We have finally hit playoff time in the NBA. While most of the attention is focused on which team is going to walk away as champion this spring, sports bettors are tallying up their season-long futures bets and seeing how they did. From a betting standpoint, it is worth looking back at who performed the best in certain categories and markets.
Which teams did the best against the spread? Who hit the over with consistency? Which players managed to deliver on their prop wagers throughout the season? Let’s take a deeper look into the action that unfolded across the NBA this season to see which teams and players rewarded their backers the most.
Best over teams
Who doesn’t love to bet on a good over? After all, betting on the over means rooting for more points and more scoring is always fun when it comes to NBA games. That leads us to wonder which teams did the best at piling up the points and hitting the over with regularity.
The San Antonio Spurs (48-33-1 o/u) were the best over team in the league during the regular season. The Utah Jazz, who we will see again later on, were also a great over play with a 47-33-2 o/u record.. Given that they were two of the worst teams in the league, it goes to show that hitting the over isn’t that correlated with being competitive in the playoff picture.
The rest of the teams in the top 10 in overs are interesting because many, but not all, of them are among the best teams in terms of offensive rankings. Unfortunately for some, those offensive stats didn’t translate into a playoff spot. Utah (T-1 in overs), San Antonio (2), OKC (4), and Dallas (9) all failed to make the playoffs.
Betting the over is always popular and there was some success to be had by following the Jazz or Spurs. Both teams hit the over around 58% of the time, easily resulting in profit if you were betting at -110 odds.
Best under teams
Betting the under isn’t necessarily a universal favourite of sports gamblers. After all, as covered in the section above, betting the over is just fun. Taking the under means that you want either a lopsided game or one in which neither team can really find a rhythm. Whatever the case may be, finding the trend of the teams that consistently hit the under could have netted some big winnings this season.
The under list is interesting for a few reasons. For one, it shows who some of the better defensive teams are in the NBA. But the one outlier wound up being the leader in under percentage over the course of the 2022-23 season.
Charlotte finished 14th in the Eastern Conference but managed an impressive 34-48 o/u record for a nearly 59% under percentage. They finished nearly four full percentage points better than Chicago, which hit the under 54.9% of the time, good for second across the NBA.
The rest of the top 10 is littered with playoff teams. Chicago, Minnesota, and New Orleans all managed to reach the play-in tournament. Playoff-bound teams like Memphis, Denver, Cleveland, Brooklyn, and Sacramento round out the list.
The teams that hit the under as a whole were better than the teams that liked to go over. This is a trend to keep in mind when making bets during these playoffs and next season as NBA handicappers look for any edge.
Best teams against the spread
When looking at the teams who performed best against the spread, the top four are quite interesting. Philly (48-34 ATS) was the best team ATS while finishing third in the very competitive Eastern Conference.
Utah (47-33-2 ATS) and Oklahoma City (46-35-1 ATS) finished near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. However, both of these teams far outperformed the expectations of oddsmakers and covered the spread regularly.
Some other teams with surprising records against the spread include: Orlando (45-36-1), Sacramento (45-36-1), and New York (44-34-4).
While it can be fairly easy to predict who will do well in certain statistical categories, predicting winners in each of them is as tough as it gets. That said, a few prop bets wound up paying well throughout the season.
Joel Embiid scoring champion (+325 – PointsBet)
Predicting Embiid to be among the scoring leaders wasn’t exactly a stretch. He was among the top favourites for the award during the preseason. He is one of the most dominant big men in the game and he can also shoot from distance, hitting more three-pointers than the average big man.
But taking him to win the scoring title wound up being good value if you got him before the season started. Many feel that Embiid is the odds-on favourite to win MVP and his offensive production in leading the league with 33.1 points per game has been a big reason why.
James Harden assists per game leader (+225 – PointsBet)
No matter how you feel about Harden, it’s impossible to deny his talent on the court. Harden has also had a history of being a great distributor while putting up nearly 30 points per game or more at various points in his career.
Harden also has a talented 76ers team around him, headlined by the aforementioned Embiid. Harden had one of his most impressive seasons dishing the ball, finishing with 10.7 assists per game. It’s his best performance since he averaged 11.2 back in 2016-17.
Domantas Sabonis rebounds leader (+550 – PointsBet)
Prior to the season, Nikola Jokic and Rudy Gobert were the head-and-shoulders favourites to win the rebounding crown. While they both had fine seasons, finishing in the top five in the league in rebounds per game, they did not finish first. It was Sabonis who would play above the board (so to speak) and come away with the crown.
His 12.3 rebounds per game were the best in the NBA for 2022-23, delivering a nice value win for those who bet on him prior to the season. Favourites did well in categories like points per game and assists per game, but Sabonis provided some good value to bettors who were willing to take a chance.
Futures that paid off
Being able to see ahead can be invaluable. It takes a lot of knowledge and even more luck to make these picks come true. Prior to the 2022-23 season, there were a few that no doubt stood out for one reason or another. Here are the futures that paid off.
Dallas Mavericks miss the playoffs (+400 via BetMGM)
If you could have seen the implosion of the Mavericks coming, you could have made off very well. The Mavericks opened the season +400 to miss the playoffs, steep odds given the presence of superstar Luka Doncic.
Those odds only became steeper with the acquisition of fellow superstar Kyrie Irving. But for whatever reason things just didn’t work out. The two rarely suited up together and more losses than wins followed. Shockingly, the two weren’t on the court when they were eliminated from contention. The result is a big winner for those who had doubts in the Mavericks.
New York Knicks to make the playoffs (+150 via BetMGM)
Before the season started, the jury was out on the Knicks. BetMGM had them at +150 to make the playoffs to begin the season and that may have been the last time that there was any doubt about their playoff future.
The Knicks finished with an impressive 47-35 record in a highly competitive Eastern Conference, placing fifth. They have a tough matchup in round one versus Cleveland, but no one can deny that the Knicks have had a successful regular season.
Sports bettors who believed in the Knicks and their big acquisition Jalen Brunson were rewarded very well with these solid odds.
Sacramento Kings to win Pacific Division (+50000 at PointsBet)
Sacramento hadn’t make the postseason since the 2005-06 season, but the team ended a 17-year drought after a very impressive 48-34 season to claim top spot in the Pacific Division. Nobody saw this breakout season coming, and the Kings actually had the longest odds to win their division behind the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, and Los Angeles Lakers.
The Kings even recorded a Western Conference-best 25 road victories and clinched the No. 3 seed in the West playoffs thanks to All-Star campaigns from Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox.
Nobody saw this one coming, but if you did, you’re celebrating a huge payout.
Joel Embiid for MVP (+600 at BetMGM)
After a couple of close finishes, Joel Embiid was one of the top favourites to win the MVP Trophy prior to this season. With odds of +600, he was behind just Doncic. While it’s been a battle all season for the award, Embiid is now the front-runner and many signs point to him being the recipient.
Embiid at +600 wound up being a value pick that looks likely to pay off. Entering the playoffs, Embiid is the overwhelming favourite to capture his first MVP after leading the league in scoring and dominating for the 76ers. Even if Jokic, who seemed the favourite just past the halfway mark, manages to steal the award, getting Embiid at +600 represented a good value play and one that is likely to reward bettors.