The NBA regular season is here, which means it’s time for future bets!
While we’re all feeling bearish on the future of the Detroit Pistons, that doesn’t mean we can't throw some coin down on the future doings of other teams and players in the NBA.
Futures bets are simple: you decide who you think will do something, and you bet it.
They’re great because the odds are typically much longer than day-to-day betting, so your ability to make a decent chunk of change are exponentially higher.
I want to clarify here that these aren’t all the “most likely” choice. Sometimes odds on the most logical choice suck, so this is where I’m looking value on guys who aren’t the favorites but could sneak up and win an award.
I always refer back to Scottie Barnes two years ago as my favorite NBA futures bet because he had great odds and snuck up and snatched the Rookie of the Year away from guys like Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. That’s what we want here.
If you tail here, be smart, please. Units are important (1u = normal amount you bet, 0.5u = half that, 0.25u = a quarter of 1u, duh) and don’t bet a boatload because you’re tying this money up until May.
Let’s get to the board:
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
PICK: Jayson Tatum (1u on +750 at Caesars Sportsbook)
LONG SHOT: Anthony Edwards (0.25u on +3300 at BetMGM)
PISTONS ANGLE: Cade Cunningham (+25000 on BetMGM)
It feels like this is a big year for Tatum. The Celtics have retooled with the addition of Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday and enter the year as one of the favorites to win the NBA title. Tatum does the Tatum things, the Celtics are able to establish themselves as the Beasts of the East over Giannis, Dame and Milwaukee, he’s your MVP.
The Wolves are good. They were good last year and they’ll get a full, healthy season from KAT this season. If they finish with one of the top records in the West and Edwards takes another leap as a two-way star who churns out highlight-reel plays every night, I think there’s something here.
Lastly, don’t bet Cade. I love him. We all love him. I included him because he’s on the Pistons. His time will come to be mentioned here seriously, but that time is not now.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
PICK: Cade Cunningham (1u at +1500 at FanDuel)
LONG SHOT: Jabari Smith Jr. (0.5u each at +3500)
But do bet him here.
Cade is back. Cade is healthy. Players who earn this award often have high draft capital and flash versatility and scoring. Cade checks those boxes. He’ll just need to get the Pistons to 30 or so wins and put up a 24-8-8 line while adding a few splashy performances along the way. Sounds like a lot, but I like this one a lot.
I’m very bullish on Jabari Smith Jr. He had an outstanding run at Summer League — torching the Pistons along the way — and kept it up by leading the Rockets in scoring, rebounding and 3-point percentage this preseason. Houston is going to be better this season with the addition of Fred VanVleet and Smith’s star is rising.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
PICK: Scoot Henderson (0.5u at +500 at FanDuel)
LONG SHOT & PISTONS ANGLE: Ausar Thompson (0.25u at +8000 on BetMGM)
This is an award where it feels like Victor Wembanyama already has it in the bag. He’s a relatively heavy favorite (-135) and has been awesome this preseason. He’s got a million primetime games, too. It’s his award to lose, and injury is really the only way I see that.
However, if he does sustain an unfortunate injury, I want to have some Scoot Henderson in the portfolio. I think he’s going to be outstanding under Chauncey Billups, and Portland has enough talent that he’ll be able to do his thing as a playmaker.
Ausar is my long shot and Pistons pick. I don't think he wins it, but I think he’ll be one of the top five rookies this year. It could be worth a few bucks at these long odds.
SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR
PICK: Malik Monk (1u on +1200 at FanDuel)
LONG SHOT: Cam Thomas (0.25u on +5000 at FanDuel)
PISTONS ANGLE: Jaden Ivey (0.25u on +8000 at PointsBet)
Little guards who can score dominate this award. So, we’re targeting three of them.
Malik Monk had a breakout year with the Kings last season and he’s coming off a really nice playoff run. I think they’ll be good yet again and he’s going to play in front of a bigger audience nationally because of it.
Cam Thomas was a walking BUCKET when he got extensive playing time last year. I don’t know if he’ll get consistent run this season because defense is optional to him, but I’m confident he’ll put up numbers when he plays, it’s just a matter of the Nets unleashing him.
Ivey is the Pistons pick here, and it’s one I actually feel decent about. Do I think he’ll come off the bench from Game 1 through Game 82? No... but if he does, he’ll have freedom to do a lot with the ball. Ivey replicating last year’s 15-4-4 off the bench for a Pistons team that sniffs being respectably bad could keep him in the running.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
PICK: Jaren Jackson Jr. (1u on +600 at DraftKings)
LONG SHOT: Victor Wembanyama (0.25u on +1300 at BetMGM)
PISTONS ANGLE: None LOL
This is an award where dudes can win it multiple times, so Jaren Jackson Jr. has a good shot at repeating. I think Memphis’ defense is going to be best in the league with the addition of Marcus Smart, only bolstering the case here... so long as JJJ stays healthy, of course.
Victor is the long shot, and while a rookie has never won DPOTY, this is the rookie who can do it. If you really want to take a rookie and don’t feel like betting the trendy one, you can get OKC’s Chet Holmgren at +3000 on some books.
Also LOL at zero Pistons listed for this. Monty Williams has his work cut out for him.
COACH OF THE YEAR
PICK: Nick Nurse (0.5u on +1600 at FanDuel)
LONG SHOT: Jamahl Mosley (0.5u on +2500 at DraftKings)
PISTONS ANGLE: Monty Williams (0.25u on +4000 at DraftKings)
There are two ways to view a Coach of the Year candidate: Did they lead their team to the best record in the NBA or did their team breakout? We’ve got both here.
Nurse has championship pedigree from his time in Toronto. That’s big for narrative. Add in the inevitable James Harden trade shaking things up and it gives him some cache with the narrative shifting to him leading the Sixers to the top of the East amidst transition.
Mosley is an extension of my feeling that the Magic are the East’s breakout team. I love their roster. I love Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. If they stay healthy and get a bump in production from Jalen Suggs (or Anthony Black is good enough to just overtake him) this is going to be a really improved and fun team.
Finally, we have Monty. His odds are long for a reason. I think Detroit would need to get to like 35 wins and/or the Play-In for him to have a shot. His Suns improved by 9 games and were particularly hot at the end of his first season, so it’s not impossible if we see that here.
CLUTCH PLAYER OF THE YEAR
PICK: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (0.5u at +1000 on FanDuel)
LONG SHOT: Jalen Brunson (0.25u at +2200 on FanDuel)
PISTONS ANGLE: Maybe Cade, eventually?
This is a newer award and De’Aaron Fox took him the inaugural one last season. He led the Kings to a bunch of wins and led the league in points scored during “clutch” time, defined as minutes when the margin is within 5 points with five or fewer minutes left.
So, it really comes down to which teams will win and play in the most close games and who will hit the big shots. I like Shai because he’s a superstar and is going to be taking the big shots for OKC. If they make a Sacramento-like jump — or even just a true playoff leap — he’ll be taking and making big shots. You know he’s going to score.
The long shot is Brunson, a guy who made a living nailing tough shots late in playoff games last spring. I think he’s going to develop into The Guy in NYC in his second year under Thibs, and the big shots should be funneled his way. His biggest hinderance will be Julius Randle, but for the odds this is a fun bet.
The Cade angle here is simple: he played well in the clutch as a rookie, but only 13 times were the Pistons within 5 points with five or fewer minutes to go. He’s not listed yet, but if the team is improved and he pops up on a book somewhere, I’d invest a buck or two.