NBA Roundtable: Favorite Win Totals, MVP Bets, Coach of the Year Race, and More

NBA Roundtable: Favorite Win Totals, MVP Bets, Coach of the Year Race, and More

This article is part of our NBA Roundtable series.

Welcome to another edition of the RotoWire NBA Roundtable! This week, our panel of basketball experts tackles six questions pertaining to 2021-22 NBA futures bets.

All odds via the DraftKings Sportsbook

Unsurprisingly, the Nets (+220) and Lakers (+380) sit atop the NBA title odds. Which side would you take to win the title: The Nets or Lakers OR The Field?

Alex Barutha: The Nets/Lakers. Health remains the primary concern for Brooklyn, but it may be the only real concern. Their Big 3 is arguably the most offensive talent ever assembled, at least in terms of players who can create their own shot. I think the Lakers' depth has the potential to be better, but that matters less as the playoffs run their course.

James Anderson: I'd take Nets/Lakers over The Field. I'd probably take just the Nets over The Field, and I'd certainly take Nets/Bucks over The Field, as well.

Nick Whalen: If we get even a relatively normal season, then the Lakers/Nets side is the right pick. When healthy, the Nets are head-and-shoulders above the rest of the East, and I'd even put them on another plane ahead of the Lakers. I didn't love everything about the Lakers' offseason, but there isn't another superteam in the West that can truly challenge a healthy LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Gabe Allen: I'd favor the Nets or Lakers over the rest of The Field. Though there are several legitimate contenders in both conferences, teams employing LeBron James or Kevin Durant have a proven track record when it comes to winning championships.

Jeff Edgerton: I'd be perfectly fine with taking just the Nets here. I'm not sold on what the Lakers are cooking, and for my money, there's no better player out there who can transform a team like Kevin Durant. Add in Harden and Irving, and you're looking at the Eastern Conference champs if they can string 20 healthy games together.

Ken Crites: The Field. The Suns just gained valuable playoff experience. The Championship Bucks will have a ton of confidence. And a potential Warriors with Ben Simmons roster could be lethal. Plus, chances seem high for a late-season LeBron or Anthony Davis injury.

Jacob Lebowitz: I've got to go with The Field. While the Nets and Lakers clearly are the two best teams in the league, injuries killed both of their seasons last year. The Lakers roster currently has one of the oldest age averages in the history of the NBA and the Nets have a very fragile big three. Even if Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving are all healthy, I can still see a team like the Bucks knocking off the Nets. As for the Western Conference, teams like the Suns, Nuggets, Warriors and Jazz have all gotten significantly better since the Lakers won the championship in 2020. I can see any one of those teams taking the Lakers to seven games and possibly even winning a series. 

Which team is your favorite value bet to win either the Eastern or Western Conference?

Alex Barutha: I can understand being interested in the Warriors (+450), Suns (+600) or Jazz (+700) given the odds, but I would rather be holding the Lakers (+180) ticket. They have the most top-end talent in the conference, and they have enough depth to weather the storm if LeBron, AD or Westbrook miss any meaningful time.

James Anderson: I like the Mavericks at +1300. Any of the Lakers, Warriors, Suns, Jazz or Mavericks have a shot to go to the Finals, but I don't think any of those teams beat a healthy Nets or a healthy Bucks.

Nick Whalen: In the East, the line that stands out is Miami at +1000. Like Milwaukee last season, the Heat would need some help to win the conference, but it's not out of the question. In the West, I'd consider the Clippers at +1100. They'll be a middling regular-season team, but if Kawhi Leonard is back and at full strength for the playoffs, they'll be in the mix.

Gabe Allen: I'm torn between Denver and Miami (both +1000). If Jamal Murray comes back strong the Nuggets will obviously be scary. And the Heat have the talent and toughness to compete with the top teams.

Jeff Edgerton: Tough call, but I would have to go with the Nuggets (+1000). I wanted to reach for the Bulls (+3500) in the East but that's quite a stretch. The Nuggets will get Jamal Murray back to 100 percent, and of course, Nikola Jokic is an elite threat. You can't count any team out when they have so much talent on their roster.

Ken Crites: The Celtics at +1900 is awfully tempting. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are still improving. Dennis Schroder and Al Horford are sneaky additions. And I believe new coach Ime Udoka will be an improvement over a worn-out Brad Stevens. 

