Welcome back to Futures Friday!
Every week I’ll dive into futures to play based on where the value is at that point in the season. Each week we’ll make plays based on distributing a half-unit of value. Over the course of a season, it’ll add up to a sizable position.
On Oct. 22, I wrote we should get in on Stephen Curry to lead the league in scoring at +600. Curry took the lead Thursday night. Last week we were on Draymond Green Defensive Player of the Year at +2000, it’s already down to +1000.
Here are the futures bets I’m eying as we near the end of the fourth week of the season. For last week’s edition, click here.
Western Conference Winner: Los Angeles Lakers (+440, FanDuel) 0.10u | Phoenix Suns (+700, BetMGM) 0.20u | Golden State Warriors (+375, Caesars) 0.10u
That’s right, we’re going three-way for the Western title.
Again, we’re buying at the best positions we find based on results, and in the Western Conference, we have some wild variations in numbers. I’m adding to my pre-existing Warriors positions and adding the Suns and Lakers for the first time.
If the Suns win, just on this position alone, barring other bets (and we have some Warriors futures to pay off as well), we’d come out +1.2 units. With the Warriors, we come out +0.75u, and with the Lakers, we come out +0.14.
This is the first Lakers bet we’re making. The Lakers were shorter than +250 at a lot of books for the title outright, let alone the conference title before the season began. Even now, the Lakers are +280 at Caesars, so getting them at +440 is a steal in value.
Yes, the defense looks ragged, Russell Westbrook is bricking it up and turning it over and Anthony Day-To-Davis looks bad more than he looks good. But we’re betting this before LeBron James (likely) returns on Friday night, and the combination of Davis and James has been consistently destroying teams for the past three years when they’re both healthy.
The Lakers still match up well with teams like the Denver Nuggets, L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks. They were ahead in the Suns series before the injuries hit, and while I still think Phoenix has some matchup advantages, the Lakers would likely not be dogs in such a series past the first round.
I’m not even especially high on the Lakers because of how bad their defense looks, but those are things they can fix with rotation tweaks, getting everyone back healthy, and time. More than anything, I’m getting a team that was +225 at some books to win the title at +440 to win their conference, a great hedge spot if it comes to that.
The Suns warrant a bet of this size out of our position. They rank ninth in adjusted net rating, with the eighth best defense and 17th-best adjusted offense because shots still haven’t started falling.
They are wrecking bad teams right now, having started the season off 6-1 vs. teams under .500. That was a weakness for them last year.
What does that have to do with the playoffs?
Well, smashing bad teams gets you regular-season wins, which gets you homecourt and easier matchups. If the Suns can slip by the Warriors and Lakers by season’s end, they can grab a No. 1 seed and leave tougher teams battling in the 2-3.
We’re a long way from that, but we’re also getting 7-1 conference odds for a team that has shown out of the gate that Chris Paul is still the Point God (leading the league in assists) and that it can still defend at a high level. This locks us into a +700 hedge position later if they run into a team in the playoffs that we think will win the whole thing as a dog.
With the Warriors, we’re just tacking on. We’ll be adding to this, trust me. We already bet Warriors-Bucks Finals matchup and Warriors division title. Now let’s move into playoff odds before those shorten more as well. Golden State is the favorite at some books.
You can definitely counter by saying I’m not buying this at the best price. Golden State is coming off its biggest win of the season vs. the Brooklyn Nets, and haven’t hit a. any schedule woes or b. any injury issues yet. But when that dip comes, we’ll be right back here buying in.
We’re buying the Lakers dip, getting in on the Suns before that value shortens, and with the Warriors, we want to just keep picking up chunks as long as Curry and Green are healthy.
Montrezl Harrell Sixth Man of the Year (+1200, BetRivers) 0.1u
We grabbed Tyler Herro, the prohibitive favorite as +200 two weeks ago, that’s already moved into minus territory at some books. We bet Carmelo Anthony, he’s moved from +2000 to +1000 already, making him prime cash out value down the line.
Spoiler alert: I’m probably buying more Herro stock at some point, but I had to grab this. Harrell is averaging the third-most points of any sixth man, the fifth-most rebounds, and 1.5 stocks (steals and blocks per game). I never thought I’d say this … but Trezz really has been great defensively this season.
He’s making a real impact: he’s fourth in PER, sixth in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP), fourth in Win Shares, and fifth in Box Plus-Minus.
Typically this award just goes to the highest scoring guard off the bench, and Herro is that, easily. He’s at 20 points per game, shooting 46% from the field and 42% from behind the arc.
Two things … First, the Heat have already been banged up. If anyone misses significant time, Herro’s going to wind up starting. He’s already started 27% of his games this season (4-of-15).
If Kyle Lowry or Jimmy Butler (neither are spring chickens) miss a chunk of time, Herro winds up starting and will be ineligible. Second, the gap for him to fall back to the pack isn’t as wide as it was. Some regression is likely.
Now, the Wizards might crash back to earth as well. They are coming off back-to-back losses and Harrell started for injured Daniel Gafford Thursday. When Thomas Bryant comes back, Harrell’s minutes may be impacted.
But given the makeup of the Wizards and the usage opportunities for Harrell combined with his stellar effort, he’s worth of this small play to combine with our other sixth Man plays.