NBA Division Winner Betting: Our Algorithm's Best Bet to Win Each NBA Division in 2022-23
There are a lot of ways to bet the NBA season before it starts.
That's what we're focusing in on here: who are the NBA betting opportunities in each division based on thousands of season simulations, according to numberFire's data?
Boston Celtics to Win the Atlantic Division (+140)
The season simulations give them a 49.3% chance to clinch the Atlantic for a second consecutive season (suggesting odds of around +105).
My model, which leverages preseason win totals to generate point differential and accounts for home-court advantage, pegs the Celtics as having 47 "easy" wins (i.e. games in which they should be favored to win 60.0% or more of the time); the Brooklyn Nets (+220 to win the division) are second in the division at 44, and the Philadelphia 76ers (+260) have just 38.
Milwaukee Bucks to Win the Central Division (-260)
There's just no way around this one. The Milwaukee Bucks are, rightfully, heavy favorites to win the Central for a fifth consecutive season.
Our model is giving them a 72.1% chance to do so, making this a fair bet -- at least a lot fairer than betting on an upset in the Central Division. The Bucks should be favored in 64 of their games and have 45 "easy" wins.
The Cleveland Cavaliers (+350) could push them: they are favorites in 58 games but have just 32 "easy" wins. They'll need everything to go right and for the Bucks to dampen their interest in regular-season dominance in order to win the division.
Minnesota Timberwolves to Win the Northwest Division (+155)
Naturally, it's the Denver Nuggets (-160 to win the division) favored in the Northwest (45.1% in the simulations), but that's not enough value to back them.
Our algorithm believes in the Minnesota Timberwolves enough to make this plus-money opportunity one to consider. They should be favored in just four fewer games (60) than the Nuggets (64), though they do have some lopsided matchups as underdogs (11 games with an expected preseason win probability under 40.0%).
That being said, this is a two-team race, and if you want to find some plus-money odds that are intriguing, consider the rebuilt Timberwolves for the Northwest crown.
Los Angeles Clippers to Win the Pacific Division (+195)
Our preseason nERD ratings really like the Los Angeles Clippers. Their nERD (or, expected winning percentage) of 66.0 is just a tenth of a point behind the Pacific Division favorites, the Golden State Warriors (66.1).
Adding John Wall to the mix could lead to some transition time and a few more early-season losses than we'd like, but the Warriors have some team chemistry to work on, too.
The sheer number of easy wins in the division -- 46 for the Clippers, 45 for the Warriors, and 45 for the Phoenix Suns -- puts this race incredibly close.
That's reflected in the division win odds with Golden State at +190, the Clippers at +195, and the Suns at +200. But it's ultimately the Clippers that the sims like most, once accounting for schedule.
Miami Heat to Win the Southeast Division (-150)
The simulations put Miami's division crown odds at 60.0%, exactly where we should expect them at -150 odds.
They have a huge gap in easy wins (36 to Atlanta's 29) and games as a favorite (60 to 51) while also showing fewer games as legitimate underdogs (7 to 16).
It's hard to bet against the Heat to repeat and go back-to-back in the division for the first time since 2012-13 and 2013-14.
Dallas Mavericks to Win the Southwest Division (+145)
A lot of the value on the Southwest comes down to how you feel about the New Orleans Pelicans (+350). If you think they make this a three-team race, then it'll be harder to love the Memphis Grizzlies (+105) or the Dallas Mavericks (+145).
That being said, our algorithm views the Pelicans as a better-than-average team (54.0 expected winning percentage) but not one to contend for the Southwest in 2022-23 (17.0% odds). That puts them around +490 in expected odds.
It's a race between the Grizzlies and Mavericks from there. There's no discernable difference between the two in easy wins (34 for Memphis and 33 for Dallas) or in overall games as a favorite (59 apiece).
Given that the model here isn't very into the Pelicans in comparison to the sportsbook odds, that actually makes either the Grizzlies or Mavericks viable. Some books have this one as more of a toss-up, too. For that reason, I'm taking the better odds at +145, specifically available at FanDuel Sportsbook.