NBA teams have roughly 20 games under their belts – give or take – and basketball bettors have a pretty solid idea of which teams can contend in their divisions. There have been some early-season surprises, lending value to the NBA futures market.
We have some handicapping tips on four teams that could cash in big for basketball bettors if they can win their respective division title:
Atlantic Division: Philadelphia 76ers (+1,200)
Yep, that’s right. The Process is starting to pay off with the Sixers jumping out to a strong start to the season. While everyone is watching the Celtics atop the Atlantic, Philadelphia is quietly stringing together wins. Heading into the weekend, the 76ers are 10-7 SU and just one game back of second-place Toronto. Boston’s hot start will eventually cool down and, to be honest, Boston doesn’t boast the same young legs or roster depth as the Sixers. Philadelphia is scoring more than 108 points per night and doing a solid job making opponents work for their buckets. This roster is rich with young talent, which will get better with experience each and every night.
Southeast Division: Charlotte Hornets (+1,200)
Washington is the favorite to win the Southeast but doesn’t look like through the first month of the season. The Wizards hold just a 1.5-game edge over the Hornets, who bring an 8-9 record into the weekend. Charlotte has won three in a row, including an overtime victory against Washington last time out, and is especially tough at home. The Hornets average 112.7 points per game in North Carolina – compared to only 100.4 points on the road – and are 7-2 as hosts on the year. That dominance at home should make life tough for the rest of the division and keep the Hornets on the heels of the Wizards all season.
Northwest Division: Denver Nuggets (+2,500)
The Nuggets entered the 2017-18 season with a mild buzz, pegged as a sleeper pick in the West by many NBA analyst. Denver didn’t live up to those expectations out of the gate, but seem to be showing some of the skills that made them a team to watch among talking heads. The Nuggets have watched their scoring numbers tick up, now averaging 108.1 points per game, which is crucial since they don’t do much on the defensive end. Denver plays a quick pace and can knock it down from beyond the arc. It also boasts a deep bench that can roll out six, seven, eight and nine capable players, ranked eighth in the NBA in points off the bench with 38.9 points per night.
Central Division: Milwaukee Bucks (+1,200)
Cleveland is the top dog in the Central Division, but LeBron & Co. look anything but dominant through the first 18 games. In fact, entering the weekend, the Cavaliers are second in the division behind Detroit. While those two teams duke it out atop the standings, the Bucks could quietly swoop in and steal this division crown. Milwaukee is headlined by current MVP front runner Giannis Antetokounmpo, who leads the team in pretty much every major stats category. Then you have the addition of Eric Bledsoe earlier in the month, giving the Bucks much-need scoring depth and support for “The Greek Freak”. As Bledsoe finds his role with the team, Milwaukee will likely contend with Cleveland for the division title, as the Cavs set their sights on big things in the postseason and not so much where they’re seeded come the spring.