State needed them this year, they might get there next year.
The Warriors know the window is closing.
The Warriors know the two-timelines concept failed. They’ll pivot, reconfigure, and be back in the title picture.
As long as they have Curry and Green, they have a chance, and if they were to move on from Green, they’d likely get back enough of an impact player who can help them win. At 14-1, this is the best value on the board.
Pick: Warriors +1400 (PointsBet)
Take a Big Swing on Two Long Shots
Brandon Anderson: The Denver Nuggets are NBA champions, and they’re the right early favorite for next year. I already wrote about them before the NBA Finals. It’s not about Nikola Jokic but Jamal Murray. He looks like as good a second star as there is in the league now, and if you have the best No. 1 and No. 2, you’re the favorite. That’s just how this league works.
But there’s little value in betting one of the favorites right now. I don’t need my money tied up for 365 days, and the NBA season is a marathon, not a sprint. In the absence of a juggernaut like the Durant-era Warriors, all of these teams will have ups and downs and there will be better prices on all the most realistic 2024 champions.
If I’m going to play a future right now, I’m hoping to catch lightning in a bottle on a long number I might not be able to get later. I’ll make the case for two such long shots both at 130-1 at FanDuel, nearly double what they’re listed at by other books.
The Trail Blazers are a shot at finding next year’s Nuggets, in a sense, and a bet on Damian Lillard. He was as good as ever this season, a bona fide MVP candidate with zero supporting cast around him. He’s only played 87 games the past two years, but the Blazers had a top-three offense in the NBA for three consecutive years with Lillard before that.
Lillard is the sort of Jokic-like homegrown superstar who can contend with the rest of his peers if he gets the right teammates. Will he even be there next season? We’ll see, but he’s lobbying for stars to come to Portland, and the Blazers have the No. 3 pick to dangle. If the Blazers can get back near the top of the league offensively and be at least average on defense, they can be a top-three seed and look a lot like the Nuggets.
Oklahoma City is a shot at finding a long shot that could take a similar path as the Miami Heat. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a dominant two-way force, a la Jimmy Butler, and the Thunder will add stud Chet Holmgren to a team that stunningly finished in the top half of the league on both offense and defense this year. The Thunder also have the deepest war chest in the league. They’re built better than any team to take a huge swing on a superstar trade if one becomes available.
Add a second superstar to SGA plus Chet and a bunch of other young pieces, a strong defensive core, and a great young coach in Mark Daigneault and we’re cooking.
I’m not emptying the bankroll on these bets, but if we play both and even get one of them to the WCF at this long a number, we’ll have any number of ways to hedge out and profit. It’s long shot SZN.