The Celtics, Nets, and Bucks are making room for a fourth high-end contender at the top of BetMGM’s NBA championship odds table.
There isn’t much room for big shifts in the NBA odds market once the season is three months underway. Still, one team has made a significant jump up the table over the last month: the Denver Nuggets.
One month ago, the Nuggets were 13-to-1 NBA contenders that were firmly in the hey, don’t forget about them! tier of teams. In jumping to +800, Denver leapfrogged three of the last four teams to play in the Western Conference Finals: the Suns, Warriors, and Clippers.
Farther down the table, two West Coast teams are impressing bettors enough to upgrade their betting position. One is a traditional NBA power; the other hasn’t made the playoffs in 16 years.
Don’t Mess With Denver
One of the biggest NBA stories of January has been the ascension of the Denver Nuggets as a true championship contender. Boston (+400), Milwaukee (+550) and Brooklyn (+800) have seen no net change in their NBA title odds over the last 31 days, but Denver (+800) surged up the table after a strong January.
The big move also crowns Denver as the betting favorite in the Western Conference. The Nuggets are +350 to win the West; Golden State is +375, and the aspiring Grizzlies are +400.
The Nuggets have taken over first place in the West thanks in part to the outstanding play from Nikola Jokic, who has become the favorite (+110) in the NBA MVP odds market at BetMGM.
Jokic averaged 24 points and 11.6 rebounds on 68% shooting in January, and his 11.3 assists per game was the best mark of any player in the NBA.
As a team, the Nuggets were 12-4 in January. No other team won more than 11 games.
Suns, Clippers Slide Down Table
When one team makes a big jump, there is typically a commensurate fall from someone else on the other side. As the Nuggets have become the darling of the West, bettors are cooling on two teams that entered the season with high expectations: the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Even casual NBA fans understand why the ceiling with the Clippers (+1400) is so high. Paul George is a six-time All-NBA selection, and Kawhi Leonard is a two-time NBA Finals MVP. Both players have been selected First-Team All-Defense for multiple years. The supporting cast is impressive, and Ty Lue is a championship-caliber coach.
Smart bettors want a high ceiling when buying a championship ticket, and few NBA teams can match what the Clippers have in that department.
Unfortunately, too many bettors see the Clippers as damaged goods. Since Leonard and George joined forces as Clippers teammates prior to the 2019 season, the pair have played just 101 games together. They’re both healthy now, but will that last deep into the playoffs?
As for the Suns (+1600), no one knows exactly what the problem is, but metrics are down across the board from previous seasons. The offense has been less efficient turning the ball over more than last season (14.2 this season vs.12.4 in 2020-21).
If the season ended now, Phoenix would host a game in the Play-In Tournament.
Grizzlies, 76ers Offer Value
For NBA bettors hunting for modest value in the table, Philadelphia (+1200) and Memphis (+1100) can provide some.
The Grizzlies – currently two games behind red-hot Denver – remain very much in play for the No. 1 seed in the West. Ja Morant leads a team that’s young and athletic, but also one with minimal postseason success or experience.
The 76ers are the only team that might have posted a better January than the Nuggets and appear to be rounding into playoff form with the All-Star Break on the horizon. Joel Embiid is posting monster numbers, leading all scorers in January with 34.9 points per game. He’s right behind Jokic in the MVP odds table.
Memphis could be a slightly better ticket to hold, simply because there’s less top-end playoff traffic in the West this year. Still, if you’re willing to take a chance on a team that hasn’t really proven anything yet, Philadelphia and Memphis offer the best blend of talent and value.
Lakers Remain Relevant
Nobody in an LA jersey will be head-over-heels about the 9-7 record that the Lakers posted in January, but the Lake Show is headed in the right direction.
Los Angeles acquired former Wizards forward Rui Hachimura for cheap, and LeBron James remains an incredible offensive presence. Anthony Davis returned to the court last week after missing several weeks with a foot injury.
The Lakers were 100-to-1 in the championship market a month ago, but signs of life in Los Angeles have halved that number to +5000. Like the Clippers, this is an undoubtedly flawed team, but one whose best two players provide an incredibly high ceiling if they can stay healthy.
Respect for the Kings
Yes, it would indeed be pretty shocking if the Sacramento Kings (+8000) won this year’s NBA championship. The Kings, after all, haven’t even made the postseason since clinching the No. 8 seed all the way back in 2006. The 16-year playoff stretch is, by far, the longest drought of any active NBA franchise.
But Sacramento has fielded a strong team this season and are poised to snap the streak. In fact, the Kings may even be on track to host a first-round playoff series because the West is more top-heavy than usual. If the season ended right now, the Kings would be the No. 3 seed in the West.
The Kings have zero muscle memory as a playoff team, so it’s hard to envision an epic championship run through the playoffs this spring. Still, there’s a case to be made that the Kings are the most underpriced team in the entire NBA championship odds market.
Any team on track to host at least one playoff series probably shouldn’t be 150-to-1 – which is exactly where the Kings were at the start of January.
Eventually, bettors caught on to the fact that Sacramento is a legitimately good team, and the number has moved down accordingly. Still, if the Kings have a playoff run in them, then this +8000 price still has a lot of movement left in it.
You can view updated NBA championship odds and more online sports betting opportunities at the BetMGM online sportsbook.