NBA Notable Bets: Lakers love dominating betting market

With the NBA season tipping off this week, here’s a look at the betting market around the country — including the teams attracting the most and least action, the biggest bets and some of the odds that have been on the move.

Lots of Lakers love

• The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers are the consensus favorites to win a second straight championship, with odds around +275 at United States sportsbooks. The Milwaukee Bucks (+600), LA Clippers (+600) and Brooklyn Nets (+600) make up the next tier of contenders.

• At Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill U.S., 57% of the money that has been bet on the odds to win the NBA championship is on the Lakers. That’s more than on the next five teams combined.

• Teams that have attracted the most money to win the title:


• The two largest bets placed on William Hill’s odds to win the championship are both on the Lakers: $20,000 at +300 to win a net $60,000, and $10,000 at +250 to win a net $25,000.

• At DraftKings, the Lakers have attracted the most money to win the title in six of the nine states in which the sportsbook operates. The exceptions: Nets in New Jersey and Tennessee, and 76ers in West Virginia.

• William Hill took a $9,000 bet on the Bucks to win the title at +550, but even with that large wager, Milwaukee has attracted nearly 10 times less money than the Lakers.

• The Clippers account for only 1% of the total dollars bet on William Hill U.S.’ odds to win the championship.

• Most bets to win the title at Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill:


• More money has been bet on the Knicks (400-1) than 10 other teams, including the Grizzlies, Pacers and Magic. The largest bet on the Knicks at William Hill is $100 at 400-1.

• As of Friday, the sportsbook at The Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey, has taken one bet on the Knicks to make the playoffs: $10 at 20-1 odds.

• At the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, the Lakers are 20-1 not to make the playoffs.

• As of last week at the SuperBook, there had been only four bets on the Rockets to win the championship, including a $1,000 bet at 80-1 that would net $80,000.

• The Bulls (200-1) have attracted the least amount of money to win the title at William Hill U.S. sportsbooks.

• Other notable bets to win the title placed with William Hill U.S.:

$2,000 on the Rockets at 100-1 to win a net $200,000
$200 on the Hornets at 500-1 to win a net $100,000
$100 on the Cavaliers at 750-1 to win a net $75,000

Season win totals

The SuperBook opened season win totals on Nov. 7, shortly after it was announced that the regular season would consist of only 72 games and before free agency and the draft took place. The SuperBook’s Jeff Sherman, a respected NBA oddsmaker, broke down how he set his win totals:

“I made my numbers based on the 72 games and then converted them to 82 games just to see if it was too high or too,” Sherman said. “I kind of worked backwards that way, and it was just an extra layer of trying to strengthen the number.”

Bulls: Chicago opened at 29.5 and attracted some money on the over, Sherman said. The Bulls’ total is sitting at 30.5 entering the opening week.

Warriors: Sherman moved Golden State down from its opening number of 43.5 to 36.5 after Klay Thompson suffered an injury that will cause him to miss another season. “We’ve taken some over on them, so we’re now at 37.5,” Sherman said.

Rockets: Houston opened at 41.5, and it has attracted one-way action on the under. “Everything went haywire, as far as [James] Harden and [Russell] Westbrook,” Sherman said. “They trade Westbrook, and Harden’s name is there, and people are just looking to bet them under.” The Rockets’ total was down to 33.5 entering the opening week.

Hawks: After opening at 31.5, Atlanta’s win total has increased to 36.5 after an active offseason that saw the team sign Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Rajon Rondo, Kris Dunn and Solomon Hill.

Thunder: Oklahoma City opened at 32.5, then dropped to 22.5 after losing Chris Paul and other key contributors.

Suns: Sherman bumped up Phoenix’s total from 35.5 to 38.5 after the addition of Paul. “We’ve been getting two-way [betting] at 38.5,” Sherman said.

Player award betting

Luka Doncic has emerged as the consensus favorite to win the regular-season MVP. Doncic is around 4-1, followed by Giannis Antetokounmpo at 5-1.

Doncic has attracted the most bets and the most money to win the MVP at DraftKings.

• A customer with FanDuel’s sportsbook in New Jersey placed a $500 bet on Karl-Anthony Towns to win the MVP at 120-1, to win a net $60,000.

• Most bets to win the Rookie of the Year at BetMGM sportsbooks:

Obi Toppin
LaMelo Ball
Cole Anthony
Tyrese Haliburton
Deni Avdija

Odds and ends

• Three coaches who cover early in the season (minimum of 25 games):

Nick Nurse: 23-17-1 against the spread (first two months of season)
James Borrego: 24-19
Dwane Casey: 93-75-2

• Three coaches who don’t cover early in the season (min. 25 games):

J.B. Bickerstaff: 14-21 ATS
Tyronn Lue: 18-27-1
Lloyd Pierce: 18-25

James Harden is the favorite, at +145, to lead the league in scoring at DraftKings. Doncic and Damian Lillard are next, at +650.

• Favorites have had a losing record against the spread in four consecutive regular seasons, but it’s been close. Since the 2015-16 regular season, favorites have covered the spread in 49.4% of games.

Here is the record of favorites against the spread in the past five regular seasons:

2019-20: 499-518-28
2018-19: 595-600-18
2017-18: 582-606-31
2016-17: 585-628-15
2015-16: 619-596-14

• Best teams after a loss since 2018:

Bucks: 31-16 ATS
Clippers: 42-23
Heat: 48-28-1
Mavericks: 50-31-2

• Regular-season games averaged 223.6 points last season, the highest mark since 1970.

Here is the over/under record for regular-season games in the past five seasons:

2019-20: 1,088-988-32
2018-19: 1,218-1,220-22
2017-18: 1,182-1,246-32
2016-17: 1,212-1,190-58
2015-16: 1,198-1,210-52

• The Bucks outscored opponents by 5.4 points in the first halves of games last season, the best mark in the league.

• The Warriors were outscored by 5.8 points in the first halves of games last season, the worst mark in the league.

• The Raptors were the best second-half team last season, outscoring opponents by a league-high 3.8 points.

• The Hornets were the worst second-half team last season, outscored by an average of 4.0 points.

ESPN Stats and Information researcher Alex Denner and contributed data to this story.

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