NBA betting roundtable: Our best bets for NBA champion, MVP and more

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The NBA is back. And back to a normal season. 

The season gets going on Oct. 19, with two marquee matchups: Brooklyn at Milwaukee and Golden State at the Lakers. And this time the NBA is back to 82 games. Thankfully. 

There's still time to get in some future bets on the season. Yahoo Sportsbook writers Frank Schwab, Nick Bromberg, Greg Brainos and Sam Cooper give us their best bets, with all the odds from BetMGM

Who’s your best bet for NBA champion?

FS: In terms of value, Bucks +900 stands out. I just don’t know how the Nets will manage the Kyrie Irving situation, and +240 is steep anyway. The Heat at +2500 and the Jazz at +1600 are intriguing too, even though it's rare to see a long shot win an NBA title. But the pressure is off the Bucks and aside from frontcourt depth (if Brook Lopez declines, it could get bad), there’s no real flaw on the roster.

Can Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks repeat? (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Can Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks repeat? (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

NB: If I had to make a pick for NBA Finals winner I would go with either the Nets or the Bucks. I think the Bucks are undervalued too — it’s not often you can get the defending champion at those odds after the team didn’t suffer any significant losses. The best value play in my eyes are the Nuggets at +2200 if you’re confident Jamal Murray can be back for the playoffs. Denver can be a top-five team in the West without him and I think the Nuggets can be the best team in the West with him.

GB: I agree with Frank on the value for the Jazz and Heat. The problem with Utah is their history of choking in the playoffs, but that’s already baked into the +1600. Miami at +2500 is a screaming value. Remember how they locked Giannis down in the playoffs a couple seasons ago? This team has an even better defense and is basically built to get revenge on the Bucks. Kyle Lowry is a considerable upgrade over Goran Dragic and if they get anything at all out of Victor Oladipo, they could roll to the Finals. The organization is all in on the Heat winning a championship and I’m riding with them.

SC: Does Chris Paul have one more run in him? With Paul back in the fold and that young nucleus around him, the Suns at +1500 is very intriguing. Adding a quality backup big like JaVale McGee and even more bench shooting with Landry Shamet makes the Suns a really deep team. I’m also surprised the Hawks are listed at +3500. With the dysfunction elsewhere in the East, particularly with the Nets and Sixers, Trae Young and the Hawks are certainly worth a flier.

What about the best bet for NBA MVP?

FS: With Kyrie Irving’s situation in the air (to say the least), that could mean more for the Nets’ other two stars. Kevin Durant (+700) will be a popular pick, but I’d rather go for James Harden at +2000. It’s not like he won’t put up MVP numbers on a very good team. Harden was +2500 earlier this week, so the line is already moving. 

NB: The Clippers have the sixth-best odds to win the NBA Finals yet are going to be without Kawhi Leonard for most or all of the season. His absence is a reason why LA’s over/under is just 45.5 in the regular season and why I think Paul George is fantastic value at +4000. George realized how he could carry the Clippers after Leonard’s injury in the playoffs earlier this spring and will be the focal point of the offense until he comes back.

GB: We’re going back to Valuetown and grabbing Bradley Beal at +6600. I get that he isn’t exactly a household name, but it’s kind of crazy that the odds-on favorite to win the scoring title has MVP odds this long. People are sleeping on the Wizards this year. They have a solid squad with a deep bench and when they make it into the playoffs, perception will be that Beal carried them there. It’ll be partially true, but he’ll get all the credit for it. Other values I like are Donovan Mitchell (+3000) and Anthony Davis (+2500).

SC: Though I’m inclined to be a Philly homer and say Joel Embiid at +700, I agree with both Frank and Nick about the value of James Harden and Paul George at +2000 and +4000, respectively. Nikola Jokic won it last year and with Jamal Murray out for a while, the chance to grab him at +1600 is worth a look as well.

Any other awards bets that stand out?

FS: I believe Evan Mobley will be the best player from this draft class. The question is whether he’ll hit right away. I’ll take a shot on him at +800. It’s not like the Cleveland Cavaliers have any reason to not play him a ton right away.

NB: Scottie Barnes at +800 for rookie of the year feels like great value. The Raptors are going to make a run at the playoffs, and Barnes will be a significant rotation piece right away. Rookies don’t typically impact winning games in the NBA, and while Barnes may have lesser stat lines than some other rookies on terrible teams, he could turn out to be a more impactful player in 2021-22 than every other player in his draft class.

Jaren Jackson Jr. at +1600 for most improved player also seems like a decent value. If Memphis is going to make a run at the No. 6 seed, he’ll be a big reason why.

GB: Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green are going to get a ton of playing time and are the obvious front-runners for rookie of the year, but let me throw a long shot at you: Bones Hyland. He’s been tearing it up for Denver in the preseason and the competition ahead of him isn’t that fierce with Jamal Murray out. I see shades of Ja Morant in him and that makes +4000 too juicy of a price to pass up.

To win the sixth man of the year award these days, you basically have to be a shooting guard who averages around 18-22 points. Fifteen of the last 17 winners have played the two spot. I love Tyler Herro at +2000. He’s a dynamic scorer who’s going to get a lot of minutes on a contending team.

SC: Depending on how the Ben Simmons situation shakes out, Matisse Thybulle could be in for a significant uptick in minutes in Philadelphia and have a real shot at defensive player of the year. Thybulle earned second-team all-defense honors last year while playing only 20 minutes per game. Though it can get him in trouble with fouls at times, Thybulle just has an uncanny feel for getting steals, blocks and deflections. And if Simmons is traded, he will be tasked with guarding the other team’s best player more often. He could be worth a shot at +2000, though Draymond Green and Jrue Holiday — also listed at +2000 — have good value too.

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