NBA Futures (04/03/14)

By John Ewing
In the midst of the playoff push, we simulated the most likely NBA Playoffs 50,000 times to find value in basketball futures. Odds courtesy of

To setup our NBA Playoffs we used our rest of season projections to determine which teams would make the postseason. Using this method, the Hawks usurp the Knicks for the 8th seed in the East. In the West, the Grizzlies and the Mavericks flip flop while the Suns are left out of the postseason despite being in a three-way tie for a playoff spot.
After 50,000 simulations of our most likely NBA Playoffs, the Indiana Pacers win the NBA Championship. The Pacers win 28.0% of all simulated tournaments. In the most likely NBA Finals, Indiana defeats the San Antonio Spurs.
To determine if a team has value we look at what their current odds are to win the NBA Championship and compare that to our projected odds that they win the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. For example, Miami is listed at 9/4 to win the championship, in order for us to feel comfortable wagering on the Heat they would need to win it all 30.8% (which is 4/(9+4)) of the time. We project Miami to win it all 17.2% of the time, meaning there is no value in placing a bet at 9/4 odds.
Indiana Pacers (53-23, Clinched Central Division)
Current odds: 5/1, Odds needed in order to place a wager: 16.7%
Indiana wins the NBA Finals 28.0% of the time
Fact - the Pacers have lost four of their last six games and are below .500 since the beginning of March. Fact - Indiana’s offense has struggled to score, topping 80 points twice in the last seven games. Yet Indiana is still our most likely champion. The Pacers are second in our Power Rankings and No. 1 in defensive efficiency. Indiana’s biggest advantage, the Pacers are in the Eastern Conference. Ten of the top 13 teams in our rankings hail from the Western Conference. 
Los Angeles Clippers (54-22, Clinched the Pacific Division)
Current odds: 8/1, Odds needed in order to place a wager: 11.1%
San Antonio wins the NBA Finals 11.4% of the time
The Clippers have clinched the Pacific meaning they will have home court in the first round of the playoffs. Los Angeles is still gunning for the 2nd seed, just 1.5 games behind Oklahoma City. The Clippers are a balanced team ranking in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
Additional value bets (long shots): Rockets 18/1 and Raptors 75/1
Below are the odds for each team to win the NBA Championship. Plus, odds needed to place a wager and our projected odds for each team.
Team NBA Championship Odds Odds Needed Projected Odds
Heat 9/4 30.8% 17.2%
Spurs 3/1 25.0% 16.1%
Thunder 9/2 18.2% 13.1%
Pacers 5/1 16.7% 28.0%
Clippers 8/1 11.1% 11.4%
Rockets 18/1 5.3% 6.5%
Warriors 20/1 4.8% 2.2%
Nets 33/1 2.9% 0.2%
Trailblazers 40/1 2.4% 0.8%
Bulls 50/1 2.0% 0.7%
Grizzlies 66/1 1.5% 0.1%
Raptors 75/1 1.3% 2.4%
Mavericks 100/1 1.0% 1.0%
Wizards 150/1 0.7% 0.3%
Bobcats 300/1 0.3% 0.0%
Hawks 500/1 0.2% 0.0%