Editor’s note: This is the first in a weekly series called “Betting Nuggets” that will offer expert picks and tips when betting on Denver Nuggets lines and props. Make PlayColorado your Tuesday destination for all information pertaining to the Nuggets.
Denver Nuggets odds
To begin, let’s just get this fact out of the way; the Denver Nuggets have the requisite talent to win 48 games or more. The current season win total sits at . The combination of Nikola Jokić, the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player, and the effortless scoring of Michael Porter Jr. is a devastating 1-2 punch. And that is without discussing the impending return of Jamal Murray from his ACL tear and the depth of their roster.
Still, there are variables that are difficult to account for. Will the Nuggets rest their core rotation more often this season or will they continue fighting to win each time they step onto the court? For years, the Nuggets have battled game after game after game, but after running out of gas in the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs against the Phoenix Suns last season, Denver may elect to rest their players more often even if it means additional losses during the regular season. That could be the price to achieve a higher level of postseason success and Denver seems willing to pay it.
Aaron Gordon affect
Additionally, Aaron Gordon’s contributions are still somewhat theoretical. Gordon has made no statistical impact on the Nuggets defensive rating which held firm at 110.4 with or without him on the floor. To be clear, bringing Gordon back was the right decision and the sample size is too small to make any sweeping declarations. But putting large amounts of faith in Gordon’s production has the potential to backfire.
Murray might also take a while to get back into form after his rehabilitation from ACL surgery. There are also concerns with the bench’s ability to score and the overall defensive consistency now that Denver’s de-facto defensive coordinator Wes Unseld Jr. is in Washington leading the Wizards as a head coach.
With the concerns outweighing the available solutions combined with the Nuggets newfound perspective on resting their players, taking Denver to win less than 48 games is a smart play.
One of the other Nuggets futures betting markets to keep an eye on:
Denver is to make the NBA Playoffs. That’s not great value so it’s worth it to find other markets to play.
Nikola Jokić’s MVP odds
At first glance, it seems absurd that the league’s reigning MVP only has the seventh-best odds at winning the award again at . But winning consecutive MVP awards has only been accomplished by 12 players in the history of the league: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
For Jokić to join that incredible list of players — all of whom are in the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame or on the trajectory to be inducted once their careers have come to an end — it will take a Herculean effort.
Could Jokić play near every game, keep Denver afloat on his own with Murray out and carry the Nuggets to a top-four seed in the Western Conference while leading the Nuggets in points, rebounds and assists as he did last year? Of course, and that would put him right at the top of the MVP ladder. But Jokić and the Nuggets have vocalized a willingness to rest more often this year to keep guys fresh for the playoffs. For that singular reason, it makes sense that Jokić is seventh in MVP odds.
If someone was looking for a high-value MVP bet, Jokic perfectly fits the bill at those odds, but calling it a safe bet would be a stretch.
Michael Porter Jr.’s Most Improved Player odds
Michael Porter Jr. is entering a season full of expectations.
Not only is he tied for the best NBA betting odds to win Most Improved Player with Kevin Porter Jr. of the Houston Rockets, but he is also being asked to step into the role of the Nuggets second-best player with Murray still recovering from his ACL tear.
On one hand, the situation that Porter is walking into this season is tailor-made to win the Most Improved Player award. Additionally, head coach Michael Malone has already said that he plans to stagger Jokić and Porter to always keep one of the two on the court at all times. Porter playing with the bench would provide him with the ultimate green light to get more shots up.
On the other hand, with all of these expectations on Porter’s shoulders, there is a disaster potential. If he is unable to perform at a high level, Denver’s struggles may directly or indirectly be Porter’s fault. The simple truth is that the Nuggets are relying on a leap from Porter in order to continue contending for a title with Murray still out. If Porter is unable to carry that burden, his odds of winning Most Improved Player would take a drastic hit.
Porter has the stage set for him to take a leap under some of the brightest lights on a contending team who is missing their second-best player. Sometimes things are just that simple which makes betting Porter to win Most Improved Player is a good value.
Nuggets vs. Suns odds
Let’s look ahead to the Nuggets season opener in Phoenix against the Suns to see what value can be found.
Overlooking the obvious risk factor of an opening night game, there are a handful of reasons the Nuggets are not in a position to cover. The most obvious is the same issue that plagued them in their playoff series last season; their inability to contain opposing guards on the perimeter generating open corner 3-pointers. To make matters worse, Malone has not been thrilled with the effort or urgency in their practices leading up to their battle in the desert.
Betting the Nuggets to cover is risky and it seems bettors agree considering the line started at +5.5. The best value would be to trust the Suns to cover -6 at home.
Early season games — especially season openers on the road against the likes of Chris Paul — tend to lend themselves to being high-turnover affairs. Because of those turnovers, and the ensuing fast pace style of play, taking the over seems like a safe decision. Of course, early-season sloppiness could throw a wrench into that equation, but the offensive firepower for each team paired with Denver’s less than stellar perimeter containment and propensity to create and give away turnovers is a healthy environment for the over to hit.
The same reasons that betting the Nuggets to cover the spread is risky applies to the moneyline as well. Denver is not trending in a positive direction if Malone’s comments are true. Without any other data to analyze, the safe bet is taking the Suns -240 even if the value is not fantastic.