Saturday features a relatively thin NBA slate, with just six games to choose from on DraftKings Sportsbook. That said, my mom always said that quality is more important than quantity, and there are some quality opportunities to make some money today.
The action gets underway with the Rockets vs. the Spurs at 5 p.m. ET and wraps up with the Hawks vs. the Blazers at 10 p.m. ET.
Let’s dive into some of my favorite wagers on DraftKings Sportsbook for Saturday’s NBA slate.
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Chicago Bulls @ Dallas Mavericks (-7):
We all have things that make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. For me, that’s betting the under on Sunday afternoon basketball games. Being a professional athlete is hard – or at least that’s what I’ve been told – and NBA athletes play the vast majority of their games at night. They optimize their bodies to perform at peak levels during those hours, so these afternoon games are a major shift for them.
Unsurprisingly, taking the under in these contests has historically been a profitable endevour. The under has gone 353-301-12 on Sunday games starting before 7 p.m. ET dating back to 2006. That’s good for a +5% return on investment over a very large sample size, which represents a solid edge in NBA betting.
Dallas has also made some massive strides on the defensive end of the court this season. They were an offensive juggernaut last year, but they ranked just 19th in defensive efficiency. They’re all the way up to second in that department in the new season.
Utah Jazz @ Denver Nuggets (-1.5):
The Jazz will be without Joe Ingles for the second-straight game, but his absence could actually be a good thing. The Jazz have been markedly worse with Ingles on the court this season, decreasing their Net Rating by -13.0 points per 100 possessions.
With Ingles out of the lineup, the Jazz will likely funnel a few additional minutes to Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson has been excellent offensively this season, averaging a career-high 17.1 points per game while shooting 48.4% from the field and 42.2% from 3-point range. That’s had a sizable impact on Utah’s offense when he’s on the court.
Some extra scoring punch could be extra beneficial vs. the Nuggets. They’ve struggled on the defensive end of the court this season, which is why they rank just 10th in Net Rating. The Jazz rank fifth in that department, so they’re the superior squad.
Pacers center Joel Embiid:
Will Win MVP (+1000)
I’m going to go in a slightly different direction with my last pick. You can still look at the NBA futures market on DraftKings Sportsbook, and Embiid to win the MVP seems like a strong value at +1000. That puts him well behind some of the favorites in that category, but I think you can poke holes in all of their resumes.
Luka Doncic has the shortest odds on the board, and there’s no doubt that he’s been fantastic this season. However, he’s putting up essentially the same stats that he did last year, and he’s actually been far less efficient as a scorer. He’s shooting just 26.0% from 3-point range, and his eFG% has dropped from 53.1% last season to 51.4% this year. The Mavericks are also just 6-5, and the MVP typically comes from a team that’s near the top of the standings.
Next up is Giannis Antetokounmpo (+450), and I think there’s going to be some voter fatigue with him. He’s won the award in back-to-back seasons only to flame out in the playoffs. The MVP is a regular-season award, but the Bucks’ struggles in the playoffs are going to be in the back of the voter’s minds.
Nikola Jokic (+800) is probably Embiid’s biggest competition at this point, but the Nuggets as a team haven’t played great this year. Unless they can improve their record, that’s going to count against Jokic at the end. You can also cross off Kevin Durant (+800) following the addition of James Harden.
Embiid is in the midst of the best season of his career, and he’s doing it for a team that has won nine of their first 14 games. If they can keep playing at that level – and Embiid returns from his current injury as quickly as expected – Embiid is going to be in the MVP discuss at the end of the year.