The seven NBA bets that will save your 2019 gambling year
Today's not just any Tuesday. It's perhaps the most important Tuesday of the year. It's the Tuesday that turns around the very idea of Tuesdays, from "bah humbug" to Friday 2.0.
It's the start of the NBA basketball season, which coincides perfectly with the start of you getting your life on track. Do the laundry you're behind on, maybe make dinner instead of ordering out and follow these NBA gambling tips, because it's time to become the best you. Forget about when you doubled down on the New York Yankees sneaking into the World Series or all of that hope (and cash) you gave to the Cleveland Browns.
Because it's a joyous day, the start of entertaining basketball and whatever the Washington Wizards are doing, and we've decided to just hand you free money. Not literally, because we've never met most of you, but with these longterm projections and some of our favorite prop bets, you'll be Scrooge McDuck hugging your doubloons in no time.
Let's start with the biggest award.
1. Joel Embiid to win MVP +1200
This is the year of the 76ers. At least for the regular season. In a reduced Eastern Conference that has seen the returning champion lose its best player to greener pastures—Kawhi to LA—there's no dominant force that can match up with Philly. The Bucks, last year's only 60-win team, let critical role player Malcolm Brogdon walk. The squad added Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, and Kyle Korver, but those are more fringe moves than anything else.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, drastically changed their roster despite being a few bounces away from the Conference Finals. It's a risk, but I do think they've upgraded in a seismic way with Al Horford and Josh Richardson. Embiid is the big beneficiary of all of this. He won't have Jimmy Butler hogging the ball in critical possessions and the addition of another great defensive big will allow Embiid to expend more energy with the ball in the post. As long as he stays healthy, I see the Sixers leading the charge in the East and possibly finishing the season with the most wins. Embiid will be the center of that, along with the constant praying that Ben Simmons can hit one three.
Longshot: Damian Lillard to win MVP +2800
Remember when Lillard ended the Oklahoma City Thunder? It happened early in the playoffs but was still a monumental play changing the course of the NBA. Paul George and Russell Westbrook are now on the Clippers and Rockets respectively while Chris Paul is stuck in NBA basketball purgatory all off because of Lillard's 30-footer.
Lillard has been consistently superb for the Blazers since his arrival and he will have the ball in his hands constantly. With Jusuf Nurkic's injury, Lillard will have even more responsibility than ever before. If he's able to continue on his climb from last year, he should be in the MVP discussion. It's worth a shot.
2. Rudy Gobert to win DPOY +145
Yes, he's the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year, but he's the favorite for a reason. He's going to win. The Jazz are built to irritate every single opponent this year on the defensive side of the ball, and Gobert will be a huge part of that. Gobert has won the last two years and there's a good chance that this Utah team will be definitively better than previous seasons with Mike Conley's addition.
Longshot: Jrue Holiday to win DPOY +2500
With Anthony Davis gone and Zion Williamson already injured for at least six weeks, Holiday will have the spotlight on him once again. One of the best wing defenders in the league, Holiday may have been underrated since the bulk of the attention has always seemed to be on one of his superstar teammates. If the Pelicans are able to do what some prognosticators predict, making the playoffs with a young, unproven squad, it will surely be due to Holiday and his defensive prowess.
3. Doc Rivers to win COY +300
The general consensus on Doc Rivers has been wishy-washy, to say the least, since his Celtics days. But, it's clear that he's at his best barking instructions when his team is chockful of superstars. His Celtics championship is the quintessential example of a locked-in Rivers team and this Clippers roster has the depth and all-stars at the top that Boston had back in the late 2000s.
His team's performance in last year's playoffs was impressive, especially considering the depleted cast and opposition in Golden State. Taking two games off of a Curry-KD team is no easy feat. Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams are nice and all, but they're not Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Bold claim there. I see the Clippers atop the west at the end of the season and for coach of the year, it's usually that easy.
Longshot: Steve Kerr +3000
The 2015-16 Coach of the Year, this should be the toughest challenge that Kerr has had to face so far. He has Steph Curry and Draymond Green, sure, but Klay Thompson is likely out for the year, KD and Shaun Livingston are off the roster and the team is jam-packed with young, unproven players.
Kerr is one of the more-respected leaders in the NBA and I can see a scenario where this Warriors team, as a fourth or fifth seed, surpasses expectations due to a Curry MVP season and a greater sense of freedom since Durant is no longer holding everyone hostage.
4. Ja Morant to win ROY +350
I know Zion is the consensus, but his injury history and playing style terrify me. It doesn't seem sustainable. He's less of a Greg Oden comparison than a Blake Griffin one—a potentially great player that sometimes is too athletic for his own good. Griffin's had plenty of great years, but he has been plagued by injuries from the get-go. Morant is the definitively safer bet. He'll put up great stats on a bad team, which is ultimately the arbiter for this award. Remember when Michael Carter Williams won and immediately got traded? This award isn't always for the best player and I see that coming back into play here.
Longshot: Coby White to win ROY +1800
The Bulls may actually not be terrible this year and I see White getting a majority of touches at the PG position by season's end. He's an explosive player that will have his moments on highlight factories from SportsCenter to House of Highlights and the Bulls could be frisky enough for a playoff spot that he'll still be critical down the stretch. The hair is fantastic too.
Just fantastic hair.
Three Prop Bets We Need to Tell You About Before You Go
5. RJ Barrett to Average Over 14.5 Points Per Game -120
The Knicks are going to be atrocious. Their free agency was a disaster and they signed a bunch of eighth men instead of using their money in a wise manner. RJ Barrett will look even better than he should, playing with these scrubs. The Knicks mortgaged their future trying to get KD or Kyrie and ended up with RJ. He'll be getting a lot of reps early and often.
6. Steph Curry to Win the Scoring Title +300
As I mentioned before, the Warriors consist of a whole new cast of characters from last year with a drastic defensive drop. Golden State will be getting into shootouts time and time again and Curry will no longer be able to sit fourth quarters in blowouts. The team will be worse, but Curry may be putting up gaudy stats as he did in his MVP days.
7. Charlotte Hornets UNDER 23.5 Wins -120
Their starting lineup is Terry Rozier (already banged up), Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges, PJ Washington, and Cody Zeller. If they win 20 games, that's a monumental victory.