One of the things I like to keep an eye on during any sports off-season is betting trends. I especially like to monitor how championship futures odds change throughout the off-season, particularly as roster moves are made.
To no one’s surprise, the Lakers’ recent acquisition of Dwight Howard without having to give up Pau Gasol has them right in the thick of being championship favourites, along with the slightly more favoured Heat and slightly less favoured Thunder. For the most part, it’s pretty safe to assume that the 2013 NBA championship will be won by one of those three teams (some betting sites have a simple option where you can bet on those three teams or the field), with perhaps a couple of squads heading into October with a fighting chance.
But outside of the title contenders, I also like to look at how the odds are moving towards the bottom of the table, among the league’s recent and predicted cellar dwellers. Raptors fans are used to heading into an NBA season with no one outside of Toronto or Canada expecting anything of, or caring anything about, their Raptors, and despite a notable improvement to the roster and overall depth, not much has changed.
I’m not so much paying attention to the Raptors’ odds of winning a championship, which should technically read “N/A,” as much as I’m paying attention to how their odds relate to other weak teams.
You’ll notice that most sites have the Raps listed as one of the five worst teams (at 200-1 odds), along with the Bobcats, Wizards, Pistons and Kings.
Pinnacle Sports, which I find is usually pretty bang-on with odds, has Toronto listed as the 28th most likely (262.78-1) to win the 2013 NBA championship, ahead of only Sacramento (291.88-1) and Charlotte (582.54-1).
Again, I understand that these odds are based upon people actually betting on certain teams to win championships (it boggles my mind that people actually bet on teams like the Raps at all, even if it’s just $1), but the point is, according to the betting public and predetermined odds, the Raptors are expected to be around the 26th-28th best team in the NBA next season, or should I say the third to fifth-worst team in the league.
A much better indication of general expectations outside of the fan-base will come when the over/under on team win totals come out some time later in the off-season. As I’ve written recently, I think a fair prediction for the Raptors would be in and around the 35-win mark, which generally puts a team around 20th in the league standings.
For what it’s worth, Jonas Valanciunas is currently listed as the fifth-most likely Rookie of the Year winner with 12-1 odds, behind only Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bradley Beal and Harrison Barnes. Terrence Ross has the 19th-best odds at 30-1.