Jacob Lebowitz: My favorite bet to win the East is easily the Celtics. At +1900, you're getting a bargain. With a much better supporting cast around their young duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics are poised for a trip to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals as they did in 2020.

What is your favorite regular season team win total bet?

Alex Barutha: Thunder UNDER 23.5 wins (-120). As much as I like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, he cannot save this team. OKC has constructed one of the bleakest rosters I've ever seen. Lu Dort or Darius Bazley might end up second on this team in shot attempts, and they both shot under 40% from the field last year.

James Anderson: Pelicans UNDER 39.5 wins for the reasons I detailed here.

Nick Whalen: The Pelicans UNDER 39.5 wins seems like such a layup that it's making me second-guess my take. I disliked virtually everything New Orleans did this offseason, and while a major leap from Zion Williamson might be enough to cancel it out, I don't see how this team improves after swapping out Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe for Devonte' Graham and Tomas Satoransky.

Gabe Allen: Right now I'm really liking Minnesota UNDER 34.5. The Western Conference should be super competitive as usual, and I'm not sure Minnesota significantly improved its roster this offseason. If the Timberwolves could land Ben Simmons to pair with Karl-Anthony Towns this would probably turn into a bad bet overnight, but as of now the under is awfully enticing.

Jeff Edgerton: I'm going to take the Warriors and the OVER at 48.5. Klay Thompson rejoins Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and a healthy James Wiseman to make some noise in the West. The Warriors won't get Klay Thompson back until Christmas, but once he's up to speed, they can get hot and make a big charge after the All-Star break.

Ken Crites: I like the OVER on the Wizards to win 33.5 games. For the first time in maybe a decade, this team has real depth. A record of 34-48 is well within their reach. Daniel Gafford could be on the cusp of a breakout season, and Thomas Bryant should be back early in the season. I have high expectations for new head coach Wes Unseld Jr.

Jacob Lebowitz: I love the Nuggets OVER 47.5 wins. Last season, they finished at 47-25 with their star Jamal Murray out a big chunk of the season. Keep in mind, they will also have an additional 10 more games to play in next season and their core of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. is only getting better. If the Nuggets are able to avoid a slow start without Murray, they should be able to push for 50 wins. Over the last four seasons, Denver has an average win percentage of 62.5% (roughly 51 wins).

For the second straight season, Luka Doncic opens as the MVP favorite (currently 4/1). Among the favorites, who is your best bet? And who is your favorite long shot MVP bet?

Alex Barutha: Among the favorites, I think picking Jokic to repeat (+1500) is the best value. After Jamal Murray went down last season, Jokic averaged 28.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 6.2 assists while shooting 54/33/88 (regular season and playoffs) in just 32.8 minutes per game. He'll be in a spot to replicate those numbers this season while Murray is sidelined for at least half the year. For the long shots, I like Paul George (+2500). He averaged 29.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.4 steals after Kawhi Leonard went down in the playoffs. He'll need to continue being the clear focal point of the offense while Leonard presumably misses the whole year. I'll also say that LaMelo Ball at 150-to-1...who knows?

James Anderson: Kevin Durant 7/1 is my favorite bet. I also like Curry and Giannis at 8/1. I wouldn't touch any of the long shots. 

Nick Whalen: Durant at 7/1 is pretty decent value for a player who will have a great shot to win it if he plays enough games. I'm not sure I'd bet it, but Jokic at 15/1 (down from 25/1) is also solid value. As far as long shots, I'd consider Anthony Davis (25/1) and could maybe be talked into a Donovan Mitchell argument.

Gabe Allen: The future is murky in Philadelphia but Joel Embiid (+700) gets the nod based on his superb two-way play, and the fact that he'll probably have to post video game numbers in order to keep the 76ers in contention this season. As far as long shots go, I'm sailing away on the old ship of Zion (+4000).

Jeff Edgerton: As previously stated, I am high on Durant (+700), and the obvious dark horse in this field is Anthony Davis (+2500)

Ken Crites: Of the favorites, I'm all in on Kevin Durant at +700. He's finally healthy, and as we saw at the Olympics, he's the best of the best. Of the dark horses, I lean toward Anthony Davis at +2500. I can envision a regular-season scenario in which LeBron James gets hurt, but Davis and Russell Westbrook lead the Lakers to a Top 3 finish in the West. Of course, it could also be Davis who gets hurt.

