One of the most popular ways of betting on basketball is predicting which team will win each subsection of the league based on division odds. While winning the league title is the ultimate goal, teams also jockey for division supremacy. Though winning one’s division no longer guarantees a top-four seed in the playoffs, it does guarantee bragging rights.
In some cases, betting on a division is relatively easy. For example, it would be surprising if any team challenged Golden State in the Pacific division. In other cases, however, betting on a division is incredibly difficult. Who knows which team will win the Northwest division?
Thus, it’s essential to track the trends from last season, monitor player/coach movement in the offseason, and keep an eye on early-season buzz before putting money on the line and making your prediction.
If you’re betting on the NBA divisions, here is a comprehensive strategy for success to help you cash in your futures bets.
Understanding NBA Futures Betting Lines
There are various types of NBA betting lines, including totals and point spreads and moneylines, but in this case, we’re talking about NBA futures. Understanding the NBA division odds is quite simple.
Below, you’ll see each team name with a plus or minus sign next to it. If the team has a minus sign in front of its name, the number that follows indicates how much money you would have to wager to win $100. For example, the Houston Rockets have -110 odds of winning the Southwest – that means you would need to wager $110 to win $100 if Houston won its division.
The plus sign, alternatively, shows how much you would win on top of a $100 bet. For example, the San Antonio Spurs have +110 odds to win the Southwest. That means if you bet $100 on the Spurs, you’d cash out with $210 if they won the division.
Of course, you don’t have to bet in $100 increments – we merely used that example for clarity. You’re free to bet whatever amount you like.
It may be a bit confusing, but just remember that the smallest number – in this case, -110 – is the biggest favorite. The smaller the number, the bigger the favorite. The higher the number, the bigger the underdog.
If the Warriors are -2000, that means they’re a significant favorite in comparison to the Rockets at -110 in the Southwest or the Oklahoma City Thunder at +210 in the Northwest. Meanwhile, the Memphis Grizzlies are a sizable dog at +5000 compared to the Denver Nuggets at +450.
2018 NBA Division Odds
We’ve analyzed the 2018 NBA Division odds and prepared a breakdown of each team’s chances of winning their division based on their NBA futures odds.
Atlantic Betting Odds
Boston Celtics -130
Toronto Raptors +280
Philadelphia 76ers +300
Brooklyn Nets +15000
New York Knicks +20000
Atlantic Best Betting Strategies
The Atlantic should feature easily the most competitive – and fun – divisional race in the East. This division boasts arguably the three best teams in the conference: the Celtics, Raptors, and 76ers. Unfortunately for hoops fans in New York City, the Nets and Knicks don’t have a prayer while grouped up with this murderer’s row. You’d be best served going with the Celtics or Raptors. Given their payout, the Raptors look like the most favorable bet.
Central Betting Odds
Milwaukee Bucks +110
Indiana Pacers +130
Detroit Pistons +650
Chicago Bulls +3500
Cleveland Cavaliers +3500
Central Best Betting Strategies
The Bucks, with new coach Mike Budenholzer (who came over from Atlanta this summer) and emerging star Giannis Antetokounmpo, are the slight favorites to win the Central. But the Indiana Pacers, who gave LeBron James and the Cavaliers a run for their money in the first round of the 2017-18 playoffs, are tight on their heels. The Cavs won this division a year ago but have incredibly slim odds of repeating. Don’t even think about betting on anyone other than the Bucks or Pacers.
Southeast Betting Odds
Washington Wizards -140
Miami Heat +170
Charlotte Hornets +1200
Orlando Magic +1800
Atlanta Hawks +5000
Southeast Best Betting Strategies
The Wizards are unquestionably the most talented team in the Southeast – John Wall and Bradley Beal form a lethal backcourt duo. But this team has never managed to turn its talent into sustained success on the court. One has to wonder how Dwight Howard will impact the locker room’s chemistry. If they slip up, Erik Spoelstra’s Heat could snatch the Southeast. Given Washington’s inconsistency, we favor the Heat at +170.
