The NBA season is still relatively fresh as we head toward the one-month mark on the schedule, but in that short time basketball top sportsbooks have recognized a few surprises teams – good and bad – that are contending in their respective divisions.
Here are a handful of NBA teams had could hold serious futures value when it comes to their odds to top their divisional standings at the end of the year.
Toronto Raptors: +450 to win Atlantic Division
The Raptors aren’t seeing much respect, even as the defending NBA champs. A lot of that has to do with Kawhi Leonard bailing on Toronto for L.A. but even with a hard-working core and solid defenders, the Raptors are way down the board in the Eastern Conference futures.
Despite early-season injuries to key contributors, Toronto is off to a solid 10-4 start and sits second in the Atlantic Division standings, behind Boston at 11-4. The Celtics got a scare Friday night when Kemba Walker went down with a neck injury and are already missing Gordon Hayward due to a broken hand. The door is open for the Raptors to run up the standings, boasting one of the more balanced teams in the NBA: sitting eighth in points per game and ninth in points against.
Orlando Magic: +300 to win Southeast Division
The Magic’s Florida rivals, the Miami Heat, are living up to their namesake with a red-hot 11-3 explosion out of the blocks. Orlando, on the other hand, has stumbled out to a 6-8 start. However, these early-season results have been overblown in the division futures, with Miami currently priced at -500 to win the Southeast. There’s plenty of basketball to come.
The Magic won’t see much competition below it in the standings, with Charlotte, Washington, and Atlanta unable to defend. Orlando hasn’t had any trouble on the defensive end of the court, allowing only 102.4 points per game – third lowest in the NBA. The issues are on offense, where the Magic make just 42.3% of their shots for a measly 101.9 points per game. With star center Nikola Vucevic expected to return from an ankle injury in late December, this offense will find its form and challenge Miami for the division crown.
Dallas Mavericks: +333 to win Southwest Division
The Southwest is shaping up to be a two-horse race between the Houston Rockets and the Mavericks, with San Antonio, New Orleans and Memphis all struggling mightily to start the year. Houston is a -333 front runner to win the Southwest, based on star power, but the way Dallas is starting to look, now might be the time to take a flyer on Mark Cuban’s kids.
The Mavs offense is starting to really heat up, scoring 142 and 143 points in their last two contests. Small forward Luka Doncic is emerging as a superstar in the league, averaging 31.7 points per game in November, and has solid scoring support in fellow mismatch-nightmare Kristaps Porzingis. With young talent and plenty of low-cost role players on the roster (23rd in salary for 2019), Dallas is in a good spot to add some talent come the trade deadline in February. Don’t be surprised if Cuban lures in some scoring help on the perimeter, like D’Angelo Russell from Golden State.