NBA Odds: Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving Make It Difficult To Book Futures

Brooklyn is favored to win the NBA title, but the betting price has risen


Nov 10, 2021

Nobody knows when Ben Simmons or Kyrie Irving will return to the NBA hardwood.

Both players are multimillion-dollar elephants in the room of a multibillion-dollar league and the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets have absolutely no idea when they’ll have any superstar solutions.

Booking regular season bets on Sixers and Nets games is relatively easy for now.

Simmons and Irving are out until further notice and all the betting markets are calculated that way. If anything should change, though, bookmakers will adjust their power ratings and flip on the switch.

“The day-to-day stuff is much simpler,” PointsBet trading director Jay Croucher told NESN. “Kyrie is worth 2.5 points to the betting line and all that value comes on offense. Ben Simmons is a bit more complicated, but we have him worth about 1.5 to 2 points. Simmons is such a negative in the half court on offense.”

The puzzle gets a lot more complex when it comes to booking future bets on conference and championship markets. It’s a really interesting balancing act because sportsbooks have to weigh expectations and liability. Remember, bettors have been firing Brooklyn futures since the summer under the impression that Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden would run circles around the league.

“Things get difficult in the futures market,” Croucher explained. “Particularly with Brooklyn. As a trading team, we thought that a bet on Brooklyn was purely a bet on its three stars being healthy come playoff time. The level of talent on that team surpasses everyone else. But now it’s really just a guessing game.

“We’re still baking in some percentage chance that Irving will return, because it’s not 100% that he doesn’t. So we still make the Nets the favorite and they could still win it if it’s just Durant and Harden. But Kyrie puts them over the top. We drifted the price up from +200 to +325 ($100 wins $325). There’s a chance they get nothing from Irving’s slot.”

Croucher said it’s easier for his shop to manage the Sixers situation.

“There’s probably a little more bit certainty with Philadelphia,” he said. “It’s more likely that the Sixers get something this season out of the Ben Simmons slot, whether it’s Simmons or not. I know (Sixers team president) Daryl Morey says he’s prepared to let this go for four years, but our expectation is that Simmons will either come back, play for Philly and be a positive impact or they’ll trade him.”

Superstars run the show in the Association and it’s been that way for quite some time. I remember being in Las Vegas during the 2016-17 campaign when the Cleveland Cavaliers ruled out Irving, LeBron James and Kevin Love at the last minute before a regular-season game. Bookmakers didn’t know what to do, but they did their best.

The betting line moved around 11 points, but the situation was truly impossible to quantify.

“From a trading perspective, the NBA is harder to manage than all the other American sports combined,” Croucher admitted. “The injury element and also the motivation make it so tough. In the NFL, you generally know who’s going to be playing three hours before the game. And even if you don’t, you know both teams will be highly incentivized because there are only 17 regular season games.

“In the NBA, you’re factoring in rest and travel and player availability. Did a team go to double overtime the night before? What time did the plane land in the morning? There are a lot of things to juggle. The NBA is so player-centric and if a guy like Joel Embiid is questionable — which feels like 98% of the time — everything changes when he’s not in the lineup.

“The spread changes. The moneyline changes. The total changes. All the Sixers props go haywire. Everything goes to hell when a superstar player gets unexpectedly ruled out.”

Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images

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