The 2023-24 NBA season is upon us, and before things tip off Tuesday, we asked our betting experts about their best bets and favorite futures picks for the season ahead.
Erin Dolan, Andre Snellings, Eric Moody, Eric Karabell, Jim McCormick and Steve Alexander provide the bets they are making this season.
Note: All odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook as of Oct. 22.
What are your favorite bets to make on teams to win the Western Conference?
The Lakers made it to the Western Conference finals last season, yet find themselves fourth in the Western Conference odds market. I’ll happily play the Lakers +700 to win the West. Rob Pelinka brought back all the key pieces acquired at the deadline last year that spurred their late-season surge. L.A. also added G Gabe Vincent from Miami and big man Christian Wood as some depth behind Anthony Davis. This team is still led by LeBron James. As long as he’s playing, his team is capable of winning it all. Great value on the Lakers. — Fulghum
The Lakers (+700) are a great value. Post-trade deadline, Los Angeles played like a completely different team and reached the Western Conference finals. LeBron James is still a very capable player despite being 38 years old, and Anthony Davis is one of the best big men in the game. In the offseason, the Lakers upgraded their role players, with Gabe Vincent being a significant addition. In what will most likely be James’ last chance to win a championship, Los Angeles enters this season with improved shooting and adequate depth in the wide-open Western Conference. — Moody
Denver Nuggets (+245). This is both chalky and boring, but until someone knocks them from their throne, I think it makes sense to roll with them. Nikola Jokic is the most effective player in the game, and Denver is deep with guys like Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Jackson, Christian Braun, Justin Holiday and Zeke Nnaji. It’s not exciting, but I’ll take the Nuggets here. — Alexander
Golden State Warriors (+600). The Warriors still have their winning core of Steph, Klay and Draymond, along with their winning coach Steve Kerr. Very veteran Chris Paul joining the crew feels like a Ray Bourque move to me, as a future Hall of Famer finally gets his ring before retirement. It doesn’t even matter how good Golden State plays during the regular season. Come playoff time, as always, watch out. — Karabell
Los Angeles Lakers (+700). I picked a Lakers vs Nuggets rematch as the Western Conference Finals, and I think this time the Lakers will have a better chance to win. The Lakers, last season, were so far behind after a slow start to the season with their mismatched lineup that they had to go on a 3-month-long sprint of winning to even make the WCF. They were clearly one of the two best teams in the West last season after the trades, and this offseason they retained their primary players and added even more depth. While the Nuggets are a solid choice to repeat, the Lakers are right there and picking them offers much more juice than going chalk. — Snellings
The Memphis Grizzlies (+1200) broke out before many expected; an elite blend of transition efficiency and depth took a hit not just with injuries and free agency, but also Ja Morant‘s off-court issues. Then again, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. are ascending and in their pre-primes, Morant returns after a third of the season, and Marcus Smart brings veteran leadership alongside Dillon Brooks‘ gamesmanship. Wasn’t this the emergent team of this era, prior to Morant’s suspension? Yes it was. I don’t know why my peers are confident about an aging — if revamped — Lakers rotation over a far younger team with at least three true rising young stars. In addition to the Grizz, the LA Clippers (+1200) are my other favorite pick for the West. I have bet this outcome firmly trusting the “Beard” will soon be back home in Los Angeles, where he learned to become a key playmaker. The risk is real, but the payoff is clear, with the Clippers positioning a consolidated core of stardom via the Sixers’ drama. Lest we forget, few teams have the ceiling of a “healthy” Kawhi collective. — McCormick
What are your favorite bets to make on teams to win the Eastern Conference?
