Way-Too-Early Look at 2019-20 Prop Bets
Way-Too-Early Look at 2019-20 Prop Bets

This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.

The 2018-19 campaign just came to a close, so now's the time to call your shots for 2019-20. Many books are already offering 2019 NBA Draft and 2020 NBA Champion futures, but not much more than that. 

We. Want. More.

Why can I bet on if a human being sets foot on Mars by 2025, but not who will be MVP of the National Basketball Association next year?

So, in addition to discussing props available from a couple popular books, Alex and Nick set out to make their own. It's part personal beliefs, part "What will Vegas do?"

What bets would you take?

Zion Williamson to go No. 1 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft (-8000) (FanDuel Sportsbook)

Alex: The odds are -8000 for a reason. This isn't the time for the Pelicans to overthink things. Zion projects as a perennial All-Star at the very least, and it's possible he's the best player in the league at some point.

Nick: Zion is easily the biggest lock to go No. 1 since Davis. Coming into his freshman season, he was neck-and-neck with – if not trailing – R.J. Barrett, but from the moment Zion took over the No. 1 spot, there was never a doubt he'd relinquish it. Even in a draft with a strong No. 2 in Ja Morant, the Pelicans have given no indication they're focused on anyone but Zion.

2020 NBA Champion (Westgate)

  • Lakers: 9/2
  • Bucks, Clippers: 6/1
  • Rockets: 8/1
  • Raptors: 10/1
  • Celtics, 76ers: 12/1
  • Warriors: 14/1
  • Nuggets, Thunder: 14/1
  • Knicks: 20/1
  • Nets, Jazz, Blazers: 25/1
  • Mavericks: 40/1
  • Spurs: 50/1
  • Pacers, Magic, Pelicans: 60/1
  • Hawks, Grizzlies: 80/1

Alex: Prior to Klay Thompson's ACL tear, the Warriors were the favorites to claim the 2020 title. However, they've slid down to the sixth-best odds since. The West now feels wide open, but I'll take an Eastern Conference team to claim the Larry O'Brien trophy. 76ers at 12/1 would be my bet. I think the Sixers will bring Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler back. Though the fit of the team was often questioned, specifically the pairing of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, Philadelphia was one win away from making the Eastern Conference Finals. Talent-wise, that top-4 might be the best in the NBA no matter what else happens in free agency.

Nick: From a value perspective, the teams that jump out are the Clippers, 76ers, Nuggets and Trail Blazers. If you're like me and believe Kawhi heads to the Clippers, they're suddenly a legitimate contender and perhaps the best team in the West if they're able to pair another star with him. Even if that doesn't happen, adding Kawhi to last season's core is a massive upgrade. Denver and Portland are both (very) dark horses in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, while Philadelphia will likely bring back most of the core that took Toronto to the brink this season. Assuming Kawhi walks, the Raptors take a big step back, while Boston is also trending in that direction. With the spectre of KD and another star propelling the Knicks to the top of the East now out the window, it could be a two-team race in the East between Philly and Milwaukee.

Where will Kevin Durant sign? (Bovada)

  • Knicks -175
  • Warriors +210
  • Clippers +500
  • Nets +700
  • Lakers +750
  • Mavericks +2500

Alex: I still think the Knicks will offer Durant close to a max deal, despite the Achilles tear. It's a risk worth taking. He's one of the best scorers in NBA history, and his height and touch means his post-injury floor is still incredibly high. He's been in New York's crosshairs for what seems like ages – it would feel wrong if they dropped out of the bidding over his injury, even though it's serious.

Nick: This is an unprecedented situation, so nothing would really surprise me. Going back to Golden State is probably the safest option, but who knows if Durant wants to rehab with that medical staff or start anew elsewhere. I'd still bank on Durant ending up in New York, but it might come a year later than we initially expected.

Where will Vince Carter sign? (Bovada)

  • Raptors -500
  • Magic +650
  • Hornets +700
  • Warriors +750

Alex: Can I opt for none of the above? It wouldn't surprise me if he ended up on the Hawks again next season, and I'd argue that Atlanta should be the favorite. It seems like VC is more interested in mentoring a young team than chasing a ring. Maybe he'll sign with the Suns. They don't have enough wing depth.

Nick: Minus-500? Carter riding off into the sunset back where it all started would be incredible, and it's certainly a possibility. But at that number it's not worth any bets. Part of the reason Carter has hung around as long as he has is he continues to play integral roles for each team he joins – this isn't a Udonis Haslem situation. Over anything, I think Carter will prioritize signing with a team that can offer him a handful of minutes off the bench on most nights.

Will a human being set foot on Mars by 2025? (Bovada)

  • No -450
  • Yes +275

Alex: There was an eight-year gap from the time President John F. Kennedy announced to the public that there was a goal to put a man on the moon, and the process felt urgent due to Cold War tension. So it already feels like we're behind schedule for 2025. Sure, there's some international tension, but not "We might get nuked tomorrow" tension. Plus, back in 2010, President Barack Obama predicted that a manned mission to Mars wouldn't occur until the mid-2030s. Betting No -450 would be the most confident bet I've ever made.

Nick: Yes. And that human being will be Kyrie Irving

Editor's note: All remaining odds are self-created

2020 Eastern Conference Champion? 

  • Bucks -200
  • 76ers +450
  • Raptors +450
  • Celtics +600
  • Nets +700
  • Knicks +800

Alex: I already covered why I think the 76ers can win the title, so I'll choose a different bet here. Bucks -200. Milwaukee is expected to bring back essentially the entire team (maybe minus Brook Lopez, which we shouldn't entirely overlook), and continuity matters. Despite a disappointing playoffs, it's tough to look past last year's 60 wins.

