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With the NBA All-Star now break now come and gone, just over three months remain in the NBA season as teams jockey for position in the NBA playoffs and a run for the 2020 NBA Championship. At the top of the futures market, familiar names are rampant with the Milwaukee Bucks (+240), Los Angeles Clippers (+300) and Los Angeles Lakers (+300) the clear front runners as the favorites to bring home this year’s Larry O’Brien trophy. While those three teams have been hammered all season long and have little value remaining, there’s a host of teams with longer odds I have my eye on. Let’s take a look at one of those teams today that I think offers a ton of value and whose odds I expect to shrink over the coming weeks.
Favorite value bet to win the 2020 NBA Championship
Currently slotted in the #2 spot in the Western Conference playoffs, the Denver Nuggets continue to be disrespected by the betting markets. While it’s certainly going to be an uphill battle against either of the teams from Los Angeles, if current seeding remains or even slides a spot or two, they’re only going have to face one come the Western Conference championship game. With what’s, in my opinion, the best big man in the game today in Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets possess a huge advantage down low against most teams and have the added bonus of Jokic being able to step out from three, shooting 33% on the season. Another asset that championship teams tend to have is an experienced quality point guard, which the Nuggets have in spades in Jamal Murray. A 2016 draft pick out of Kentucky, Murray has steadily improved each season and has fallen more into a leadership role this season than in year’s past as he is averaging a career-high 18.9 points per game.
To go along with roster pieces that are championship-caliber, the Nuggets also have a nightly quality that most championship teams possess: defensive prowess. To this point in the season, the Nuggets lead the Western Conference in points allowed, allowing an average of just 106.8 points per game. Another defensive metric, which speaks to their hustle and ability to close out shooters, is the opponent’s three-point percentage which the Nuggets also lead the West at 34.2%. The Nuggets are a nightmare on the boards for opponents, allowing just 32.9 defensive rebounds a game to rank second in the league only behind the Lakers.
Another advantage that after all these years I think is still overlooked is the difficulty in playing in altitude in Denver. If current seedings hold, the Nuggets will possess home-court advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs, and I think the term is relevant more so in Denver than possibly anywhere else in the NBA, especially in the early rounds when games are more crammed into shorter time frames. Late in the season when players have 80+ games behind them, the players with better conditioning can’t be overlooked as holding an advantage.
Assuming the Nuggets can advance to the Western Conference Finals, at the long odds of 25 to 1, ample hedging opportunities will exist if you make your bet large enough. I expect them to be even money in a series against either Los Angeles team, meaning you can bet against them in both the Western Conference Finals and potential NBA Finals, and still turn a profit.