Nikola Jokic led the Denver Nuggets to victory in this year’s NBA Championship – are you already rubbing your hands on who the next champion may be?
We’ve listed the best sportsbooks that release early odds for NBA futures betting, allowing you to take advantage of great prices while future events are completely unpredictable.
We’ve placed our predictions at MyStake, considering it has some of the best odds around, but you’d do well to read on and find out more about all other sportsbooks.
Best Sites for NBA Futures Betting
- MyStake: Best overall
- BetOnline: Best for NBA live betting
- Bovada: Best conference championship odds
- BUSR: Best NBA betting markets
- MyBookie: Best total bets
- Everygame: Best sports bonuses
- XBet: Best for NBA spread betting
- Thunderpick: Best accumulator bets
- BetUS: Top pick for NBA prop bets
- Sportsbetting: Best for NBA specials
What is NBA Futures Betting?
Simply put, an NBA futures bet is a wager placed on an event that will happen.
Now, you’re probably thinking, “Aren’t all bets placed on events that will happen in the future? That’s the whole point.”
True — but most bets are placed on events that will happen later that day or possibly in a week or so. Futures bets are placed on events that will happen in the future; this can include betting on the NBA championship or NBA playoffs before the season even begins, for example.
As a result, the odds aren’t usually as sharp as they would be for a bet on a single game. This can be a double-edged sword; on the one hand, Vegas doesn’t know any more than you do for once, but on the other, they usually factor that uncertainty into the odds, giving you a slightly worse price.
Futures bets can be made at any point in the season. However, as the season plays out and more information is known, the bookies will be better able to accurately price the odds, which could put you at a disadvantage. Many bettors prefer putting their money down before the first game is played.
One thing you should know about futures betting is that once you place a bet, your money is locked in at the price of the bet. That means if you bet on the Bucks to win it all only to watch Giannis blow out his knee later that day, you won’t get your money back or a discount on the price.
On the other hand, if you pick the Magic to win the NBA finals at +20000, only to see them somehow trade for Lebron, Luka, and Jokic, the bookie has to honor your long-shot odds even though you’re now backing a super team.
Futures bets are, by their very nature, very volatile. Many professional bettors won’t touch them, as they don’t have the stomach to handle the swings.
If you’re betting for fun, though, few bets are more thrilling than a futures bet. It’s also a way to keep you locked in throughout the season — those odds can change on a dime.
Related post: NBA MVP Odds
How to Read NBA Futures Odds
Getting started might seem intimidating if you’ve never bet on NBA futures. We’ll show you exactly how to read the futures lines so you know exactly what you’re getting into before you put any money down.
Reading Futures Odds
Futures are almost always expressed in American odds, so you’ll see things like “Warriors +1200” or “Pistons +100000.”
If you see a plus sign before the number, that means that the number represents how much you’d win if you placed $100 on the bet. So, using the examples above, a $100 bet on the Warriors would potentially return $1200, while the same bet on the Pistons could net you a cool hundred grand.
On the other hand, a minus sign before the number (which you’ll rarely see on futures bets) represents how much you’d have to bet to win $100. For example, if you see “Celtics -135,” you’d need to bet $135 on Boston to win $100.
Other Odds Forms
Sometimes, you’ll see futures bets shown as fractional odds — like “Lakers 20/1” or “76ers 8.5-to-1.” In this fraction, the numerator represents the payoff per dollar; so, if the Lakers won, you’d get $20 for every buck you bet on them, while a Sixers win would get you $8.50 for every buck.
This might be confusing initially, but you’ll eventually get to a point where reading odds is second nature. Understanding how much you stand to gain versus your risk is one of the most important parts of being a successful sports bettor.
Types of NBA Futures Bets
You can place a futures bet about any sport, although the NBA is undoubtedly one of the most popular choices for casual and experienced bettors. That’s because there are a lot of games to be played, and a lot can happen between November and June.
So what can you place a futures bet on? Just about anything — the only limit is the sportsbook’s imagination.
The most common futures bet is a wager on the eventual champion. This bet is simple: you put your money down on the team you think has the best chance to win it all.
As we mentioned, you don’t get to change your bet if circumstances change. That means you’ll have to factor in things like injury histories, the likelihood of trades, and more when placing your bet.
Of course, you can bet on more than just who will win it all. Many sites let you wager on things like the team’s eventual finish in their division or their win/loss totals. These are usually over/under bets.
While these bets can be tricky, they’re also tremendously fun if your favorite squad is in the middle of a rebuilding year. After all, you might not have much interest in watching the last Rockets game of the season if the team is 19-62 — but if you have money on them finishing with at least 20 wins, you can bet you’ll be riveted to your TV screen all game long.
If you don’t have any strong feelings about any team in particular, you can try to predict how individual players will fare.