Jacob Lebowitz: My favorite bet is Trae Young (+1800). The Hawks kept their main core of players and they're returning all their starters. If Young can lead the league in assists and boost his scoring average, he'll force his way into the conversation. My dark horse candidate for MVP is Zion Williamson. He's in a situation in New Orleans where he has the keys to the franchise and should be in line for boosts in points, rebounds and assists. If the Pelicans compete for the playoffs and he can become a consistent triple-double threat, he'll be in the running.

Between the scoring, rebounds and assists Leader odds, what are one or two of your favorite bets?

Alex Barutha: Nikola Jokic for the scoring title (+10000). I outlined in my previous response that Jokic averaged nearly 30 PPG after Murray went down with a torn ACL. He's probably too unselfish to actually win the scoring title, but it's certainly within the realm of possibility, and 100-to-1 odds are just ridiculous given the context. More realistically, Paul George (+3000) should also be considered with Leonard set to miss likely the whole season.

James Anderson: Giannis at +1000 for scoring and Trae Young at +400 for assists.

Nick Whalen: I like both Zion Williamson and Giannis Antetokounmpo at 10/1 to win the scoring title. Paul George (30/1) is a dark horse to watch in that race, as well. 

Gabe Allen: Rinse and repeat with Embiid (+750) to lead the league in points per game. Or for those looking for more favorable odds: LaMelo Ball (+2800) to lead the league in assists per game.

Jeff Edgerton: I think a full season from Karl-Anthony Towns (+1300) could be the best bet here. I also really like Trae Young (+400) to take the assist title, but I'd have to wait and see how Russell Westbrook (+200) is used before making that call

Ken Crites: I like Nikola Vucevic to lead the league in rebounds (+1200) now that Thad Young is in San Antonio. An undersized Patrick Williams at power forward seems inadequate for the Bulls – plus DeRozan and LaVine will jack up plenty of shots, forcing Vucevic to hit the boards if he wants scoring numbers.

Jacob Lebowitz: I'm taking Trae Young to lead the league in assists. Young has increased his assists per game each year in his career and this past season he finished with the third-highest average (9.4 APG). With the Hawks' young core staying put in Atlanta, Young will have many opportunities to dish out assists as his chemistry with the team will only improve.

The Coach of the Year odds project a tight race, with 14 coaches listed at 20/1 or lower. Make the case for which coach is the best bet right now.

Alex Barutha: I like Rick Carlisle at +2000. The Pacers made few offseason roster moves – which can help in a Coach of the Year argument – and were arguably the worst-coached team in the league last season, plus they dealt with health issues. I think a better coach can come in and make the team play up to its potential, which might be the No. 4 or No. 5 seed in the East.

James Anderson: I like Ime Udoka at 15/1. He seems to be one of the most respected young coaches out there and the Celtics seem poised to win ~5 more games than expected after losing ~5 more games than expected last year.

Nick Whalen: Starting at the top, the case for Steve Nash (+850) is a relatively simple one: if the Nets stay healthy and win, like, 71 games, then he'll almost certainly get it by default. For more value, I would look into Michael Malone (14/1), Tyronn Lue (19/1) and, especially, Rick Carlisle (20/1). If the Pacers make even a semi-impressive leap toward the upper-middle tier of the Eastern Conference, the narrative will write itself.

Gabe Allen: I'm very high on the Heat so I'll go with Erik Spoelstra (+950). I think Miami will win 50+ games and lock up a top-three seed in the East.

Jeff Edgerton: Billy Donovan (+1000) takes the Bulls to the playoffs, or Wes Unseld Jr. (+4500) leads a group of Lakers cast-offs to a .500 record.

Ken Crites: Udoka in Boston at +1500 is ripe for the taking. Brad Stevens may go down as a better GM than coach. Stevens has stocked the cupboard for Udoka, who comes from the Popovich coaching tree and has a working knowledge of both the Nets and Sixers.

Jacob Lebowitz: Billy Donovan at +1000. With Chicago pulling in plenty of assets this summer, including DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball, Donovan will be able to lift the Bulls to a top-five seed in the East. In the 2019-20 season, Donovan was able to coach a team with a random assortment of players in the middle of a rebuild. That Thunder team that Donovan coached managed to get the five seed in a difficult Western Conference. Don't be surprised if Donovan is able to make a deep run with the Bulls in the playoffs.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Whalen
RotoWire's NBA Editor and host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Nick was awarded the FSWA Best Podcast -- All Sports award in 2017 and 2018. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.
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