2023 NBA Awards Predictions
With sports fans focused on baseball (Aaron Judge, anyone?) and pro and college football, it’s hard to believe that the NBA preseason is already here (it’s still September, people) and will get underway Friday in Tokyo where the defending NBA-champion Golden State Warriors will face the Washington Wizards with a pair of games in front of Japanese fans.
The first game is at 6 a.m. ET/3 a.m. PT on Friday, Sept. 30. The second one tips off at 1 a.m. ET/10 p.m. PT on Saturday, Oct. 1.
So it’s time to start thinking about a team’s possible potential in terms of total wins and losses, and how to bet accordingly, as well as thinking about who might take home the NBA’s top individual awards--but also consider these best bets for win totals in 2022-23.
The odds are courtesy of DraftKings, which is one of the best sportsbooks out there. You can also place your wagers with any of these New Jersey online casinos.
Coach of the Year
The pick: Chris Finch, Timberwolves (+1000)
As you’ll see here soon, I’m going all-in on Minnesota. The Timberwolves, who finished 46-36 last season before winning a play-in game over the Kawhi Leonard-less Clippers and then getting bounced by the Grizzlies, are currently listed as winners of just 48 or 49 wins in the West. Nonsense. This is at least a 50-win team and Finch seems like the right guy to guide them to the next level.
Most Improved Player
The pick: Anthony Edwards, Timberwolves (+1000)
Now here’s something scary: A leaner, meaner, more muscular (11 more pounds and zero body fat added) and motivated Edwards, who blossomed into a star last season, his second in the league. After the T-Wolves were eliminated in last year’s playoffs by the Grizzlies, Edwards has vowed to take Minnesota to the next level alongside Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns. That’s a fearsome threesome. Edwards, who averaged 21 points a game last season and has made leaps in his game in each of his first two years in the league, needs to become more mature (as evidenced by his anti-gay comments which resulted in a $40,000 fine) and also his defense. But the sky’s the limit for the No. 1 overall pick in 2020 who just turned 21 in August.
Sixth Man of the Year
The pick: Malcolm Brogdon, Celtics (+1200)
These are long odds and Golden State’s Jordan Poole (+450) and Miami’s Tyler Herro (+500), last year’s winner of this award, are the two clear favorites, but here’s my take: I think both of those become starters this season. Brogdon could thrive with the Celtics as the first guy off the bench. The theory is that the 29-year-old, who played a career-low 36 games last season and hasn’t played over 60 games for each of the last three seasons, will be healthy and productive with a bit less playing time. Brogdon has always been a starter but since his body has broken down he’s now embracing his new role in Boston. It’s worth a small sprinkle at +1200.
Defensive Player of the Year
The pick: Rudy Gobert, Timberwolves (+425)
Gobert has won the award three times and he’ll be hungry like a wolf after being traded from Utah for a boatload of draft picks. He’ll want to prove he was worth it while also chasing his fourth DPOY honor, which would tie him with Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace for most all-time with four each.
Rookie of the Year
The pick: Jaden Ivey, Pistons (+700)
No. 1 overall pick and ROY favorite Paolo Banchero should have a magical rookie season in Orlando and Sacramento’s Keegan Murray (+450) and Houston’s Jabari Smith Jr. (+700) should both have solid seasons, but I think Ivey, who could be the next Ja Morant, is going to run his unbelievably fast motor in Detroit and blow people away. He’ll fit in beautifully with backcourt running mate Cade Cunningham. M
The pick: Luka Dončić (+425)
Speaking of Morant, I was tempted to pick him at an incredible +1500 odds, but I think he’s a year away. Health issues are always a concern and Doncic is no exception (he’s missed an average of 18 games in each of the past three seasons) but he’s improved every year in every category during his four seasons in the league – and he’s still just 23 years old. For the past three preseasons, he’s been listed as the favorite to win the league’s top individual honor. With Jalen Brunson off to New York after signing with the Knicks, Luka will need to carry even more of the scoring load this season (he was third in the league last season with 28.4 ppg). I think he’s poised to join Dirk Nowitzki as the only regular-season NBA MVPs in franchise history.