Your Complete Betting Guide for the 2023/24 NBA season

By Alex Brinton

Latest NBA Odds

23 October 2023

The NBA makes its long awaited return tomorrow night after a 133-day absence. The world’s best players return to the court and there is so much up for grabs.

We are going to take a look at the five title favourites, the MVP race and Rookie of The Year competition. 

Your title favourites 

Milwaukee Bucks @ 5.6

Damian Lillard arriving in Milwaukee is the biggest move of this off-season. The seven-time NBA All-Star will give the Bucks offence an exciting new dimension. Lillard is probably the second greatest three-point shooter of all time behind Stephen Curry, so his shooting will help the Bucks space the floor. 

The space created by Lillard should give their two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo more room to dominate close to the hoop. Lillard and Antetokounmpo also have the chance to create a two-man pick-and-roll game which will give opposition defenders nightmares. 

The Bucks will miss Jrue Holiday’s defence at the top of the key, but a team with Giannis and Brook Lopez are never going to struggle defensively.

They also waved goodbye to championship-winning coach Mike Budenholzer, whose lack of flexibility is widely thought to have held the team back in recent years. Adrian Griffin is the new coach, it is his first head coach position having served as assistant coach to Nick Nurse in Toronto for the past five seasons.

Boston Celtics @ 5.8

The winds of change have blown through the Celtics. They have new assistant coaches to support their inexperienced head coach, Joe Mazzulla, and more importantly they have rolled the dice with a few trades to create a more complete team. 

Marcus Smart, Robert Williams and Grant Williams have all found their way to the exit door, and Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis are in. These are both really strong additions to an already very good Celtic’s roster. Holiday arrives from Milwaukee via Portland for his part in the Dame Lilliard trade

Jayson Tatum is Boston’s star and at age 25 he is ready to enter his peak years. Tatum has been one of the league’s best players for the last two years, but NBA history tells us that he is about to go up another level. If he does, the Celtics will have a good year.

The C’s have arguably the best starting five in the league and in last week’s survey of all the team’s GM’s they were level with the Denver Nuggets as the most likely team to make the NBA finals.

Denver Nuggets @ 6.6

The reigning champions are back. The Nuggets were dominant in last season’s play-offs before a 4-1 victory over the Miami Heat gave the city its first NBA title. In Nikola Jokic they have the reigning finals MVP and unofficial best player in the world. Jokic was mesmeric in the run to the finals putting up scarcely believable stat lines.

The Joker is not just a great individual player, he makes his teammates better and Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jnr and Aaron Gordon have all benefited from playing with him. Murray was also exceptional last season and his two-man game with Jokic was unstoppable.

This season the Nuggets are without Bruce Brown Jnr who gave them valuable minutes off the bench, but he is their only minus from last season. They are running it back and it will be interesting to see if they can get even better.

Phoenix Suns @ 8.2

The Suns are an incredibly exciting offensive prospect. A team with Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal is never going to be short of points. 

Mortgage mogul Matt Ishbia, finalised his deal to become owner of the Suns just before last season’s trade deadline New owner syndrome took hold early as he forced through a trade for Kevin Durant, a 14-times All Star and two-time Finals MVP and NBA Champion. 

The Suns issues with squad depth have been partly resolved as they traded away Deandre Ayton, but brought in Grayson Allen, Jusuf Nurkic and Eric Gordon. The big issue facing the Suns is at the defensive end of the floor. They are going to just try to outscore teams which - considering the talent they have - is not a bad idea. 

To help with the defence they have brought in Frank Vogel as their new coach. Vogel won the 2020 NBA Championship with the LA Lakers in a team that had a very impressive defensive record.

Los Angeles Lakers @ 14.5

The Lakers were incredibly poor in the first half of last season before LeBron James returned from injury to supercharge their season. Austin Reaves was the emerging star of last season for the Lakers and he is back again this year. When they had Reaves, LeBron and Anthony Davis on the floor together the Lakers were a serious threat.

Last season, they reached the Western Conference Finals beating the Memphis Grizzlies and the Golden State Warriors before being swept by Jokic and the Nuggets. They have added some good players in the off-season; Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish and Christian Wood will all help strengthen the overall rotation. 

The big question marks come around the fitness of both Lebron and Davis, without either one of the two stars playing it is hard to imagine the Lakers offering much. LeBron is entering his 21st year in the league and at age 38 he certainly isn’t getting any younger, it will be interesting to see how long he can sustain such a high level of performance for.

My Tip

Barring injuries I think that we are likely to see a finals involving either Boston or Milwaukee and Denver. For me the Nuggets have the edge over both of these teams, they have the experience and confidence which comes from winning a first title and I fancy them to be the first team in five years to go back-to-back. At 6.6 they slot in nicely as third favourite.

Who is going to be the MVP?