It’s not flashy nor are the odds fun but I think the Celtics (+175) are nearly a lock to win the East. The addition of Jrue Holiday to Boston and taking him out of the equation in Milwaukee should put the Celtics in the driver’s seat. The Pacers (+12,500) seem to have a perfect combination of youth and veterans, and I could see Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner, Bennedict Mathurin, Bruce Brown, Buddy Hield & Co. shocking the world. Might be a fun way to spend $10. — Alexander
Milwaukee Bucks (+160). The Bucks have had a very successful offseason, and I find myself drawn to them as a moth to a flame. The Bucks fired coach Mike Budenholzer after getting swept by the Heat, and at that time, Antetokounmpo wasn’t happy with the direction of the team. The Greek Freak’s frown turned into a smile when Milwaukee traded for Damian Lillard, one of the best scoring guards in the league. The Knicks (+1600) have one of their best rosters in decades if you are looking for a long shot with legitimacy in the East. New York boasts a strong bench and is guided by an experienced head coach in Tom Thibodeau. The Knicks are also led by one of the league’s premier point guards in Jalen Brunson, who averaged career highs in points, assists, steals and triples last season. — Moody
The obvious one to me is Miami (+1200), because they always seem to find a way to overachieve, having won the East in two of the past four seasons. How about the odds on the Raptors (+6000)? It makes it seem like they may be a lottery team, but I think this team can knock off one of the top East squads in the playoffs, with Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes and an underrated defensive unit. The Raptors looked good with Jakob Poeltl at center. Now they have him all season. Anyone can take the Celtics/Bucks. Be bold! — Karabell
Milwaukee Bucks (+160). The Bucks’ trade for Damian Lillard was somewhat reminiscent of the deal that brought Kevin Garnett to the Celtics in 2007, in the sense of a hungry long-time NBA star getting the opportunity to play for a contender. Way back then, Garnett was the MVP that made the team true contenders, whereas this time Lillard joins arguably the best player in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo. I think the pairing meshes perfectly and revitalizes Antetkounmpo, who has struggled with injuries, as has his main lieutenant, Khris Middleton, over the past two seasons. While the Celtics look formidable as well, I think a healthy Bucks team is the class of the league. — Snellings
Philadelphia 76ers (+800). The Sixers finally have this thing called a modern coach; they also have an ascendant Kentucky guard talent in Tyrese Maxey and this Embiid dude who won the MVP. Is this a ridiculous outcome to consider? Of course, but my ability to emotionally hedge is historic. That said, I love Nick Nurse’s attacking defensive scheme and how it suddenly aligns with the likes of Paul Reed, Jaden Springer, and even Mo Bamba and Embiid. The 76ers were third in net rating last season even amid a post-prime James Harden; this isn’t as unrealistic as it sounds. — McCormick
What are your favorite bets to make on teams to win the NBA championship?
I can’t quit the new-look Boston Celtics (+380) and I think the defense of Jrue Holiday may push them over the edge this season. Peyton Pritchard has looked good in the preseason and it will be a luxury for them to bring a guy like Al Horford off the bench. He’s as old as they come (37) but has proven to still be effective when he’s on the court. The key to the whole thing might be the health of Kristaps Porzingis, who should be more effective as a fourth-scoring option than an alpha player as he’s been in the past. I just wish the odds were a little more enticing. — Alexander
Phoenix Suns (+600). Phoenix brought in highly regarded coach Frank Vogel with a championship résumé, who has also assembled an exceptional staff. He has the most formidable trio in the league in Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal. The Suns also have enough role players on the roster for Vogel to create defensive rotations that can help Phoenix close out games, which will be crucial for the team to make a playoff run to the Finals. With so much talent, the Suns can compete with any team in the league. — Moody
Cleveland Cavaliers (+3000). The Cavs are somehow an afterthought in the wake of a first-round flame-out, but does anyone remember that they had the No. 1 defense, No. 8 offense and finished No. 2 in net rating last year? With plus odds to secure the conference, the Cavs are almost obvious by statistical standards to take another step. Net rating has been predictive of long-term success above having a singularly good offense or defense, of which this team had both last season. Have we mentioned no one on this roster is near the end of their prime and that Evan Mobley is about to become a superstar? Good times. — McCormick
Milwaukee Bucks (+400). The Giannis/Lillard combo projects to be the most unstoppable offensive duo in the NBA, with both able to warp opposing defenses in opposing directions. Giannis forces opposing defenses to build the wall around the rim to slow his dominant drives, but Lillard is the most dangerous threat from distance this side of Stephen Curry. Together, they force opponents to pick their poison. And if Middleton is healthy, he gives them a third offensive engine in addition to strong role players. And none of this speaks on the defenses, where Giannis and Brook Lopez are both Defensive Player of the Year candidates that should anchor another strong unit. Again, if they stay reasonably healthy, I think they are the best team in the NBA this season. — Snellings
If I want to play it safe, the Denver Nuggets (+420) still seem like the best bet to escape the West. Denver brought back most of its team, and young players such as Christian Braun and Julian Strawther should contribute. — Karabell
What are your favorite OVER or UNDER bets to make on team win totals?
San Antonio Spurs OVER 29.5 wins. This may be one of the top defensive clubs now with Victor Wembanyama blocking everything, and the move to Jeremy Sochan as a point forward is significant. The Spurs win at least 35 games.
