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How to bet on the NBA?

Futures bets are a common way to bet the NBA. A future bet refers to any wager that settles at a later date. For example, you can bet on which player will win the NBA MVP, Most Improved Player, Sixth Man of the Year etc. and much more. Betting the NBA during the season can be done in a few ways, with the main three being, point spreads, money lines or game totals. For a complete breakdown of this visit our NBA homepage.

NBA Win Totals

A popular type of future bet in the NBA are regular season win totals, where bettors are given a designated number from a sportsbook and can then wager if a specific team will win more or less games than the listed number. For example, the defending NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks have a season win total of 54.5 for the upcoming year. If you bet over that number, you'd win if they finished with 55 or more regular-season wins. In contrast, if you bet under, you'd cash if they finished with 54 or fewer.

Here are the win totals for every NBA team for the upcoming 2021-22 season (DraftKings Sportsbook):

  • Brooklyn Nets: 56.5
  • Milwaukee Bucks: 54.5
  • Utah Jazz: 51.5
  • Los Angeles Lakers: 52.5
  • Philadelphia 76ers: 50.5
  • Phoenix Suns: 51.5
  • Dallas Mavericks: 48.5
  • Miami Heat: 48.5
  • Golden State Warriors: 47.5
  • Atlanta Hawks: 46.5
  • Boston Celtics: 46.5
  • Denver Nuggets: 47.5
  • Los Angeles Clippers: 45.5
  • Portland Trail Blazers: 44.5
  • Indiana Pacers: 42.5
  • Memphis Grizzlies: 41.5
  • New York Knicks: 41.5
  • Chicago Bulls: 42.5
  • New Orleans Pelicans: 39.5
  • Toronto Raptors: 35.5
  • Charlotte Hornets: 38.5
  • Sacramento Kings: 36.5
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: 35.5
  • Washington Wizards: 33.5
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: 27.5
  • San Antonio Spurs: 28.5
  • Houston Rockets: 27.5
  • Detroit Pistons: 25.5
  • Orlando Magic: 22.5
  • Oklahoma City Thunder: 23.5

The three teams projected to win the most games this upcoming season are the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. None of this should come as a surprise, as the Bucks are the defending NBA Champions and boast two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo as well as perennially undervalued all-stars in Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. 

The Nets feature maybe the most fearsome big-three in NBA history in Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving and were one inch away from eliminating the Bucks in the second round of the playoffs last year.

Finally, the Lakers have arguably the greatest player of all-time in LeBron James spearheading their roster in what will be his eighteenth career NBA campaign. Despite this unheralded longevity from James, he’s shown almost zero signs of decline as he enters his age-37 season. He’ll again be joined by athletic marvel Anthony Davis who is maybe the best two-way player in the NBA. Los Angeles also went out and traded for the triple-double king himself, Russell Westbrook, as well as a bevy of other shooters to round out what looks to be a loaded roster. 


The NBA is a unique sport in that there usually are no surprise teams. In the NFL, MLB or NHL we have seen many teams come out of nowhere to win a championship. In the NBA, over the course of a full 82-game season and postseason, the best team usually wins. The player who wins NBA MVP usually resides on one of the top three-to-four teams in the league. Here is a list of the last five winners of the award with that player’s team win total:

2020-21: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets, 47-25.

2019-20: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks, 56-17

2018-19: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks, 60-22

2017-18: James Harden, Houston Rockets, 65-17

2016-17: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, 67-15

As you can see, outside Nikola Jokic last year, every winner of the award since 2016 was on the best team in the NBA. So a bet on MVP is almost as much a team award as it is player award. Let’s take a look at upcoming 2021-22 MVP Odds (DraftKings Sportsbook):

Luka Doncic +380

Joel Embiid +700

Kevin Durant +700

Giannis Antetokounmpo +800

Stephen Curry +800

Damian Lillard +1400

Nikola Jokic +1500

LeBron James +1500

James Harden +2000

Trae Young: +2000

Devin Booker +2500

Anthony Davis +2500

Kawhi Leonard +2500

Russell Westbrook +2500

Paul George +3000

Jayson Tatum +3000

Donovan Mitchell +3000

Kyrie Irving +4000

Luka Doncic is the overwhelming favorite this season as the 22-year old enters his fourth NBA campaign. He led the Mavericks to a 42-30 season last year while averaging 27.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.7 assists on a shooting percentage line of 43/33/71. He has major room for improvement in his efficiency numbers and there’s little reason to think he won’t continue getting better as he won't turn 23 until February 28th. 

It will likely be hard for Joel Embiid to win the award this season as the Sixers are reportedly going to trade superstar point guard Ben Simmons prior to the start of the year. Philly will likely not win enough games for Embiid to be in consideration, however, he remains one of, if not the most dominant big man in the NBA, and there’s always a chance he has such an outlier prime Shaq type year that can’t be ignored. The usage will certainly be there. 

The big-three in Brooklyn will likely all cannibalize each other’s numbers, making it very difficult for any of them to take home the award barring injury or insane efficiency. 

Some logical choices to take home the hardware are all previous multiple-time winners of the award already: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry and LeBron James. The path for the Greek Freak is pretty simple, he’s arguably the best player in the world and coming off a dominant NBA Finals. He dominates the ball in Milwaukee and contributes in so many areas for a team that will again be atop the NBA standings. He makes sense at +800.

Stephen Curry will get his fellow splash brother and backcourt mate Klay Thompson back after missing the last two seasons with knee and achilles injuries. The greatest shooter of all time led the NBA in scoring last season and led the Warriors to the play-in round of the playoffs, where they simply ran out of gas against more talented Lakers’ and Grizzlies’ teams. With Thompson back, the Dubs could challenge 50-wins this season and Curry will remain the focal point. I also like this at +800.

Finally we have soon-to-be 37-year old LeBron James, who -- if you checked social media this offseason -- would know has been taking notes on who’s counting the Lakers out due to his age. History has taught us to never bet against the King and a renaissance season is firmly in the range of outcomes. If he avoids the injury bug, getting 15/1 here could be a steal.