NBA Futures Betting

Basketball futures bets are wagers made in advance of an end-of-season outcome for a particular player or team, such as winning an NBA or NCAA championship or winning the NBA’s MVP award.

Futures bets can be placed before the start of a season or during the season and odds are updated as the season goes along. Futures betting is one of the most popular types of wagering, not just when it comes to basketball, but across all team sports. The most common NBA futures bet is a wager on who will win the NBA championship that season. When odds are set at the beginning of each season, sportsbooks take into account a team’s performance from the prior season, any off-season signings of star players and many other factors to determine who the favorites to win the championship are.

Since so many things have to break right in order for a team to actually win the NBA finals, odds for pre-season futures bets on an NBA champion are typically pretty enticing. NCAA futures betting on college basketball works much the same way. NBA and NCAA futures bets can also be made on conference or division champions as well as on individual players winning a certain award or reaching a certain statistical milestone.

The most common NBA futures bet for individual players is a wager on who will win the MVP award that season. Pre-season odds are set for MVP and are updated as the season goes on.

This guide will explain what exactly basketball futures betting is, how oddsmakers determine the most likely outcomes, how bets are won and lost and how you can get in on the action.

What are NBA Futures Bets?

NBA futures bets, simply put, are wagers on future outcomes for a team or player during the NBA season. Unlike bets made on specific, upcoming games, futures bets are made well in advance of the event or outcome in question.

The most popular NBA futures bet is a wager on who will win the NBA championship that season, but futures bets can also be made on which team will win their division or conference. NBA futures bets are often made before a season even starts, but futures bets can be made well into the season as well, however, championship odds are liable to change drastically over the course of a season.

For example, the pre-season betting favorite to win the NBA championship this year was the Brooklyn Nets (+225) followed by the Los Angeles Lakers (+350). While the Nets could still win the NBA championship this year, the Lakers have officially been eliminated from postseason contention. Currently, the favorites to win the NBA championship are the Phoenix Suns at +275, but their pre-season odds were considerably higher, at +1600.

NBA Futures Examples

Here’s an example of a pre-season NBA futures bet:

Below, you’ll see the pre-season NBA futures odds for the 2022 NBA championship. 


NBA Title Betting 2021-22

Brooklyn Nets +225

Los Angeles Lakers +350 

Milwaukee Bucks +800

Golden State Warriors +1000

Utah Jazz +1400

Phoenix Suns +1600

Los Angeles Clippers +1800


Odds for the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks were placed at +800, meaning that if you placed a $100 dollar wager on them during the pre-season, you’d win $900 if they go on to win the championship, of which $800 would be profit. The advantage to making a futures bet in the pre-season is the favorable odds. In keeping with the Bucks example, a $100 bet made today on the Bucks to win the NBA title at their current odds of +550 would only net you $650, of which $550 would be profit.

Once a futures bet is made, you’ll just have to sit back and wait for the outcome of your bet, which can be the entire course of the season if you place a bet during the pre-season. In this way, futures bets can be nerve-racking, if, for example, the team you bet on is struggling to make the playoffs, or it can be exhilarating if your team is outperforming expectations. 

One thing to always remember when betting on NBA futures is that different oddsmakers and sportsbooks will offer different odds, so it’s worth shopping around a bit before placing your bet. Finding the best odds will ensure maximum pay out if your bet is successful.


NBA Players Futures 

NBA futures bets can also be made on players winning a certain end-of-season award or reaching a certain milestone. The most common and popular example of this type of futures betting is wagering on who will win the MVP award at the conclusion of the regular season. 

When betting on player futures, the same concepts apply as betting on a team outcome. Preseason odds are set by the various sportsbooks and bets can be placed on any player in the league to win MVP. As with teams, favorites are established with lower odds based on previous performances, statistical resumes and expected improvements in skill or team success. For the second year in a row, the pre-season odds-on favorite for NBA MVP was Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic. 

His odds were set at +400, meaning a successful $100 bet would win you $500 ($400 in profit). Though Doncic is still thought to be in the MVP conversation after a stellar second half of the season, the current favorite has shifted to Denver Nuggets big man and last season’s MVP Nikola Jokic. Odds makers are quite confident that Jokic will end up winning the award because his odds are now set at -250, meaning you’d need to place a bet of $250 in order to win $100. Jokic’s preseason MVP odds were significantly higher, at +1500, meaning a $100 bet in the preseason would cash out at $1,600 ($1,500 profit). 

