NBA futures markets continue to be in constant flux with blockbuster signings and trades making headlines through the summer. Has the dust finally settled?
Let’s assume for now that it has. Here are the latest odds to win the 2020 NBA Championship from William Hill.
Favorites: Los Angeles Lakers 3/1, L.A. Clippers 7/2, Milwaukee 6/1, Houston 8/1, Philadelphia 9/1, Golden State 12/1, Utah and Denver each 15/1, Boston 25/1.
For the top contenders, are those fair odds? Using percentage equivalents, you can see that those nine favorites already gobble up more than 100% of win possibilities. For each team, dividing the number on the right of the slash by the sum of the two numbers, you get: Lakers 25%, Clippers 22%, Bucks 14%, Rockets 11%, Sixers 10%, Warriors 8%, Jazz 6%, Nuggets 6%, Celtics 4%.
That’s 106% before you get to any longer shots at 30/1 (3%), 50/1 (2%) or 100/1 (1%). Sportsbooks build a universe larger than 100% to create a house edge.
One of those favorites is extremely likely to win. At those prices, it would be tough to say any were a “great bet” for value.
Another way to look at returns is to imagine potential playoff matchups. A futures bet is essentially a “parlay” that asks your choice to win every playoff round. The ticket can’t cash unless your team wins the championship. What price would you make the Lakers in a head-to-head series against Houston? Or, the Clippers? Or, the eventual Eastern Conference representative (probably Milwaukee or Philadelphia).
If you see those battles as roughly pick-em, well, a three-team parlay at pick-em would pay 6-1. That’s not even counting any profit from an opening round bet. Would the Lakers be such heavy favorites individually over a Rockets/Clippers/Bucks gauntlet that the payoff would drop to 3/1?
You can’t even assume LeBron James and Anthony Davis will be at full health. By the time we get there, the Lakers might be series underdogs, with a rollover strategy (betting the team round-by-round and reinvesting the full return) earning something closer to 8/1.
VSiN strongly encourages bettors to use a “parlay calculator” to map out payout possibilities. You’ll understand why very few “picks” to win a championship are actually good “bets.”
Finishing out William Hill’s odds:
Longshots: Brooklyn 30/1, Portland 35/1, Toronto 40/1; Indiana 60/1, San Antonio 60/1, and Dallas each 60/1, Miami 75/1.
Brooklyn’s odds would improve if it becomes clear that Kevin Durant can return from injury in time to make a difference. (Recent reports you might have read stating the Nets were as low as 8/1 to win the title were alluding to an offshore outlier, not William Hill or any Las Vegas book).
No-shots: New Orleans 100/1; Orlando and Sacramento each 125/1, Atlanta 150/1, Chicago 200/1; New York, Detroit, Minnesota, Memphis, and Phoenix each 250/1; Washington and Oklahoma City each 300/1; Cleveland and Charlotte each 500/1.