Meanwhile, the Raptors (36.5 wins) and Jazz (35.5 wins) are playoff teams, so take each over there. No, really. Each will win at least half their games.
As for a few under picks, the Pelicans (43.5 wins, take the under) is predicated on Zion Williamson staying healthy. Good luck there. And Memphis (43.5 wins, go under) is without Ja Morant for 25 games and C Steven Adams is out for the season. They may not win half their games. — Karabell
Denver Nuggets OVER 52.5 wins (-110). The Nuggets won 53 games last season, but they were significantly better than a 53-win team. They had the top-seed all-but-locked up in March, and their MVP Nikola Jokic didn’t play more than 27 minutes in any game after March 27 (missing five outright) with the Nuggets coasting home at 2 – 5 down the stretch. The Nuggets then went on to rampage through the playoffs with a 16 – 3 record indicative of the type of dominance they’re capable of. This season, the West should be more challenging, causing the Nuggets to have to stay focused and play closer to their level for longer into the season. Which should send them comfortably over 52.5 wins, health allowing. — Snellings
Milwaukee Bucks win total OVER 54.5 total wins (+100). The Bucks are tied with the Celtics for the highest win total posted for the upcoming season. That makes sense considering Milwaukee and Boston were the only two teams to have over 55 wins last season. The Bucks had an impressive 58 regular season wins last season with Giannis playing 63 regular season games and Khris Middleton playing 33 regular season games. Now the Bucks add NBA super star Damian Lillard to the lineup, who averaged a career high 32 points per game in Portland. Milwaukee is a good team in the regular season, hitting over 54.5 wins in 3 of the last 5 seasons. The team will be working with new head coach Adrian Griffin and the Bucks have one of the oldest rosters in the league, but there is enough talent to hit over 54.5 wins at even money. — Dolan
Philadelphia 76ers UNDER 48.5 wins (-115). Let’s face it, there is a lot of uncertainty in the City of Brotherly Love right now. There’s a messy divorce going on between James Harden and the 76ers. A rumor is circulating about Joel Embiid wanting to be traded. Even if they stay on the team by some miracle, both have robust injury histories. They were also terrible at rebounding last season, which isn’t good in an Eastern Conference with players like Clint Capela, Julius Randle, and Antetokounmpo. The 76ers didn’t do enough to fix the problem even with the addition of Mo Bamba. There’s a strong chance Philadelphia underperforms. — Moody
The Spurs won 22 games last season and then added once-in-a-lifetime prospect Victor Wembanyama to their roster. Can he add 8+ wins this season? I’m guessing he can, especially under the guidance of Gregg Popovich.
The Magic won 36 games last season, led by NBA Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero. Around him, the Magic have a solid group of players like the Wagner twins, Wendell Carter, Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony, and Markelle Fultz. If Jonathan Isaac can FINALLY stay healthy enough to contribute consistent minutes, this could be a team that wins 40+ and earns a 7 or 8 seed in the East.
The Blazers have embraced the full tank and dealt away Dame Lillard (and Jusuf Nurkic). The Western Conference is absolutely LOADED with playoff caliber teams. The worst teams in this conference are going to struggle big time to win games this season and I believe Portland could be the worst of the bunch. They’ll be fun to watch with Shaedon Sharpe and Scoot Henderson, but winning games won’t happen often. — Fulghum
Dallas Mavericks UNDER 43.5 (-115). I don’t see how the Mavs are going to win 44 games with both Luka Doncic (calf) and Kyrie Irving (groin) already gimpy, combined with them having a lackluster crew to pass the ball to, led by Grant Williams who came over from Boston. The Mavs’ depth chart is a mess and I just don’t see how Luka and Irving can get to 44 wins all by themselves in a tough Western Conference. The Pacers over 38.5 (-135) wins is enticing as I love their combination of youth and experience, along with having Tyrese Haliburton leading the way. They’re going to make a little noise in the East this year and if they can keep Buddy Hield happy and effective, all the better. — Alexander
Memphis Grizzlies OVER 43.5. This just feels like a free square: the drama around Morant isn’t as costly as it feels. That’s a bold statement but it’s also wild to me that the Timberwolves have a higher implied outcome than this roster. I keep going back to net rating, but, hey, it’s a measure of margins over a marathon, and Memphis was No. 4 amid tumult last season. Desmond Bane is about to be an All-Star (bet that one, too), while Jaren Jackson Jr. has every factor repeat as DPOY (hey, another bet). Why is this team so disrespected in a division rife with youth and turnover? — McCormick
Indiana Pacers OVER 38.5. Rick Carlise propelled a young Luka Doncic-led Dallas Mavericks team to the best offense ever (at the time) and then aided Tyrese Haliburton to, you guessed it, Doncic-like efficiency. The difference? This team has dudes who play defense, and Myles Turner (+5000) might just be an elite call to take over on that end. In a fluid East, this team has the juice. — McCormick
Are there any player props you feel very strongly about?