NBA futures bets on players can net big payouts but can also involve a lot more risk than betting on team success. When betting on a team to win a championship or division title, if one player goes down with injury, other players have the ability to step into larger roles and the team could keep winning even when not at full strength. A good example of this is the team with the best record in the league at the time of writing, the Phoenix Suns, who were without many important players for long stretches this year, including Chris Paul, Cam Johnson and Devin Booker. 

The team was able to mitigate this by utilizing their depth and continued winning despite the injuries. When betting on a player to win MVP, if they go down with an injury during the season, there’s no way to effectively replace their value and keep them in the MVP conversation. 

Earlier this season, Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant was one of the favorites to win MVP as he was putting up high points, assists and rebounding numbers while leading the Nets without co-star Kyrie Irving who was ineligible to play. Durant would succumb to an MCL injury in late January, not playing again until March, damaging his MVP case beyond repair. 

NBA player futures bets can also be made on the Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year and all other major end-of-season awards. Certain sportsbooks also offer futures bets on players hitting a statistical milestone, such as the number of triple-doubles a player will achieve by season’s-end. 

NBA Futures Odds Explained 

One of the most important things to understand when considering an NBA futures bet, be it on a team or individual player, is the odds being offered. In the United States and Canada, odds for NBA futures are usually shown as ‘American’ odds. 

American odds are shown either as a plus (+150) or a minus (-150). If the odds are minus (-), that represents the amount of money you’ll need to wager in order to win $100 (-150 means you must bet $150 to win $100). Minus odds are assigned to the favorites, as oddsmakers believe that team or player is the most likely to be successful. 

If the odds are plus (+), that represents the amount of money that you would earn on a $100 bet that is successful (+150 means you’d make $150 on a $100 wager). For smaller bets, it’s as simple as taking off a zero if necessary – a successful  $10 wager on +300 odds would win you $40, of which $30 is profit. 


2021-22 NBA MVP Odds

  • Nikola Jovic (Denver) -380

  • Joel Embiid (Philadelphia) +265

  • Giannis Anteokounmpo (Milwaukee) +800

  • Devin Booker (Phoenix) +7500

  • Luka Doncic (Dallas) +15000

  • Chris Paul (Phoenix) +40000

  • Ja Morant (Memphis) +50000

  • Kevin Durant (Brooklyn) +50000

  • DeMar DeRozan (Chicago) +50000

  • Jayson Tatum (Boston) +50000

  • Steph Curry (Golden State) +60000

  • LeBron James (LA Lakers) +100000

Odds provided by DraftKings as of Apr 10, 2022.


When shopping around for odds, it’s important to remember that oddsmakers are generally very good at what they do. They use complex algorithms and the most up-to-date data to determine the odds for every individual game and futures bet. 

With this in mind, you can use odds to determine the implied probability of any given outcome. There is a simple formula used to determine the implied probability of a wager and it is as follows:

Divide your stake by the total payout you’d receive if your bet was successful, then multiply that by 100. An example of this would be if a $100 bet was placed on +300 odds. The total payout for a successful bet would be $400 ($100 stake returned plus $300 profit). If you divide 100 by 400, you get 0.25, which, if you multiply by 100, gives you 25. Therefore, +300 odds gives an implied probability of 25%. 


NCAA Basketball Futures 

Futures bets can also be placed on teams or players for the NCAA basketball season. NCAA futures bets can be made on conference champions as well as national champions. Player futures bets can be placed on national or conference players of the year, as well as any other individual awards. 

Odds are presented in the same way as they are in the NBA, but there are a few distinct differences when betting futures in the NCAA. Firstly, when placing a bet on who the national champion will be (the most popular NCAA futures bet), odds are much more enticing, however accurately predicting a winner is extremely difficult. 

The division 1 NCAA basketball season ends with a single-elimination tournament of 64 teams, known as ‘March Madness.’ Favorites are established at the beginning of the tournament, however it’s not uncommon for even the heaviest favorites to be knocked out of the tournament as soon as the first round. 

In 2018, the Virginia Cavaliers became the first 1-seed to lose to a 16-seeded team when they fell 74-54 to the UMBC retrievers in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The moneyline odds for UMBC in that game were set at +2000, or an implied winning probability of about 4%. That game was a perfect example of how risky futures betting in the NCAA can be, but also how lucrative it can be if your wager is successful.


Basketball Futures Pros/Cons 

Like all wagering, futures betting has some pros and cons.



