The 4 Best NBA Championship Value Bets for 2019-20
The NBA landscape is not what it was just a few months ago. With the Golden State Warriors' dynasty taking on a new look and massive personnel changes around the league, it's anyone's title.
I mean, that's not totally true. The Cleveland Cavaliers aren't going to win the NBA Finals, but according to numberFire's projections, five teams have at least a 9.7% chance to win the title this year, and nine teams win the Larry O'Brien trophy in at least 3.7% of the simulated seasons. No team's win equity is higher than 21.0%, so yeah, it's pretty open relative to last season, when the Warriors had a 40.0% chance to win all by themselves.
Which teams offer the best betting value on FanDuel Sportsbook?
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are no longer the best team in LA, but it's close. According to our nERD metric, which indicates expected winning percentage over a full season, the Los Angeles Lakers (73.7) rank second behind the Los Angeles Clippers (74.9). However, the discrepancy comes in the betting odds. The Clippers are +330 to win the Finals, but the Lakers are +440.
It's an easy case to make: the Lakers have LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way. If backing a favorite, the algorithm suggests it should be the purple and gold out in Los Angeles and not the Clippers.
The Utah Jazz typically grade out as an efficient team, and they're projected to rank fourth in nERD (64.9). Already led by Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, Utah added Mike Conley to run point. The Jazz can be found at +1700 on FanDuel Sportsbook, which our algorithm thinks they outperform, pegging them as 6.1% likely to win the NBA Finals.
The Eastern Conference is pretty wide open outside of the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers, who each have a 10.9% chance to win the Finals on their own. Only one other team from the East is above 1.7% (the Boston Celtics at 3.7%). Philly enters ranking 7th in nERD after earning the 3 seed last year and losing in 7 games in the semis to the eventual champions, the Toronto Raptors.
The Houston Rockets' title odds are 9.7%, but I personally disagree with our very smart algorithm and think that number should be a bit higher. Russell Westbrook is generally an inefficient producer in terms of nERD, and that hurts the team's overall projection in our simulations, but the rest of the roster is one of my favorite in basketball. Even when looking just at the algorithm -- the point of the piece -- the Rockets are priced appropriately enough at +850 that they're enticing on FanDuel Sportsbook. If seeking some value without punting on a longshot -- not a great strategy for an NBA Finals bet -- Houston is my preference this season after posting a 10.7 net rating after the All-Star break in 2018-19.