Southwest Betting Odds
Houston Rockets -110
San Antonio Spurs +110
New Orleans Pelicans +2000
Dallas Mavericks +3300
Memphis Grizzlies +5000
Southwest Best Betting Strategies
This Rockets should cruise to a Southwest title. After adding DeMar DeRozan, the Spurs have some talent, and they have arguably the best coach in the game in Gregg Popovich. But the Rockets finished last season with the league’s best record, and James Harden and Chris Paul should be hungrier than ever after a devastating Western Conference Finals loss to the Warriors that proved they are right on the precipice of greatness. Wager on Houston to win this division, and if you’re going to go with anyone else, pick the Pelicans at +2000.
Pacific Betting Odds
Golden State Warriors -2000
LA Lakers +700
LA Clippers +5000
Phoenix Suns +15000
Sacramento Kings +50000
Pacific Best Betting Strategies
The Pacific is extremely top-heavy. The Warriors are heavy favorites to win not only the division but also the conference and the league championship. The Lakers are their only real competition. The Clippers have a scrappy squad that could fight for a playoff berth, but they won’t pose a threat to Golden State. Look for the Warriors to win their division easily. Don’t lay money on LeBron in Year One of his run in the purple and gold – you’ll lose it.
Northwest Betting Odds
Oklahoma City Thunder +210
Utah Jazz +220
Denver Nuggets +450
Minnesota Timberwolves +550
Portland Trail Blazers +650
Northwest Best Betting Strategies
The Northwest is clearly the deepest and most competitive division in the West. This division truly could belong to any of its five teams. Though the Thunder have the best odds of coming out victorious, we favor the Jazz. Utah’s defense is otherworldly, and Donovan Mitchell continues to come into his own as one of the game’s best young players. Don’t be surprised if Denver also contends for the Northwest crown. Utah and Denver are our two favorite bets here.
NBA Futures Betting Strategy to Pick the Winner of Each NBA Division
Know The History
One of the keys to picking each division’s champ is to understand what happened last year. You have to do some homework and get a view of which direction the teams are heading. The Warriors are clear favorites in the Pacific. You don’t need to do much homework to know they’re your best bet in that division.
But some other divisions have more complicated situations. Did a team finish the year well? Did a team that was expected to do well falter for unclear reasons? Did a young team perform well but fall short down the stretch? When you’re betting on the NBA divisions, getting a thorough sense of what happened last year should give you a solid idea of what will happen the coming year.
Follow The Offseason
A lot can change in an offseason. First there’s free agency, then there’s the NBA Draft, and then there are training camps. In between all this action, there are cuts, trades, and coaching changes. If you’re not keeping tabs on what’s happening, you’ll have no idea how to bet on the future.
The NBA Draft is important because a good draft can completely reshape a roster. Free agency and trades are a big deal because the best players can change teams and make an immediate impact (see LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard this summer).
Coaching changes are crucial as a losing team can fire their coach, change their culture and turn things around immediately – like the result many expect from the Milwaukee Bucks, who fired Jason Kidd last season and eventually brought in Mike Budenholzer this summer.
Following such personnel changes will help you find value on the board when it comes to NBA future betting lines.
Watch the Preseason
The NBA Preseason might seem like nothing too entertaining, but only a novice bettor would discount these games. While the competition is a far cry from the quality we see in the regular season, these exhibition contests give us our first look at how the teams have come together in the offseason – and how they’ll play together when it really matters.
While it might be tricky to bet based on these games because it’s unclear who is really trying and what the player rotations might be when teams aren’t being cautious, the preseason is still our first look at the current-year versions of the teams. That’s important, if you’re planning to bet on NBA futures.
Bet During the Season
Finally, one key point to remember is that NBA divisional futures are often kept on the board throughout the season. Your best value (the biggest payout) will come if you make your prediction early in the offseason.
However, NBA futures divisional lines are updated each week, and that gives you an opportunity to make a decision later. That might help if you want to see how the teams perform in regular season action for a brief period. Or, alternatively, you could also use the NBA futures lines as a tool to hedge.