To no ones surprise, the Suns are +160 favorites to win the Western Conference with an NBA best 48-10 record.
Phoenix hit the All-Star break on a seven-game winning streak and won 18 out of the past 19 games. The Suns are +450 to win it all, tied with the Golden State Warriors who sit 6.5 games back of the Suns with a 42-17 record.
The Warriors (+200) have not dropped below +550 to win the West all season while the Suns' odds stayed below +550 since December. Do not expect either teams odds to get any better unless this is a significant injury.
The Jazz (+700) and Grizzlies (+1000) are the two teams trailing in terms of odds. Utah received Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert back from injury, so expect their odds to shorten and plenty of second-half wins from the Jazz. Utah's odds were lower all season dating back to October, which means there is no value lost in betting the Jazz now.
Memphis has Ja Morant, who leads the Most Improved Player Market and is in the running for MVP, plus Jaren Jackson Jr., a semi-dark horse for Defensive Player of the Year. The Grizzlies were +2500 to start January, so there is still a small amount of value left in betting Memphis.
As you go down the West in odds, outside of Denver, I would not bet on anyone else. Denver could be a threat if they receive Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray back. However, without one or both players, Nikola Jokic can only do so much.
A lot of sharps are taking lunch money wagers on the Nuggets which shifted the odds from +1800 to +1200 over the past week. Take a look at the Suns, Jazz and Nuggets for your long-term Western Conference bets.
The Nets and Bucks are tied at +300 to win the East with the 76ers sitting at +375. While the three of them seem to be the cream of the crop, the Miami Heat (+550) and a few dark horses have rounded out a talented Eastern Conference.
The Celtics (+800) have turned their season around winning nine of the last 10 games, while the Bulls (+1600), Cavaliers (+2000) and Raptors (+2800) all had stellar first halves of the season, exceeding expectations.
While those four teams are dark horses, I would argue the Hawks at +5000, despite being the 10th seed in the East right now, are a better bet and more dangerous than the Celtics, Bulls, Cavs and Raptors in the postseason.
Before making a bet in this conference, you might want to wait and see how the Harden and Embiid duo works out, plus consider Kevin Durant's return to Brooklyn and the fact that Miami has not been 100-percent healthy all season.
This is arguably the most open Eastern Conferences in recent memory.
Most of the award market seems all but locked up.
The only markets that are open for betting is MVP and Defensive Player of the Year.
Currently, Joel Embiid is +135 to win MVP with Nikola Jokic (+300), Giannis Antetokounmpo (+350), Stephen Curry (+1000) and Ja Morant (+1200) trailing, plus DeMar DeRozan (+2500) and Devin Booker (+2500) lurking in the shadows.
Embiid has an advantage with James Harden coming to town. Most of the players in contention for MVP have already won, so voters could elect a fresh face for MVP. While Embiid's stats could decline with Harden, the 76ers could reach a top seed in the East.
Giannis and the Bucks have a chance at the top seed, which would boost his MVP case. DeRozan is carrying Chicago but voters are not as vocal for the Bulls leading scorer and sports books seem happy to take those tickets.
We have futures on Embiid for MVP (+600), Morant to win MIP (-140), Herro to win Sixth Man (+2000), plus Monty Williams for COY (+140) and some lunch money on Billy Donovan (+600) and Steve Nash (+2500).
The Defensive Player of the Year market is odd this year. Rudy Gobert (+175) and Draymond Green (+200) lead the charge but have missed significant time. If you are choosing between one or the other for this award, Gobert should be the clear-cut favorite moving forward.
Jaren Jackson Jr. (+700) and Jarret Allen (+2000) are the two contending players who have a outside chance at this award. Jackson's odds were +30000 in January, but after Morant started vouching for JJJ to be DPOY, everyone grabbed a piece of Jackson's odds. Allen opened the season at +5500 and was tagged at +800 a week ago, so he is fading away in this race.
I prefer Gobert in this race for DPOY with some lunch money on Jackson and my eyes on a Giannis run for DPOY and MVP.
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