Nick: Like I said above, I think the Sixers are the best value here, even if the Bucks – assuming most of their core remains intact – are the most likely team to win the conference. The Knicks and Nets will need to make major, Durant-less splashes in free agency to jump into true contention, and I expect both Boston and Toronto to take significant steps back.

2020 Western Conference Champion

  • Lakers +150
  • Clippers +250
  • Rockets +300
  • Nuggets +400
  • Thunder +500
  • Warriors +600

Alex: Durant's and Thompson's respective injuries have created a massive opportunity for any team with a puncher's chance to claim the West. Free agency will be a massive determiner for who starts the season as the favorite. But, for right now, Nuggets +X would be my favorite bet. Jokic played like a top-5 player last season, and the Nuggets managed to win 54 games with Monte Morris third on the team in total minutes. A healthier year for the Nuggets could mean pushing past the 55-win mark, and that's good enough for me to strongly consider them at +X.

Nick: Golden State losing Durant and Thompson for most, if not all, of next season is a crushing blow that I think puts them out of the title race for 2020. I trust that Daryl Morey will find a way to re-tool around Harden, but in terms of value I really like Denver and the Clippers. The Nuggets may lose Paul Millsap, but they shouldn't really fall off much, if at all, while the Clippers, to me, are the favorites to land Kawhi Leonard. If they're able to snag Leonard and another upper-tier free agent, I like their chances. If the Lakers are able to get the Davis deal done, they'll be right in the thick of things, as well, but that's not an organization I necessarily trust to surround that duo with the right pieces.

2020 Most Valuable Player

Alex: Giannis should be the favorite, but I'd be happy to get Curry at the third-best odds. He's won it twice before, and the presumed absence of KD should result in Curry being the true focal point of the Warriors' offense once again. He even averaged 33.0 points and 5.6 assists with Durant off the court this season. Age is working against Curry, as he'll be in his age 31 season – the most recent player at least 30 years old to win MVP was Steve Nash in 2005-06 – but his game isn't predicated on top-flight athleticism.

Nick: LeBron at +1000 is intriguing, if only because he entered last season at +300, and I think he'll be in a much better basketball situation this time around. Kawhi at +450 is also interesting. Wherever he ends up, he'll enter next season with considerable momentum, though he'll have to play 70-plus games to be a real contender. Jokic at +600 is another good bet. Both he and Embiid may be next in line, especially if Davis teams up with LeBron in Los Angeles.

Where will Kemba Walker sign?

  • Hornets -110
  • Knicks +120
  • Lakers +350
  • Nets +500
  • Clippers +750

Alex: Maybe Kemba is one of those All-Stars who will ride things out with the team who drafted him. He'd go down as the best Hornet of all time, and that means something. But it just feels like he should be on the Lakers with LeBron and have a chance to compete for a title after having played in only 11 playoff games across his eight-year career. You could convince me to bet the Clippers, too, but only if another max player got there first.

Nick: While he seems more than content to give Charlotte every last opportunity to build a contender around him, I'm not sure if there's a realistic path for that to happen. If Walker does leave, he'd be a lot of (hypothetical) fun alongside Kawhi or LeBron in Los Angeles. Given what we think we know about Kyrie's future, the Nets seem like an unlikely option for Walker, but I certainly wouldn't rule out the Knicks.

Where will Klay Thompson sign?

  • Warriors -1500
  • Clippers +1800
  • Knicks +2000
  • Nets +2000
  • Lakers +2500

Alex: It would be shocking if Thompson didn't finish his career out in Golden State, and I think his ACL tear only cements further that he'll sign his next deal with the Warriors. I assume the organization will still offer him the max, or very close to it. It's still hard to believe we might not see KD or Klay at all next season.

Nick: This one is Warriors all the way for me, and the torn ACL only adds more confidence that he'll stay home. It'd be a lot of fun to see Thompson in another setting, but there's almost no reason to believe he's searching for greener pastures.

Where will Kyrie Irving sign?

  • Nets -120
  • Knicks +130
  • Lakers +400
  • Clippers +550
  • Celtics +800

Alex: To recap, after the Nets made a trade to essentially open up two max slots, Irving dropped his agent in favor of the New-York-based Roc Nation Sports amidst Boston's trade discussions for AD. Subtle. Every indication is that Irving and Brooklyn have been eyeing each other up and, at this point, it would be surprising if he went elsewhere. Or, at least somewhere not based in New York.

Nick: See above.

Where will Jimmy Butler sign?

  • 76ers -250
  • Knicks +300
  • Nets +300
  • Clippers +650
  • Lakers +650

Alex: I think the 76ers and Butler will work something out. If Harris returns, too, Philly's core is one of the best in the league. It was last year. The Sixers should want to keep that together, and Butler should want a chance at a ring. Chances are, he'll get overpaid for his age and injury history, but when a team is theoretically as close to a title as the 76ers, overpaying top talent comes with the territory.

Nick: My guess is the Sixers prioritize Butler over Tobias Harris, and while I'm not sure that's the wisest long-term play, I can't fault the Sixers for going all-in at a time when the East may be vulnerable. If Butler doesn't stay in Philly, I like the odds for both LA teams. It's almost too easy to envision the Lakers talking themselves into Butler.

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Alex Barutha
Alex is RotoWire's NBA Assistant Editor. He writes articles about daily fantasy, year-long fantasy and sports betting. You can hear him on the RotoWire NBA Podcast, Sirius XM, DraftKings Live and other platforms. Vince Carter and Alex both first dunked during their respective sophomore years of high school.
Nick Whalen
RotoWire's NBA Editor and host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Nick was awarded the FSWA Best Podcast -- All Sports award in 2017 and 2018. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.
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