Jabari Smith is going to become a far more efficient, explosive scorer, and may average 18 PPG. His Most Improved Player odds (+2200) are too low. Also, since the Wizards’ Jordan Poole is going to score a ton, look for new PG Tyus Jones to pile on the assists. Could he lead the league (+2500)? Why not? And I think Wembenyama has a legitimate shot at Defensive Player of the Year award (+1500). He and Chet Holmgren (+1800) are underrated. — Karabell
Jordan Poole over 25.0 PPG (-130); Desmond Bane over 22.5 points (-115). Poole averaged 24.6 PPG in 43 starts with the Warriors last season, including 27.9 PPG during an 11-game stretch from December 16 through January 7, the first time Stephen Curry was sidelined for an extended stretch. Poole has outrageous volume-scoring potential on a Wizards team lacking scorers or the disciplined structure he operated under with the Warriors.
Bane flashed his scoring upside last season when, after a slow start, he went on a nine-game span averaging 28.0 PPG on 52.4 FG%. Immediately after, he injured his toe and missed the next 17 games. He returned and played the rest of the season, but was slowed until he got the toe surgically repaired in May. This season, Bane returns healthy and is going to be the primary scoring option for the Grizzlies for at least the first 25 games of the season while Ja Morant is suspended. He has legitimate 25 PPG upside. — Snellings
Jayson Tatum is going to lead the league in scoring (+750). The ball-hoggy characteristics of Marcus Smart aren’t inherent in Jrue Holiday’s process. Beyond that, Tatum paced the entire league in total points last season and is already adding foul-drawing savvy to his volume-driven scoring profile. Have we mentioned that he’s 25 and a top-five scorer? What a good number on a very possible outcome. — McCormick
Chet Holmgren Rookie of the Year (+350). Holmgren is going to average two blocks and over a 3-pointer made per game, which right away puts him in the Manute Bol tier of unicorns. Then again, he’s also going to challenge for playmaking and scoring production. Let’s also consider the rich history (Blake Griffin, Ben Simmons) of dudes who took home trophies after a red-shirt rookie runway. — McCormick
Victor Wembanyama +450 to lead the league in blocks. This one is very intriguing to me, especially after watching him running the court and blocking shots from all angles all over the court. He has an eight-foot wingspan, isn’t scared of the spotlight and, so far, is living up to the tremendous hype that has accompanied him to the NBA. It may be tough for him to beat guys like Jaren Jackson Jr., Chet Holmgren and Walker Kessler, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulls it off. — Alexander
LaMelo Ball scoring average over 8.5 assists (-125). Every season, Ball has increased the number of assists he averages per game. The Hornets had one of the worst records in the league, but history won’t repeat itself this season. With Miles Bridge back, Mark Williams following up his breakout season, and Brandon Miller drafted with the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft, Ball could operate more a facilitator rather than as a playmaker. Averaging 8.5 assists per game last season, Ball is well positioned to meet or exceed this mark this year. — Moody
Walker Kessler rebounding average over 11.0 rebounds per game (+110). Kessler is the Jazz’s undisputed center this season. The rookie played well last season, especially after the All-Star Break, when he got into the starting lineup. Kessler averaged 10.8 rebounds per game last season. In this offseason, the Jazz drafted Taylor Hendricks and also added John Collins, both of whom should get plenty of playing time. Both are not true centers, which benefits Kessler. — Moody
Jordan Poole regular season scoring leader (+2500). Poole is going to feast with the Wizards this season. Over the past eight months, the Wizards have experienced numerous roster changes. Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, who each accumulated a high number of field attempts, are no longer on the team. Only Kyle Kuzma will command a high usage rate on the Wizards roster. During the last two seasons, Poole averaged 22.5 points per game when starting for the Warriors. With the Wizards, he’s going to be provided with many field goal attempts, so he’s very likely to surpass that number. — Moody