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.
Here are the futures bets I’m eying as we near the end of the fourth week of the season. For the most recent edition, click here and full a the full list of best I’ve made so far this season, check out this chart.
Montrezl Harrell Sixth Man of the Year +1400 (DraftKings, 0.20u) | Tyler Herro Sixth Man of the Year -140 (DraftKings, 0.12u)
We’re more than than a quarter through the season, and the Wizards are still 14-8. So they check the winning box right now.
Harrell has absolutely coasted under the radar for his contributions. The most important number when it comes to Sixth Man is, depressingly, points per game. It should be so much more, but it historically is not, it’s just points per game.
You’re targeting someone around 19 points per game, and Harrell is below that. The only player who crosses that threshold is Herro, who we bet several weeks ago at +200. He’s now the odds on favorite across the board.
However, two things to consider with Herro. One, he’s banged up and has been in and out of the lineup. Two, the Heat are cooling down, and the Heat are just 8-6 when Herro comes off the bench. He’s already played five games as a starter and with the age and injury situations for this team, he may play more.
Plus, Duncan Robinson is broken right now, shooting 31.8% on 3-pointers. Moving Robinson to the bench to help him regain his confidence could come, and that ticks off more games if Herro is selected to start over Max Strus.
Meanwhile, here’s Harrell: 17 points, 8 boards, 2 assists, 1.2 stocks (steals and blocks) per game, shooting 66% from the field.
So we’re almost there in terms of the scoring threshold we want. The Wizards are also +6.1 in Net Rating with Harrell on-court and -6.4 in Net Rating with him on the bench. The Heat are worse with Herro on-court than the Wizards with Harrell (+5.4) and better with him on the bench (+1.7).
Harrell is also 27th in EPM, second-highest for a bench player behind Gary Payton Jr., sixth in Box Plus-Minus and fourth in Win Shares. Those numbers rarely translate to Sixth Man votes but there’s always a chance the voters actually consider more than just points for the first time ever with this award.
Harrell has won the award before as well.
So we’re taking Harrell at 14-1 and hedging our bet with adding to Herro’s position. If Harrell falls off, we’ll add more to Herro even at a steep minus number in the coming weeks. But I want to get in now in the event that the Heat make a lineup change or injuries force their hand.
Cleveland Cavaliers to Make Playoffs +500 (DraftKings, 0.18u)
Cleveland is 12-10 with the eighth-best adjusted Net Rating according to DunksAndThrees.com despite having played the sixth-toughest schedule so far, including the fourth toughest defensive schedule (meaning they’ve faced great offenses).
They lost Collin Sexton and have maintained their strong play. They were without all three of their bigs (Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, Lauri Markkanen) for multiple games, and have sustained.
Let’s look at the teams below Cleveland who might be better than the Cavs:
Hawks: OK, probably better.
Celtics: This is definitely a coin flip. Boston has talent but are wildly inconsistent and Jaylen Brown’s injury issues are a problem.
Hornets: 27th in adjusted defensive rating and sliding.
Knicks: 16th in adjusted offense, 23rd in adjusted defense, already had to bench Kemba Walker.
Philadelphia 76ers: Who knows?!
Now, of the teams above them in the East, the Wizards are still a candidate for regression (though that would hurt our Harrell bet). Miami’s injury issues may reach critical mass if they have anything else significant.
There is an outside chance they win the playoff spot outright. But if they’re in the play-in, they’ll be live vs. most of the teams they’d face, and it would provide a hedge-out opportunity.
Their implied odds here are 16.67%. Is there a 2-in-10 chance that the Cavs either win a playoff spot outright or win a play-in spot? Cleveland’s resume simply doesn’t suggest that they’re fools gold, which I would need to ignore 5-1 return for a team top-six after a quarter of the season.