Welcome back to Futures Friday!
Every week I dive into futures bets to play based on where the value is at that point in the season. Each week we’ll make plays based on distributing a half-unit of value. Over the course of a season, it’ll add up to a sizable position.
Here’s the nasty secret that most people don’t pay attention to: The NBA season is already mostly over.
That catches folks off guard. “But we’re not even to All-Star Break!”
Yeah, All-Star happens around the 60-game mark. Already, we’re 61% of the way through the season.
Most people don’t start paying attention to the NBA until Christmas, and a decent percentage not even until after football is done. By that point, teams have already separated themselves out in fairly conclusive manner.
The last three weeks of the season, roughly 10 games, or so, are mostly strategic rest opportunities whether teams are preparing for the playoffs or the lottery. Do you know how much meaningful season we have left? About six weeks. That’s it.
Here’s where bettors have an advantage. There’s still the idea that “there’s a lot of season left!” when there’s not.
Evan Mobley ROY -310 | Ja Morant MIP -240 | Tyler Herro 6 MAN -750 | Rudy Gobert DPOY +170 or Mikal Bridges DPOY +2400
Rookie of the Year: Cade Cunningham is in and out of the lineup and has as many rough nights as spectacular ones. Scottie Barnes is really good and should get second, but Mobley’s defense and impact on the Cavs pops more. I think Mobley’s established lead is enough to hold over the back half of the season.
Most Improved Player: Six of the past seven Most Improved Player winners have been first-time All-Stars, which Morant is this season (and a starter, too). Morant is unlikely to pull off MVP, but Most Improved Player is pretty close to a lock, despite the incredible leap players like Miles Bridges and Desmond Bane made this season.
Sixth Man of the Year: This is pretty unfair and another sign of how the award is badly designed, but Herro leads the league in points off the bench and that player almost always wins. His competition has fallen off. There’s a reason he’s -750.
Defensive Player of the Year: Ok, here’s where it gets interesting. Draymond Green is the co-favorite at FanDuel, but it’s not consensus at all the books. Green’s injury was revealed to be a back injury and there’s no timeline for his return, nor is there a lot of impulse from the Warriors to push it.
It’s much more likely they rest Green and while most will acknowledge Green as the better candidate, availability is always the best skill.
So you take Gobert with the news that he’s expected to be back ahead of the All-Star bread given that he’s the default choice. That four-way parlay pays out +478.
You also take Mikal Bridges, who is the most impactful defender on the second-best defense league-wide. His number alone here has value, but if you plug him into this parlay with the favorites you get an outrageous payout of +5208.
If you want, you can sub in Jaren Jackson Jr. at +1100 (though I’m not sure he has the juice), or Giannis Antetokounmpo at +600, who I have a hard time seeing getting the bump with the 11th-best defense. You can also hedge with a bet on Draymond if you didn’t follow us earlier in the season when we got him at +2000.
But the value on Bridges is ridiculous and those other picks are far ahead of the field with low enough numbers to take a shot on a four-way parlay.