Sports Betting 101: NBA Futures And The Trade Deadline

Written By Martin Derbyshire on February 5, 2019 - Last Updated on November 15, 2022

The biggest day in US sports betting is now over. The New England Patriots won Super Bowl LIII on Sunday. Plus, they covered the point spread at most legal US sportsbooks, beating the Los Angeles Rams 13-3.

However, important dates are always around the corner on the major US pro sports calendar and they bring with them opportunities to book a few wagers that can pay off big time.

This week on that calendar is the NBA trade deadline, set for this Thursday, Feb. 7 at 3 p.m. ET.

Betting NBA Futures at the trade deadline

For the most part, NBA teams will lock in their rosters this Thursday. Then they’ll begin preparing for the stretch run to the playoffs. That means there is no better time to identify the teams you think are ready to make a run at an NBA title and lock in a basic NBA futures bet.

Just like it sounds, a futures bet is a wager on something where the outcome will not be determined until a future date.

Traditionally, that means betting on a team in any sport to win a league championship before the season starts.

However, most legal US sportsbooks will allow you to book basic NBA futures bets throughout the year with odds that are adjusted during the regular season and into the playoffs.

Making basic NBA futures bets during the regular season could not be any easier. All you need to do is pick a team you think will win:

  • The Atlantic, Central, Northwest, Pacific, Southeast, or Southwest Division; or
  • The NBA’s Eastern Conference; or
  • The NBA’s Western Conference; or
  • The NBA Finals

NBA futures prices

The earlier in the season you make the bet, the better the price usually is. Which means prices are only going to get worse than they are right now for most of the favorites as the regular season winds down.

As long as the team is still in contention, most legal US sportsbooks will offer a price on futures for all 30 NBA teams. You’ll see either a positive (+) or negative (-) number posted beside the team.

Do not be confused by this. A positive number simply indicates how much you’ll earn for each $100 bet. A negative number indicates how much you’ll need to bet to win $100.

Of course, the negative numbers are reserved for heavy favorites, which, as you might guess, are few and far between when it comes to NBA Finals futures. In fact, at this point in the season, most US sportsbooks will have a positive number beside every NBA team except the two-time defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

For example, as of Feb. 4, in New Jersey, the Caesars Casino & Sports online and mobile sportsbook had the Warriors at -230 to win the NBA Finals this year. In the meantime, every other team had a positive number beside its name.

In fact, the lowly New York Knicks just made a deadline deal trading away top player Kristaps Porzingis. Now, they’re at +300000 to win the NBA Finals on SugarHouse Sportsbook in NJ. Plus, Caesars Casino & Sports has the Knicks at +500000.

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Shop around for the best NBA futures price

Shopping around at different sportsbooks for the best price on an NBA futures bet is always a good idea. There may even be some value to be found.

For example, the Milwaukee Bucks own the best record in NBA as of Feb. 4. However, they’re +350 to win the Eastern Conference on 888 Sport in NJ, compared to +200 for the Toronto Raptors and +230 for the Boston Celtics.

Plus, FanDuel Sportsbook in NJ has the Bucks at +1100 to win the NBA title, with the Raptors (+900), Celtics (+1000) and Warriors (-175) all paying less. Put simply, that means placing just a $100 bet on the best team in the NBA right now to win the title would pay a whopping $1,200 if they can do it. Now that’s value.

Additionally, the Denver Nuggets currently have the best record in the west, but FOX Bet has them at +2200 to win the Western Conference with five other teams paying less. That’s even more value.

Up until the end of 2018, DraftKings Sportsbook in NJ was releasing an NBA Futures Betting Report identifying major changes in the lines as the season progressed.

If any team in serious contention makes a major trade deadline move this week, the odds on that team winning the NBA title, conference, or division are sure to see a major shift at NJ’s DraftKings Sportsbook and others, like playMGM Sports.

So, you’re going to want to pay attention to more than just who is going where at the trade deadline. A seismic shift in NBA futures odds may be on the horizon as well.

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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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