Value Bets (02/05/15)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
Utilizing our most recent NBA Playoff Probabilities, we find value in NBA Championship futures. Odds courtesy of

Yesterday we released our updated NBA Playoff Probabilities. The Warriors are the most likely champion but is there any value in backing Stephen Curry to collect his first title?

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 hoist the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy. For example, Toronto is listed at 20/1 to win the title, in order for us to feel comfortable wagering on the Raptors they would need to win it all 4.8% (which is 1/(1+20)) of the time. We project the Drakes to win it all 3.6% of the time, meaning there is no value in placing a bet at 20/1 odds.

Sixteen teams are guaranteed to make the playoffs, yet below only thirteen teams even project to have a one percent or greater chance to win the NBA Championship. If you are contemplating placing a wager on a longshot, like Miami at 100/1, tread lightly. The Heat are currently the eighth seed in the East but aren't a lock (69% chance) to reach the postseason even with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Three Teams with Value

Los Angeles Clippers

Current odds: 12/1, Odds needed in order to place a wager: 7.7%
The Clippers win the NBA Championship 12.8% of the time

Don't sleep on Los Angeles' true NBA power. The Clippers have the second most efficient offense in the league just behind Dallas and ahead of Golden State, our most likely champions. The Clips are 33-16 and have won five straight against Western Conference playoff teams.

The Clippers are our second most likely champion and provide the greatest value bet among future odds.

Memphis Grizzlies

Current odds: 12/1, Odds needed in order to place a wager: 7.7%
The Grizzlies wins the NBA Championship 9.1% of the time

Memphis is one of just four teams to rank in the top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency, with Golden State, and only the second team in the West to make such a claim. The Grizzlies have parlayed that balance into the third most wins against .500 or better teams in the league.

Plus Memphis is just three games behind Golden State, a team they have already beaten this year, so the number one seed in the West is not out of reach.

Chicago Bulls

Current odds: 17/2, Odds needed in order to place a wager: 10.5%
The Bulls win the NBA Championship 11.8% of the time

Chicago, like Memphis, is a balanced team ranking eighth in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The Bulls, like Memphis and Los Angeles, are one of just five teams with a positive winning percentage against clubs with a .500 or better record.

Chicago does have one advantage that neither the Clippers nor Grizzlies enjoy, the benefit of playing in the East. The Bulls path to the championship is much easier.

Additional teams with value: Dallas Mavericks and Washington Wizards

2015 NBA Title Odds
Note: The Lakers, Timberwolves, Knicks and 76ers are off the board

Team Odds Odds Needed Projected Odds
Golden State Warriors 7/2 22.22% 17.50%
Cleveland Cavaliers 15/4 21.05% 12.00%
San Antonio Spurs 7/1 12.50% 5.90%
Atlanta Hawks 15/2 11.76% 7.10%
Chicago Bulls 17/2 10.53% 11.80%
Dallas Mavericks 12/1 7.69% 7.80%
Los Angeles Clippers 12/1 7.69% 12.80%
Memphis Grizzlies 12/1 7.69% 9.10%
Oklahoma City Thunder 16/1 5.88% 2.60%
Houston Rockets 18/1 5.26% 2.70%
Toronto Raptors 20/1 4.76% 3.60%
Portland Trailblazers 25/1 3.85% 3.20%
Washington Wizards 28/1 3.45% 3.50%
Miami Heat 100/1 0.99% 0.00%
Detroit Pistons 150/1 0.66% 0.00%
Milwaukee Bucks 150/1 0.66% 0.30%
New Orleans Pelicans 150/1 0.66% 0.00%
Phoenix Suns 150/1 0.66% 0.20%
Boston Celtics 500/1 0.20% 0.00%
Brooklyn Nets 500/1 0.20% 0.00%
Indiana Pacers 500/1 0.20% 0.00%
Charlotte Hornets 500/1 0.20% 0.00%
Sacramento Kings 1000/1 0.10% 0.00%
Utah Jazz 1000/1 0.10% 0.00%
Denver Nuggets 2000/1 0.05% 0.00%
Orlando Magic 2000/1 0.05% 0.00%