This can mean betting on stats or awards. You’ll find bets like who will be NBA MVP, Finals MVP, and Rookie of the Year, or you can wager on things like Coach of the Year.
If you think a player is due for a breakout season, you can bet on their averages in certain statistical categories, like points or rebounds per game.
In some cases, you can bet on the likelihood of individual game results, like whether you think Steph Curry has a 50-point game in him this season or if you think Lebron will post more than ten triple-doubles.
You’re not even limited by what happens on the court. Many sites let you bet on who you think will win the NBA Draft Lottery or even the order of the draft picks.
As you can probably see, futures betting is ruled by the famous gambler’s maxim, “If it exists, you can bet on it.”
NBA Futures Betting Strategy
Now that you know what kind of futures bets you can make, what’s the best way to turn that knowledge into cold, hard cash?
You should dial your expectations back, for starters. As we discussed earlier, all the uncertainty around futures betting tends to make bookies nervous, so they usually won’t offer their juiciest odds on futures bets. You’re unlikely to profit in the long run on futures betting.
That being said, there are several techniques that sharps use to separate themselves from the suckers — and here are some of our favorites.
1. Open Accounts at Multiple Sportsbooks
If you don’t follow any other advice in this article, follow this one. Line shopping is the best way to boost your chances of making a profit, but you can’t shop around unless you have accounts at multiple sportsbooks.
You can find our favorite sportsbooks listed above; each site is safe and reputable, but more importantly, they usually disagree on the odds, especially regarding futures. It’s common to find massive discrepancies between sportsbooks, especially if you’re betting longshots.
2. Take Advantage of Sports Bonuses
Another reason to open up accounts at multiple sportsbooks is that it will allow you to claim multiple deposit bonuses. These bonuses are great ways to pad your bankroll and allow you to bet on futures for virtually nothing.
Given how volatile futures betting can be, many bettors will only find it possible to come out on top if they take advantage of the great deals that betting sites offer new customers.
It’s free money. Don’t let it go to waste.
3. Stay on Top of Live Betting
The longer a bet has been sitting there, the higher the likelihood that the bookies have been able to zero in on the best price (for them). They’ve had much time to analyze the information and will unlikely be too wrong.
However, things can happen during the season that will drastically affect futures odds. If you can stay on top of breaking news and lock in odds before the bookies can update them, you can set yourself up with some extremely profitable situations.
For example, did Kyrie just force another trade? If he’s going to be a contender, you might be able to buy those odds before Vegas can adjust. It’s not a guarantee of profit — but it can put you in a very advantageous position.
If you’re betting at a site that allows cash outs, you may also be able to limit your losses if you act fast. That means if you just saw Jayson Tatum go down in real-time, you might be able to buy your way out of that Celtics championship bet for a small loss rather than losing your shirt.
4. Buy Early
This follows from the previous example. The #1 thing you don’t want to do when betting on futures is buy after Vegas has had a chance to update their odds.
Using a previous example, if you saw that Kyrie was just traded to the Celtics and the sportsbook just lowered Boston’s championship odds, don’t bet on them. They usually offer terrible prices to take advantage of all the Johnny-come-latelies hoping to cash in on the breaking news.
Again, if you can make a bet before the sportsbooks get a handle on the situation, then do it. That’s a great way to come out ahead. If Vegas has a step on you, though, keep your money in your pocket — there will be other, better opportunities.
5. Don’t Tie Up Your Bankroll
It’s crucial to understand that unless you opt for a cash-out at some point, any futures bet you make will likely result in your money being locked up all season.
If you’re a bettor on a budget, you should be careful about how much of your bankroll you devote to futures bets. If you place too many of them, you could be forced to sit on the sideline all season while you wait for your long-term investments to come in.
We’d recommend devoting no more than 20% of your budget to futures bets. That allows you to have some interesting action going all season long while still being able to jump on enticing moneylines as they present themselves.
6. Take Advantage of Hedging Opportunities
Sometimes, you can hedge your futures bet. This means betting against yourself when the stakes get high.
Why would you do such a thing? Hedging your bets allows you to lock in a guaranteed profit smaller than what you could make if you let it ride. If you’re risk-averse, it’s a smart play.
For example, let’s say that you bet $100 on the Lakers to win it all before the season at +1500. Against all odds, Lebron has carried the team to the Finals, where the Celtics await, and Boston is a -100 favorite.
If you let the bet ride, you could win $1500 if the Lakers win, but you could lose $100 if the favored Celtics take the series. To limit your risk, you can place a bet on the Celtics that would lock in an overall profit for you.
You could bet $300 on the Celtics to win; if they do, you’ll still be up $100 overall. However, if the Lakers win, you’ll be up $1200 overall — less than what you would have made by not hedging, but you’ll be paying $300 to guarantee a profit.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Fade Your Favorites
Besides buying late, the biggest mistake that most futures bettors make is refusing to bet against their favorite team.
