NBA Betting Tips: Can the Denver Nuggets become back-to-back champions

By Alex Brinton

Latest NBA Odds

17 January 2024

As the NBA regular season lumbers its way past the halfway point and attention turns towards next month’s All-Star game in Indianapolis, it seems as good a time as any to take a look at the outright markets.

Who is going to take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy?

Boston Celtics @ 3.95

The Celtics have been incredibly impressive this season, they sit at the top of the Eastern Conference and boast the best record in the NBA at 30-9. 

It is often said by NBA pundits and ex-players that if you are serious about winning the title then you need to have an offence and defence that ranks in the top eight in the league. They have the fifth best offence and the fifth best defence, these two combined gives them the best points differential in the league at 9.7. The Celtics also lead the league in rebounds and blocks per game. Their starting five is arguably the strongest in the league as a complete package. However, concerns over the health of Kristaps Porzingis are not unfounded. The 7ft 2in centre has had his injury problems, and if he was to go down it would be a big blow for Boston.

While there is no doubting Jayson Tatum’s credentials as one of the best two-way players in the league - he was ranked as the eighth best player in the NBA by the Ringer earlier this month. He is not quite at the upper echelon of players. This is where the drawbacks start for the Celtics, so often play-off series come down to who has the best player and up against the other contenders the C’s don’t appear to have this advantage. 

Denver Nuggets @ 5.4

The Nuggets are currently only third in the Western Conference with a record of 28-14, but the reigning champions are playing with a swagger and confidence that can only come from winning. 

They boast one of the best defences in the league, allowing just 111.4 points per game. This is a great base to build a championship winning team from, “offence wins you matches, defence wins you championships” is a saying that will be familiar to sports fans all over the world. Jamal Murray, their second star and point guard, has also missed 14 games so far this season, making their record even more impressive. 

The biggest reason to back the Nuggets is Nikola Jokic, he is considered to be the best player in the world and is impossible to stop when he is on his game. He currently leads the Nuggets in points, rebounds and assists. In whatever series they are in, he will likely be the key player on the floor.

If you are looking for a drawback, you could look at Murray’s tendency to pick up injuries, the inconsistent shooting of Michael Porter Jr. and a bench that is a bit weaker than last season after the loss of Bruce Brown Jr.

Milwaukee Bucks @ 7.0

It hasn’t all gone to plan for the pre-season favourites. They are still second in the Eastern Conference at 28-12. 

While the Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard combination has given them the second-best offence in the league, it has caused them problems at the other end of the court. They are ranked 24th in defence so far this season, by far the lowest of any of the teams that can seriously lay a claim to being title contenders.

The Bucks also lack the depth that is so often needed to get through the later play-off rounds and because of their trade for Lillard they don’t have many options in terms of trades. 

Make no mistake though, a team with Lillard and Giannis is always going to be a threat. 

Los Angeles Clippers @ 12

The Clippers are worth a look for those of you looking for value. Their trade for James Harden caused a lot of confusion from NBA pundits but he has really unlocked their offence since he came into the building. 

They have the deepest roster in the NBA and have been on a tear recently with a record of 21-6 in their last 27 games. Kawhi Leonard’s time in LA has been plagued by injury but he looks back to his best this season. Fellow superstar Paul George is also finding his feet again and with Harden playing the role of provider their offence has a scary look to it. 

Injuries are the biggest worry for this team, Leonard, George and Ibica Zubac all have a history with breaking down. If they stay healthy, they look to be the value.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ 19.5

The Thunder have been a revelation this year. They were good last season, but they have taken it to another level this year. Currently second in the Western Conference, they have the league’s third best offence. 

In Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, they also have one of the best players in the league. SGA is averaging 31.3 points per game and despite being only 25 he is leading this team to great things.

The biggest reason to back the Thunder is their ability to make trades before the deadline. They are armed with a mountain of picks and some tradable assets that give them the leverage to be able to bring in a star name. If they do so, we can expect their price to drop. 

The MVP Race

Nikola Jokic @ 2.84

The Joker’s performance in last season’s play-offs was impressive enough for him to claim the official titles of final’s MVP and conference final’s MVP but also unofficially as the best player in the world. 

He had won the previous two regular season awards, but a combination of voter fatigue and the Nuggets taking their foot off the gas as the regular season drew to an end meant Joel Embiid won last year’s prize. 

As mentioned above Jokic leads the Nuggets in points, assists and rebounds. The important thing to remember with this award is that it is not a stats-based award, it is voted for by a certain group of journalists, so narrative is more important. This favours Jokic.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander @ 3.1

The transformation of SGA from a good to a great player has been one of the stories of the season. He is averaging 31.3 points per game, the third best in the league, while shooting at a scarcely believable 55.6% from the field. The Canadian guard also leads his team in assists and the league in steals, averaging 2.3 a game. 

His Thunder side do have a real chance this season and their championship window has been forced upon, thanks mainly to the performances of SGA.

Giannis Antetokounmpo @ 9.0

Giannis is worth a look at the price he is currently at. He has been on a tear this season, averaging 31.2 ppg, 11.6 rebounds and 5.9 assists. He has been incredibly efficient with his scoring as well, shooting at 60.8%. 

For Giannis to come into contention, the Bucks need to sort out their defence and improve their record. If they go on a run, led by the Greek Freak dominating on both ends of the floor then he really does have a good chance.

Rookie of the Year

Chet Holmgren @ 1.51

Holmgren was the second pick in the 2022 draft behind last season’s winner of this trophy Paolo Banchero. However, an injury before the start of the season saw him miss the entirety of the year. The 7ft 1in forward/centre has been a great addition to the Oklahoma City Thunder this year. He leads his team in both rebounds per game, 7.3, and blocks per game, 2.5. He is also averaging 17.7 ppg, so combine all those stats together with a strong basketball IQ and you have a seriously talented individual who is making a real difference on one of the best teams in the league.

Victor Wembenyama @ 2.22

Wemby, was the first pick in this season’s draft and was described pre-draft as the most exciting prospect since LeBron James in 2003. Already this season, he has provided plenty of jaw dropping moments from outrageous blocks, savage dunks and unguardable three-pointers. His stats are pretty remarkable as well, 19.6 ppg, 10.3 rebounds and a league-leading 3.2 blocks per game. He was favourite before the season started, but the San Antonio Spurs have been incredibly poor this season. They’re record is just 7-32, it is hard to reward a player on a team doing that badly. 

Jaime Jaquez @ 120

This is purely an injury play. Young, skinny, tall forwards like Wembenyama and Holmgren are  notoriously injury prone. That brings Jaquez into play and at his current price he is worth a look. The Miami Heat player has been a revelation since his arrival on South Beach. He was only drafted 18th, but if the draft was redone tomorrow he would easily be a top five pick. Jaquez is averaging 14 ppg and is playing big minutes for a team that made the finals last year. 

Recommended Bets

Back the Denver Nuggets @ 5.5
Back Nikola Jokic to win MVP @ 2.7
Back Jaime Jaquez to win RoY@ 120

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