NBA Win Total Odds & Picks: How to Bet Nuggets, Timberwolves and More Northwest Division Teams
David Berding/Getty Images. Pictured: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Actual NBA basketball is officially back and while teams are getting ramped up, the window to bet futures as the regular season approaches is shortening. But don’t worry, we’ve been breaking down every team, division and player on the Buckets podcast (you can listen here).
I already broke down my betting approach to teams in the Southwest and Southeast divisions, and now we’re moving to the Northwest. Here’s a look at how I am betting (or why I’m not betting) each team in the division.
You can pay the juice on a 50.5 or get more aggressive at 52.5. This is one of the most hyped teams entering the season; all the betting conversations are about their upside. That makes me nervous. But this team is loaded.
They have the two-time reigning MVP who almost never misses time with injury (knock on wood) and a returning Jamal Murray to provide a two-man game and take over offensively on nights they don’t have it.
They’re also returning a 6-foot-10 shooter with 50-40-90 potential in Michael Porter Jr. and have Aaron Gordon in a much more suitable role: be the fourth-best player on the floor, play defense, and fill in the gaps.
Add in an improved defensive cast with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown, high-upside young guys in Bones Hyland and Zeke Nnaji, and a coach in Michael Malone whose teams have gone over their win total in literally every season except the 2019-20 COVID-interrupted season.
Key Trend: The Nuggets have won 69% of their games vs. teams that finished the season under .500 under Michael Malone. Teams that win more than 68% of their games vs. teams under .500 have gone 65-29-1 to the over in the last 10 seasons.
Bottom Line: The numbers say that win totals over 50 should always start with an under bet. But there’s just nothing working against this team. I cannot find a data point to suggest an under. It’s a best bet, 5u max play on the over, and I’ve played alt lines and best record props as well.
For more on the Nuggets, including more reasons for the over and a very forced look at the value on the under, read the full write-up here.
The Blazers were the worst team in the league over the back half of the season, purposefully. That destroyed all their numbers and forced over-adjustments in the market.
You cannot put them close to the team they were the year prior when they made the playoffs. You also cannot put them close to the team they were to finish the season with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum out for basically the whole year due to injury or trade, in McCollum’s case, Norm Powell and Robert Covington were traded, and a team purposefully set to lose.
This number is basically in the middle of last season’s win total of 44.5 and their actual wins of 27 differential with a slight lean to the over. I think the weight should be closer to 44.5, so I like an over.
Key Trend: Teams with a Pythagorean expected wins differential from actual wins (so how many were they supposed to win minus how many they actually did) of 1.6 (70th percentile last 10 seasons) or more have gone 29-24-1 (53.7%) to the over.
That’s a lot of jargon; here’s the simplification: the market puts the number for a team closer to what they “should” have won than what they did, and that means an overreaction. Now, the Blazers were so blatant in their tank and so truly horrific that those numbers are a little exaggerated. But the result is the same.
Bottom Line: Damian Lillard is back and healthy. He and Jusuf Nurkic usually win a lot of games while giving up a lot of points. Anthony Simons is a scoring machine. Jerami Grant is a wing upgrade on both ends of the floor. Josh Hart, who was held out late-season, is underrated as a defender and spot-up weapon. The bench has promising pieces.
This won’t be a great team, but Dame’s good enough with a competent roster to get them to .500 or better. This is a three-unit play for me on the over.
For more on Portland, including whether their defense can be trusted enough to make a bet, read the full write-up here.
I can’t bet every good West team to go over and hit 50 wins. The Wolves have to integrate a lot of new pieces with questionable depth and high pressure. Karl-Anthony Towns was hospitalized with illness before the season.
But this team has so many weapons. Rudy Gobert is a one-man top-five defense if he’s healthy. KAT should not call himself the greatest big-man shooter of all time when Dirk Nowitzki exists, but he’s got the spot as No. 2. D’Angelo Russell will benefit most from Gobert on both ends, and Anthony Edwards is primed for a breakout.
Key Trend: Teams that have won between 45 and 50 games and then had a win total of 49.5 or more the following season are 10-4-1 to the under in the past 10 seasons.
Bottom Line: If this were a little lower, I’d be all in, but it can’t be with Gobert. If it were above 50, I’d be looking at an under, but it can’t be because of the West’s strength. If you’re not sold on Denver, play the Wolves for the division, or take the seeding under 5.5 (+100) at DraftKings.
For more on the Wolves, including how I think the Gobert addition works out, read the full write-up here.
NOPE, NOPE, NOPE. Too much talent and too good of coaching, too much intent to position for the draft. They’re too good for an over, too bad for over, and the number is in what I would call a DMZ of win totals, right between 23 and 24.
For more on OKC and why they are way better in potential (but maybe not actuality) than you think, read the full write-up here.
For more on the Jazz and why it’s going to be hard for them to tank with this trade market, read the full write-up here.