  •  Generally speaking, futures bets allow you to access some very good-value odds, which means you’d get much bigger returns if your futures wager is successful. 
  • Placing a futures bet on a team or player in the pre-season allows you to root for that team or player for the entirety of a season, making each game that much more exciting and keeping you invested in a team or player for months. 
  • Placing a futures bet on a team you really believe in can be more rewarding than placing a single-game bet on that team, since an individual game involves so much variability. If you decide to bet on an individual game during the regular season, your team’s best player could be resting or out with injury, the team could be on the second night of a back-to-back or the other team could just be a bad matchup for them. Futures bets allow you to bet on the long-term success of a team, minimizing the unpredictability that exists when wagering on a single game. 



  • Futures bets, particularly pre-season ones, can be risky because a team could look very different at the start of a season than it does towards the end. A good example of this is this year’s (21/22) Brooklyn Nets team, who were the preseason favorites to win the NBA title at +225. Those odds were set in part because the Nets had three of the most dangerous offensive players in the league; James Harden, Kyr-ie Irving and Kevin Durant. When those three played together during the previous season, they were an offensive juggernaut, going 13-3 and looking nearly unstoppable. Fast forward to this season’s NBA trade deadline, and James Harden was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons, who has yet to suit up for the Nets this year. Currently, the Nets chances of winning the NBA title are significantly lower, as they likely won’t have home court advantage for any round of the playoffs and Simmons may not play a single game for them this year. 
  • A futures bet can also use up a significant portion of your bankroll and the bet itself may take months before it cashes out, even if it is successful. If you’re looking for a betting option with a quick turn-around when it comes to collecting your winnings, betting on individual games is probably the better option. 


NBA Futures Strategy 

Like all sports wagering, it’s important to do your research before placing an NBA futures bet. For example, if you want to place a bet on who will win the MVP in any given season, it’s important to understand the type of player that typically wins MVP and what the typical MVP season looks like. 

MVP awards are normally given to players on a winning team (usually a top-4 seed in their conference) who miss very few regular season games and have a stand-out statistical season. While it’s impossible to know whether a player will sustain a serious injury during the course of a season, you can look at an MVP candidate’s injury history and make an informed judgment on whether that player is likely to play enough games to be considered for the MVP award that season. 

Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounpo has been incredibly durable throughout his career. He’s never appeared in less than 60 games during a season. Meanwhile, Joel Embiid, another MVP candidate, has played in less than 60 games three times during his six-year career. 

When determining which team to place a futures bet on, it’s important to understand the types of teams that tend to be successful both in the playoffs and the regular season. The NBA’s most successful teams tend to have a mix of youth and experience, with a potent offense and defense. During the modern NBA era, most championship teams have been in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, with many being in the top five in both categories. 

When placing a futures bet in the pre-season, it’s hard to predict exactly how a team will perform during the season, but a team’s success during the previous season, new coaching hires or off-season signings of star players can all be indicators of the success of a team during the upcoming season. 


Basketball Futures Considerations 

The most important thing to consider when placing a futures bet is how players and teams can reasonably be expected to perform over the course of a season. These considerations are normally reflected in the odds for a futures bet. The defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, who had the third-best odds (+800)  in the preseason to repeat as champions were considered by many to be the safest bet to win the title because they brought back basically the same team as last year, they have a very durable superstar and a coach that has been with that group since 2018. 

The Lakers (+350)  and Nets (+225) were given a better chance at winning the title, presumably because of the Nets’ offensive firepower and the Lakers’ addition of former MVP Rusell Westbrook. The difference between those two teams and the Bucks is that neither the Nets nor the Lakers had put together a full, healthy season with their respective squads, so although their potential may have been higher according to the preseason odds makers, there was always a chance that their off-season/mid-season trades and personnel moves wouldn’t work out as expected. 




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NBA Futures Betting FAQs

NBA and NCAA futures bets are settled at the end of a season or post-season. A futures bet on the eventual NBA champion is settled at the conclusion of the NBA finals. A bet on a division champion is settled at the end of the regular season, when a team’s final record is determined. The same goes for NCAA futures bets.
Sportsbooks update futures odds weekly or even daily during the NBA playoffs depending on how certain playoff series are going and which players are available to play. It’s also important to remember that different sportsbooks may offer slightly different odds on any given day.
NBA futures betting is one of the most popular wagering types and you can find them offered at most major sportsbooks including PointsBet, Caesars, Bet365, FanDuel and DraftKings. Visit our sportsbooks page for more information.

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