NBA Futures: Two Division Longshots to Back

There is value on these two teams to win their respective divisions

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The 2023-24 NBA season is right around the corner which means we're starting to see the futures market fill out a bit more. Win totals and awards markets are always fun, but I have my eye on two division plays that I see a ton of value in. Scroll down to see which division underdogs I'll be backing to finish the season on top.

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The 2023-24 NBA season is right around the corner which means we're starting to see the futures market fill out a bit more. Win totals and awards markets are always fun, but I have my eye on two division plays that I see a ton of value in. Scroll down to see which division underdogs I'll be backing to finish the season on top.

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Kings to Win Pacific +900, Thunder to Win Northwest +800 (DraftKings)

The Kings are picked to finish last in the Pacific Division this upcoming season. When you look at the other teams in the division - Suns, Warriors, Lakers, Clippers - it makes sense. Talent-wise, Sacramento is definitely at the bottom of the totem pole. But we're talking about winning the division, not the Western Conference or the NBA title. I would never recommend betting on the Kings to win either of those, but I digress.

While the other teams in the division have a ton of star power, they are also really old by NBA standards. I mean, LeBron James is 38 years old and is entering his 21st season. Sheesh! The biggest liability when it comes to these players and teams reaching their goals of making it to the Finals is their health. How many times have you heard someone say, "If only Anthony Davis could stay healthy," or "The Clippers can win the title if Kawhi can stay on the floor." I know the NBA just put new rules in place to try and limit load management, but I still think teams will find a way around those.

Plus, winning the division title doesn't mean anything to the top teams. I truly don't think LeBron or KD care about a Pacific Division banner hanging from their rafters. They want the big one. But for young teams like the Kings and Thunder, winning the division is a massive deal. After all, how long has the Thunder been in a "rebuild?" It feels like forever. You don't think young players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and or Josh Giddy want to be able to say that their team is relevant again? That's a big deal for them whether they'd be willing to publicly admit it or not.

Now, I know many might argue that OKC doesn't stand a chance with how dominant the Nuggets have been in recent years. They're the defending NBA champs with a two-time MVP and they won the division last year. My argument against Denver is that we could see a championship hangover. Maybe they start the season slowly, allowing other teams to get a few games up on them, and then prioritize health during the back half of the year and into the playoffs. Plus, there isn't any value in backing the Nuggets at -475 and the Timberwolves' roster is a mess. As a Minnesota native, I have zero trust in that organization. On paper, Minnesota has a more talented roster than OKC, but those players don't know how to play together and that's going to cause them to lose a lot of games.

My only concern in backing Sacramento to win their division is the fact that they won it last year. For a team as inexperienced as the Kings, winning back-to-back seasons is going to be tough, especially considering that was the first time they had done it in 20 years. However, on the other hand, they did get a taste of what it takes to be on top and maybe that propels them to get back.

Whatever argument you want to make, the fact of the matter is that regular-season wins or the division title doesn't mean anything to these other teams. They're going to rest players whenever possible, experiment with different lineups, or even revamp things altogether if what they have isn't working. As long as they make the playoffs and are healthy at that time, nothing else matters. For Sacramento and OKC, that simply isn't the case. They are going to be motivated all season and motivation is what's going to cash these tickets.

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