Two of the biggest questions in the NBA this offseason are bound to be which player chosen in last week's draft will go on to win Rookie of the Year honors and which team Kevin Durant will be playing for on opening day of the 2016-17 NBA regular season.
BetOnline has recently weighed in on both of those propositions with betting odds for each. My job is to find the best value in the numbers when it actually comes to betting on these two props.
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2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year
Ben Simmons was the first overall pick of the recent NBA Draft by the lowly Philadelphia 76ers, so it stands to reason that he would have the best betting odds on the board to win Rookie of the Year at +275. While he may not be all that thrilled going to a team that has won fewer games in its last three seasons (47) than 10 NBA teams won this year, the upside for Simmons putting up some big numbers in his rookie season appear to be pretty high.
If the Sixers can win just 20 games next year with Simmons leading the way then that would be a 100 percent improvement, which could easily be enough to sway voters to give some kind of award to the NBA's most futile franchise in recent memory. The one snafu in this plan is the recent track record of first-round picks in this town. Players like Nerlens Noel, Jahill Okafor and Joel Embiid (who has yet to play a game) have not been able to live up to expectations in an effort to turn things around.
The big competition for this award should come from Brandon Ingram, who was taken second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers. This is another team that has hit the skids in recent years with just 17 wins last season after posting 21 wins the season before and 27 in the 2013-14 campaign.
The Lakers are a very high-profile franchise that just parted ways with one of their best players ever in Kobe Bryant. This could put Ingram in a position to flourish right out of the gate, and the fact that he has the third-best odds on the board at +650 really adds some value to this pick. The former Duke standout may even have a bit of a chip on his shoulder for not being the top pick in the draft, so the upside on him having a standout rookie season remains pretty high.
The other two players in major contention for Rookie of the Year according to the odds would be Buddy Hield (+500) with the New Orleans Pelicans and Kris Dunn (+800) with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Both of these players are in excellent position to make an immediate impact on teams that should continue to rapidly improve next season, but they could still be overshadowed by established stars such as Anthony Davis in New Orleans and Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota. I am sticking with Ingram in LA at +650 as my top pick for this prop.
Kevin Durant's Team Next Season
Not since LeBron James signed with Cleveland two seasons ago after a four-year stint in Miami has there been as much speculation concerning a free agent superstar in the NBA as there is right now surrounding the future of Kevin Durant. His current contract with Oklahoma City has expired after starting his NBA career when the franchise was still in Seattle as the second overall pick of the 2007 draft.
The betting odds that he stays with his current team are the best on the board at +300, but there are five other teams reportedly in the running for his services with a scheduled meeting with Durant. The odds that Golden State adds him to its arsenal are set at +400, followed by San Antonio (+1000), Miami (+1400), Boston (+1600) and the Los Angeles Clippers (+2500). BetOnline has also posted odds for the New York Knicks (+1200), Washington (+3300) and the Lakers (+3300), but there are no planned meetings with these three teams at this time.
On the surface, it appears that the best play would be to take the favorable +300 odds that he works out a new deal with the Thunder. However, the lingering question in the back of my head is what Russell Westbrook's plans will be when he is eligible to become a free agent after next season. If Durant already thinks (or knows) that Westbrook will bolt for greener pastures, he could still sign a one-year deal with OKC to try one last time to win a title with his backcourt mate or make his move this year in search of a title someplace else.
The best value in these odds could be with the Clippers at +2500. They are one piece of the puzzle away from forming the next big three with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in place. You might want to split your bet in this prop with a small play on both Oklahoma City and Los Angeles.
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