Let’s face it — your hometown heroes won’t always have the best odds, and fans who can’t accept that their team won’t always win the championship are some of Vegas’s favorite customers.
If you honestly think that your favorite team is undervalued and has good odds to win it all, then by all means, bet on them. However, if the odds look bad, they probably are — and you’re not disrespecting them by betting on someone else.
Also, remember that you’re likely an expert on your own team. Fading them when the odds demand it is a great way to turn your knowledge into (saved) money.
Check out other betting opportunities:
Guide to NBA Betting
Can You Bet on Future NBA Games – Like the NBA Championship?
Yes, you can bet on anything that happens in the NBA in the future — from individual games to championships and player awards. You can also bet on games a few days away or wager on the outcome of things that won’t happen for months.
Is NBA Betting Profitable?
It’s very unlikely that betting on the NBA (or any sport, for that matter) will be profitable. Some sharp bettors profit from betting on games, but it takes a ton of skill, lots of time, and a huge bankroll. Betting successfully in the NBA is a full-time job, so we’d recommend treating it as a fun hobby.
Are NBA Futures High-Percentage Bets?
By their very nature, NBA futures tend to be very volatile wagers. It’s hard to do it successfully, so many pros avoid them. That being said, the potential for big paydays exists if you successfully hit on a long shot before the season starts.
See similar betting guides:
Best Ways to Maximize Your Futures Betting ROI
Let’s get one thing straight here: if you bet on NBA futures, you’ll probably lose in the long run. That doesn’t make it any less fun, though, and below we’ll share some strategies for getting your bottom line closer to being out of the red.
1. Really Dig into the Lines
We’ve mentioned line-shopping already…but you should line-shop. That means spending much time digging into the lines of various books.
If you can find one sportsbook whose odds are way out of line with the rest, that’s a great betting opportunity — regardless of how it turns out in the short term.
2. Learn When the Odds Drop
Not every sportsbook releases its lines at the same time. You should figure out when each sportsbook drops its odds, then try to pounce immediately before the rest of the betting public can sway those odds.
3. Stay in the Middle of the Pack
There’s usually no money to be made betting on the big favorites before the season begins. At best, you’ll make a modest profit if you’re right.
On the other hand, most long shots are actually no-shots. And it doesn’t matter what kind of odds you’re getting. Let’s face it, there’s no world in which the Wizards win the championship this season, and +100000 odds aren’t going to change that.
Instead, stick to the middle of the pack — and the top end of that. Look for teams that could possibly make a Cinderella run if things broke their way (think the 2019 Raptors or 2004 Pistons). These teams usually offer the right mix of favorable odds and realistic chances of winning, so we’d focus on them first and foremost.
4. Focus on Trade Rumors
One of the best ways to lock in a good price is to predict which teams will land a superstar at the trade deadline. If you can identify that team (or several possibilities) and place a bet while the odds are in your favor, you’ll have a massive edge if they land a Kevin Durant or a Kawhi Leonard.
Again, the last thing you want to do is be reactive. Try to anticipate major events before they happen instead.
This could mean following many insider accounts on Twitter or digging into salary cap information to see which teams can afford to be the next stop on Kyrie Irving’s flat Earth tour.
If you can spot something no one else does, you can take advantage of juicy odds no one else can.
5. Consider Depth and Schedule
Some teams are well-balanced and can weather the loss of one of their best players. Others rely on one or two superstars (hello, Lakers), so their season will go down if one of those guys goes down.
As you might expect, betting on the former is usually smarter (or at least less risky) than betting on the latter. You don’t want to watch your golden season go down because Anthony Davis stepped on a Lego and fractured his navicular bone.
Likewise, scheduling is also important. Some teams have a tougher road to the Finals than others, and that goes beyond looking at which teams in their division are good.
You’ll also want to note if they play many physical teams, as that adds to wear and tear (and increases the risk of injury). If you know your guys will be bumping into Steven Adams and the Grizzlies a lot; you might want to consider if everyone on the team can handle it.
NBA Futures Betting: Who Will Win the NBA Championship?
If you want to jump on one of the most fun gambling opportunities, then NBA futures betting fits the bill. It’s a fantastic way to keep the season entertaining (yes, even during the dog days immediately after the All-Star break).
In this guide, we’ve given you the keys to the kingdom, sharing everything from our favorite strategies to the best sites for basketball futures betting (MyStake grabbed the top spot).
You’re now equipped to get in there and start betting on everything from who will win the NBA championship to who will take home individual awards.
Granted, you’re not likely to get rich betting on NBA futures, but you’re not likely to have more fun betting on anything else.
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