The last time we spoke about NBA Futures, we were talking about the NBA MVP race. It was February 12th and we told you Nikola Jokic (+450) was the best bet on the board. The last time we talked NBA Playoff Futures, it was 2020 and we told you the Heat were the best Darkhorse bet in the East, and the Lakers were the best bet to win it all.
I’d say we’ve had a very good run over the past year. This season, the playoffs are here and we need to lay out what you should be looking at with your futures picks.
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With that, we will be laying out the cases for a number of Futures Picks for this playoffs and giving you a verdict for each on the odds.
The odds mentioned in this article comes from the DraftKings Online Sportsbook.
Brooklyn Nets to win the NBA Championship +250
This team has only played 15 games with Durant, Harden, and Irving playing together. Still, they managed to snag the second seed and have positioned themselves to make a playoff run with a healthy star trio.
None of us have truly seen this team at full strength, because that would require team chemistry they simply don’t have at this point. Still, the talent alone is terrifying, and the bench is surprisingly effective. The Nets have plenty of older guys who are past their prime but also have guys like Bruce Brown, who can put together impressive hot streaks.
Even with an injury to one of the big three guys in Brooklyn, this team is still talented enough to overcome. Their biggest threat will be the Sixers, who do pose some problems for the Nets, but the Nets are just going to focus defensively on Embiid and give Ben Simmons all kinds of space outside the paint.
People seem concerned about how the Sixers can present too many issues for the Nets, but no one is talking about what issues the Sixers would have getting points in a series against the Nets.
If they make it out of the East, I think the Nets should be a horrifying matchup for both the Lakers and the Clippers. Even with Lebron and Anthony Davis there, the Lakers would be leaving Caruso or Schroder on Kyrie and Harden.
This bet looks very promising, but it likely is more profitable to just bet the Nets on a series-to-series basis. That way, if they lose a star along the way, you can get out with only minimal losses. Realistically, we can’t plan for injuries, so the nets look very formidable at this point and will only get better as their chemistry continues to develop.
Verdict: Moderately Risky Bet
Los Angeles Lakers to win the NBA Championship +450
There is plenty to be nervous about with this bet, but I’m not especially concerned. The Lakers have tumbled from +300 odds to +450 over the past few weeks. What has changed? Sure, Lebron and AD haven’t appeared quite as dominant since returning from their injuries, but did you see the fourth quarter of the play-in game?
The Lakers, with the exception of Caruso, were completely stagnant through the first half, closed the gap in the third, and Lebron and AD took over in the fourth. I think the Lakers are milking the injury narrative a little more than we realize. Lebron and AD may be pacing themselves and taking it relatively easy, but it’s clear now they can play great defense the entire game and turn it on for the final quarter push.
So again, what’s changed since the odds were +300? The answer is, not much. This team is still among the best (if not the best) defensive teams in the league this season. Offensively, the Lakers can get to the rim when necessary. The biggest question is their outside shooting, which has hindered them for stretches this season.
I still like the Lakers to win the West and face the Nets in the final. Even if it’s the 76ers they face in the final, I feel like the Lakers should match up pretty well in the series.
The smart play here is to just take both the Lakers and the Nets at their odds, so if the Lakers win, you’ll net a +350 return. If the Nets win, you’ll still net a +150 return.
Verdict: Relatively Safe Bet. Moderate risk due to re-injury possibilities
Los Angeles Clippers to win the NBA Championship +500
The Clippers had a lot of momentum heading into the 2019-2020 season. Many sportsbooks had the Clippers as the favorite or second favorite to win the title throughout the season. When it came playoff time, the Clippers couldn’t get any wind to their sails and the Nuggets took them down, easily.
I don’t know if the “Playoff P” nickname is a joke or actually a serious nickname, but this man does not show up in the playoffs, ever. I’m naturally worried a bit for them this season as well.
The Clippers lost Harrell to Free Agency and Lou Williams hasn’t looked like the same Sixth Man of the Year now for quite some time. Kawhi Leonard is probably saving himself for the playoffs, as his performance was largely uninspiring this season. With all the disparaging talk, it should be noted the Clippers have Rajon Rondo this year.
Every postseason, Rondo seems to still put on stellar performances. Last season, the Clippers matched up very well against the Lakers. This year, the Lakers have an improved roster, while the Clippers have done little in the regular season to prove they’re legitimately a threat. Maybe we’ll see a more inspiring effort from the Clippers this time around, but I don’t want to be the one holding a Clippers ticket when this is all over with.
Verdict: Highly Risky Bet for every round. Not worth the odds
Philadelphia 76ers to win the NBA Championship +700
I’ve had my doubts with the Sixers in regards to team chemistry and maximizing effectiveness with Simmons and Embiid sharing the court. However, the Sixers have proved it is possible to get high level production from both, without it looking like a particularly attractive brand of basketball. The answer has simply been for Embiid to takeover.
All this time, the Sixers have tinkered with various ways for both players to be offensively fluid and effective, and the best solution has been for Simmons to only take high percentage shots around the basket and leave the outside scoring to Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid.
It seems accepting the limitations of Simmons as a scorer has been the best medicine for this squad, as they sit in the top seed in the East, with favorable matchups in both the opening round and second round. The real question will be the Eastern Conference Finals. In all likelihood, the Sixers should face either the Bucks or Nets, though we can’t rule out the Heat getting hot at the perfect time again.
In both those potential matchups, the Sixers have somewhat favorable matchups on both sides. The real issue I can see looming is what teams will do with Ben Simmons in the ECF. Will they slack off him and encourage him to take deeper, open shots?
If the Sixers can maintain their defensive integrity and intensity, they’ll have plenty of offensive leeway to adjust to opposing defenses along the way. I think the Sixers should make the conference finals without much issue, but past that, it’s questionable. For the money, it’s a decent bet if you’re a believer.
Verdict: Decent Bet. Great upside for the odds.
Denver Nuggets -103 Series Victory vs Portland Trail Blazers
I understand the Nuggets lost Jamal Murray to an ACL injury and the Blazers get Nurkic back for the playoffs, but I’m not quite sold on the Blazers. This line is a little confusing until you do the minimal research to find out why.
With that, I haven’t been overly impressed with the Blazers of late, and Michael Porter Jr is not getting the respect in this matchup that he should. Porter has really blossomed this season, particularly after the loss of Murray, and the play of Nikola Jokic has been almost impossible for opposing teams to stop this season.
There are also some subplots I really like with this series in Denver’s favor. Facundo Campazzo is a relentless pest (in the best way possible). This man should annoy Damien Lillard more than anyone expects possible.
Sure, he won’t stop Lillard, nor will he be assigned to him for a large duration of the game. Still, Campazzo is the kind of pest on the floor who can unsettle some of the most unflappable players in the NBA. I think this series should go close to the distance, but feel like Jokic and Porter Jr. are going to be too much for the Blazers to handle in a series. I’m also not sure Nurkic is 100%.