Nikola Jokic @ 4.5

The Joker’s performances in last season’s play-offs elevated him to the title of world’s best player. The Serbian centre won the final's MVP and became the first NBA player in history to lead a single postseason in points, assists and rebounds. 

Having won the regular season MVP in both 2021 and 2022, he finished runner up to Joel Embid last season. This was largely as a result of voter fatigue and Jokic and the Nuggets easing off towards the end of the regular season. 

If the Nuggets and Jokic have another successful season, it is hard to see past him winning his third MVP.

Luka Doncic @ 5.3

Since he entered the league at 18, Doncic has been on the path to greatness. The Slovenian guard has produced dazzling play-off performances which has seen him destroy teams single handedly. Just ask the 2022 Phoenix Suns. 

Last season, Doncic hit a bump in the road as his side failed to get into the play-offs and a partnership with Kyrie Irving failed to really spark. Now 24, Doncic is starting to get to the age where going deep into the play-offs is a necessity for a player of his talent. 

He is yet to win the regular season MVP, but if he can work out how to play with Irving and the Dallas Mavericks can improve their defence he is in with a shot.

Giannis Antetokounmpo - 5.7

Like Jokic, Giannis is a two-time winner of this award. The Greek Freak has been joined in Milwaukee by Dame Lillard. As I mentioned earlier, the offensive ability of Lillard both from outside the arc and driving to the hoop will clear more room for Giannis.

He was embarrassed last season, as his one-seeded Bucks crashed out in the first round of the playoffs to the eight seed, Miami Heat. While his dominating physical presence can never be denied, his shaky jumpshot and problems at the free-throw line have held him back for the last two seasons. If he can get back to the player he was when the Bucks won the title in 2021, the rest of the league is in trouble.

Joel Embiid @ 7.2

Embiid is the reigning MVP and having finished runner up to Jokic in the two years previous, you would think he is a decent bet. The last two winners of the award - Giannis and Jokic - have both gone back-to-back as well.

But Embid’s Philadelphia 76ers appear to be in turmoil as fellow star James Harden has repeatedly asked for a trade and labelled GM Daryl Morey a liar. 

They were dumped out of the play-offs in the second round last year by the Celtics and I can see the lack of post-season success really hurting Embiid's chances of going back-to-back. There can be no questioning his individual talent, but with an increasingly strong Eastern Conference, I would be stunned if he managed to win again.

Jayson Tatum @ 7.2

Tatum has been hovering around the top five players in the NBA conversation for the past two years and he is now ready to make the leap. He has the ability and skill set to start to dominate the league, he also has the team around him to help. 

The Celtics are going to be really good again this year thanks to the additions of Holiday and Porzingis, so given his odds Tatum is a good bet.

My Tip 

It is incredibly rare that the MVP goes to a player who is not part of one of the best teams in the league. For this reason, I would avoid backing Embiid or Doncic because I am uncertain of their team’s fortunes. Jokic, Tatum and Giannis are, injuries aside, going to be part of the best teams in the league so this makes them all good bets. I agree with the market and see Jokic as the most likely winner, but if you are looking for something with higher potential return, Tatum is a really good bet.

Who is going to be the Rookie of the Year?

Victor Wembenyama @ 1.63

The 7ft 4in Frenchman comes into the NBA as the most hyped prospect since LeBron James entered the league back in 2003. He looks like a generational talent, not only because of his height, but because of his skill set which has never been seen before for a player of his size. As a no.1 pick he found his way to the San Antonio Spurs and under the watchful gaze of legendary coach Gregg Popovich.

He already looks like a strong jump shooter and his handle is looking increasingly tight. He will be a nightmare for teams on the defensive end as well. His height and wing-span will give him exceptional shot-blocking ability. The NBA is a narrative league and they have already pegged Wemby as their next star, therefore it is hard to look past him for this award.

Scoot Henderson @ 3.15

In most other years, Scoot would probably have been the no.1 draft pick. The 6ft 2in guard has landed at the Portland Trailblazers and with Lillard gone he will be handed the keys to the franchise. 

Having come up through the G League, Henderson has been incredibly impressive in the summer league and pre-season. He looks like he is set to be a real star in this league.

Chet Holmgren @ 3.5

Unlike Henderson and Wembenyama, Holmgren was in last season’s draft but an injury meant he is yet to set foot on an NBA court.

He is a 7ft 1in forward who has a similar build and skill set to Wembenyama, unlike the other two Chet is going to play for a team that is already good. The Oklahoma City Thunder reached the play-offs this year and with Chet are likely to be even better. If the voters choose to pick the player who has the best season as a team, Holmgren is in a really strong position.

My Tip

I think barring an injury it is hard to see anyone getting it over Wembenyama and the markets agree with an incredibly short price. If you are looking for value I would probably look at Holmgren because OKC are going to have a good year.

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