I’ve had to keep myself busy over the offseason by making a few antepost selections for the upcoming NBA season. These selections are intended to help keep interest during any barren periods I may (or hopefully may not!) have during the season.
Most of these are pretty speculative, hence the juicy prices. I’ve sourced the best prices as best as I could, but let me know in the comments if you find them bigger elsewhere. These selections will focus on the individual player awards up for grabs at the end of the 2018-19 NBA season.
Anyway, take your pick and join me on some of these if you fancy it!
LeBron James – 9/2 with Skybet
This one doesn’t need too much explaining if you follow the sport at all. However, it’s not quite as cut and dry as LeBron being undoubtedly the best player in the league today (and arguably of all time) – he has been this for a long time, yet hasn’t been voted Most Valuable Player since the 2012-13 season. This has been down to two main factors:
- Voter fatigue due to him being so good for so long that it’s no longer considered exceptional by his standards – there just isn’t the narrative other winners have had.
- His regular seasons (what the award is judged on) have not been as impressive as his dominant postseasons.
However, this coming season will see James move from the safe haven of the Eastern Conference to join the more competitive West along with joining it’s most storied franchise: the Los Angeles Lakers. There will be no lack of narrative this year, shortly after the King’s arrival a mural sprung up in LA dedicated to James becoming a Laker player. But what made the mural hit the headlines was that it was quickly vandalised by fans who see Kobe Bryant as the real ‘King of LA’. The Mural has since been repainted back to its original state, vandalised again, and finally completely painted over by the artist. All this, months before LeBron even dons the infamous purple and gold for the first time, only helps strengthen his MVP narrative.
LeBron having to compete with the league’s best on a nightly basis, dragging the Lakers to their first postseason in six seasons, all whilst putting up no doubt otherworldly numbers makes him a good bet to win MVP. Other bookmakers have him as short as 2/1, so snatch up that 9/2 with Skybet while you can.
Rookie of the Year
No matter how good of a prospect a rookie may be, he’s still an unknown quantity at NBA level. As a result, I usually will side with rookies that come with a bit less fanfare and are offered at longer odds – as I have this year.
Jaren Jackson Jr – 12/1 with Skybet, Paddy Power and Betway
My selection for the Rookie of the Year award is Jaren Jackson Jr of the Memphis Grizzlies. After being picked fourth overall at the NBA draft held in June, Jackson didn’t disappoint during the NBA Summer League. In Vegas, Jackson was the standout performer from his rookie class – averaging just over 11 points, 8 rebounds and a colossal 3.8 blocks per game. To compliment his dominance in the paint on the defensive end, he was also doing damage beyond the arc – becoming the first player to ever average over three blocks a game whilst shooting over 40 percent from three.
Watch Jackson Jr sink 8 threes on his way to scoring 29 points on his Summer League debut:
Jaren Jackson Jr has all the makings of a modern NBA big man and could potentially look a steal at #4 in the draft. 12/1 with Skybet seems too good of a price to miss out on, in my opinion. He is as short as 9/1 with Bet365.
LeBron James MVP and Luka Doncic Rookie of the Year – 22/1 with Skybet
Last but not least, a MVP and Rookie of the Year double. I really fancy LeBron for the MVP award and Luka Doncic has all the makings of a great NBA player – in the mould of James himself no less. I wouldn’t be backing Doncic (or anyone else) at around 3/1 for the Rookie of the Year award – but when paired up with LeBron, it makes for a very nice 22/1 double that I just couldn’t resist.
Coach of the Year
Welcome to my most speculative bet of the offseason!
This is usually a market I steer clear of, to win the award it usually goes a coach at the helm of an overachieving underdog or a borderline contender that finishes the season as the undisputed #1 seed of their conference. All in all pretty hard to predict and all the usual candidates are too short a price to get involved.
However, this year I feel I’ve got to have a bet (albeit a small one) on the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Tyronn Lue to be Coach of the Year. Ty Lue guided the Cavs to their first ever NBA title in 2016 after taking over from David Blatt halfway through the regular season. It was only the second time in league history that a coach had won an NBA Championship in their first season in charge and, in the process, he became the first coach to ever win their first ten playoff games. Yes he achieved this with LeBron leading the team on the floor, but Lue was also responsible for the Cavs’ title.
Lue is yet to coach a team without James on the roster, nor has he coached a team that isn’t a contender. Both of these reasons for why he is a MASSIVE 150/1 with Paddy Power to claim Coach of the Year. Per basketball-reference.com, James is was worth 24 wins over that of an average replacement player during the 2017-18 season. Cedi Osman (a player of average replacement level) is likely his successor at small forward – taking this at face value the Cavs are due to post a 26-56 and miss the playoffs by a long way. However, Cleveland will not be without star power as Kevin Love – the last of the team’s ‘big three’ of 2016 – will be suiting up this season. Love was a walking 20-10 player last time he played as a number one option in Minnesota – should he return to those lofty heights and the team’s veterans perform as they can do on a consistent basis, the Cavs should have a decent shot at making the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season. And should they manage that, Ty Lue will most certainly be in the conversation for Coach of the Year and definitely wont be available at anything like 150/1.
DISCLAIMER: antepost bets don’t count towards profit/loss calculations.