Beyond Knicks and Nets: Picking NBA Individual Award Winners

The first thing you need to know about wagering on the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets is that the best long-term wagers are only available across state lines. Those bets are on individual awards, and if you believe that Kyrie Irving is MVP material, you’d better get to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Connecticut pronto before his odds drop from 100-1.

The biggest mystery for Brooklyn this season is whether Steve Nash will last long as coach after Kevin Durant called for the firings of Nash and general manager Sean Marks over the summer. Overseas books are posting prop wagers on which happens first: Nash getting fired, or Russell Westbrook getting traded, so the NBA season if not exactly a sea of tranquility on either coast.

With the Knicks, we pretty much know what we are going to get: A team capable of finishing top 10 and making the play-in tournament at the very least. They open on the road and on a nationally televised ESPN game at Memphis on Wednesday night as a 6 1/2-point underdog, and we shall quickly see how capable Jalen Brunson is as he goes up against Ja Morant, the winner of last season’s Most Improved Player award.

The action starts on Wednesday

— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 17, 2022

Brunson is among the favorites to be this year’s Most Improved Player, as is teammate R.J. Barrett. Brunson is on the board at Fan Duel as the +2400 fifth choice, just behind Zion Williamson at +1800 — the same odds as Barrett. The favorites are Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards (+850) and Philadelphia’s Tyrese Maxey (+1200). And as we learned two seasons ago when Julius Randle won that award, it tends to go to a team that overachieves. So if the Knicks are top 4 in the East as they were in 2020, those odds are enticing. And if Obi Toppin ever becomes something special, now would be a good time with his MIP odds at +10000.

The thought here regarding the Knicks is that they are more like an 8, 9 or 10 seed when the season is all said and done, and Brooklyn’s Cam Thomas may be a better Most Improved Player bet. That’s because he is going to get playing time to start the season with Joe Harris and Seth Curry sidelined by injuries for the Nets. Thomas is on the board for +13000 at Fan Duel, where Ben Simmons is +10000 in the same category.

And heck, if Simmons can come back from a lost season in which his mental health and his lost confidence kept him on the shelf all season, and if he can become the same type of nightly triple-double threat that he was three years ago, that is not the worst flier wager in the history of flier wagers.

Season premiere of The Bridge.

Dropping tomorrow.

— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) October 17, 2022

The Nets open at home Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans as a 3-point favorite, and they are on the board at +900 to emerge as this season’s champion, which is within their grasp if they can truly put the drama of this past summer behind them. Only the Milwaukee Bucks (+550), Boston Celtics (+600), Los Angeles Clippers (+650), and defending champion Golden State Warriors (+700) have shorter odds, and we should see those odds stay in that same range for quite some time. An 82-game season has numerous unforeseen twists and turns, and as we are seeing in the baseball playoffs, regular-season success is not a great indicator of what will go down in the postseason.

What Is The Best Wagering Strategy For NBA Games?

Because of the cross-border travel needed to wager on individual player awards, it will not always be easy for New Yorkers to play those markets on a regular basis. But because we have trains, buses, bridges and tunnels connecting New York with neighboring states, we suggest that those in the New York metropolitan area keep their EZ-Pass accounts current and learn how to take the PATH train to Hoboken or Jersey City.

For times when that is not possible (yes, we are all very busy), individual player props are often the way to go when wagering the Knicks and Nets.

As an example, if you believe Durant scoring at least 29, Simmons handing out at least 8 assists and Royce O’Neale making at least three 3-pointers are all likely to happen, a same game parlay wager of $10 would return $122. So the trick, it says here, is to find a combination of individual accomplishments that you believe will happen, and go for a bigger score than simply wagering one or two game lines.

With nine companies competing for customers in the state of New York, there are better same-game parlay options than what existed back in January when online sports gambling began in New York. So go ahead and take advantage.

Look at it this way: If you find a +1200 parlay seven times in a week and lose six of them, that seventh — the winner — puts you in the black for the week. It is the best strategy we can suggest to get around the age-old rule that “The House Always Wins.” That expression is very true, but savvy gamblers are the exception.


— FanDuel (@FanDuel) October 18, 2022

What Are the Best NBA Bets To Avoid?

Well, Willis Reed is not walking through that tunnel (the one at Madison Square Garden that no longer exists), and it is a rule of thumb that as long as James Dolan owns the team, the championship drought that has existed since 1973 will continue.

So if you are thinking about dropping some of your hard-earned money on the Knicks to win the championship at odds of +12000, we have one word: DON’T. Buy a Treasury bond instead. It is one of the few guaranteed winners out there.

Imagine having Knicks +12.5 vs the Grizzlies on April 7, 2017

ALL TIME bad beat

— Barstool Sportsbook (@BSSportsbook) May 18, 2022

We would also counsel readers to avoid picking just one game per night. Yes, that is the way your granddad did it with the bookie, but he did not live in the smartphone age and did not have the thousands of options that are out there these days. One and done is boring. The winning formula is the parlay, and we encourage you to open multiple accounts in multiple states so that you can shop around.

Brand loyalty is good when it comes to cereal. It is bad when it comes to betting, because a competitive market means there are better odds available at different books. The nine that are operating in New York are DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars, BetMGM, BetRivers, PointsBet, ResortsWorld, WynnBet and BallyBet.

Download the apps, and if you are a technophobe, then do two things: Take your laptop across the border to open an account in neighboring states, and have someone from Gen Y or Z help you figure out your apps. Those young folks may not know how to make a phone call, but they can do things virtually that Boomers and post-Boomers cannot. Make them a resource. It is a bad bet to not call upon the knowledge of those younger and more adept at navigating a smartphone.

What Player Futures are Appealing?

If you think Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors can lead the league in scoring, that wager is available at +2200 across the border with Bet365. If you think LeBron James will end the season as the league leader, he is at 20-1. James was in the mix last season until the final weekend, and ultimately did not play enough games to qualify, finishing with an average of 30.3 to Joel Embiid’s 30.6.

Defensive Player of the Year often goes to the league leader in blocked shots, and last season was an outlier year, as Marcus Smart took home the award to become the first guard to win since Gary Payton in 1996. Rudy Gobert is favored at +400,  but ex-Net Jarrett Allen of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who averaged 1.6 blocks when he played for Brooklyn before being traded to Cleveland, is out there at +2800 in this category. Mo Bamba of Orlando, who averaged 1.7 blocks last season, is 66-1 to lead the NBA in blocks this season. Under the “what the heck” category, each of those players was deemed worthy of a $10 bonus money wager that came from opening an account with Bet365 in New Jersey and making a $1 qualifying bet (Giants ML vs. Packers two weeks ago, which hit.)

As we have explained here before, the trick to getting bonus funds is to read the fine print. At Bet 365, for example, bonus funds that lay dormant for 90 or more days are forfeited, even if they have already been wagered in the futures market. So if you go across state lines to open accounts and play individual awards futures, bring a pen and paper with you and write yourself a reminder note.

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