NBA Basketball Awards: Expert Techniques for Sports Bettors
There are as many ways to bet on the NBA as there are ways to defend the pick-and-roll. Like instant gratification? You can place wagers on moneylines, point spreads, or totals. Win or lose, you’ll typically find out the result within hours of placing your bet.
Have a little more patience? Most U.S. sportsbooks allow you to bet on the NBA’s Rookie of the Year and its Most Valuable Player. Some sportsbooks also allow you to bet on the Coach of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year.
How NBA Awards Betting Works
Sportsbooks rank the players and coaches in each category according to their chances and assign odds that reflect their likelihood to win each respective award. Betting is opened prior to the beginning of each season and generally closes once the season begins.
Now comes the hard part: waiting. The results aren’t revealed until the end of June when the NBA hosts its annual awards show. The star-studded event is televised on TNT and features a whos-who of NBA players, executives, and celebrities.
Betting on NBA award winners can be a fun way to follow the season. It can also be immensely profitable if you know what you’re doing. We have the lowdown on how to get in on the action and have some tips, trends, and considerations to keep in mind before laying down your hard-earned cash.
Rookie of the Year
How it Works: The NBA honors the league’s best first-year player every season with the Kia Rookie of the Year Award.
Since 1990, the NBA Rookie of the Year award has gone to the first pick in the draft 12 times and has only been given to a second-round selection just once.
Unique Considerations: Since 1990, the NBA Rookie of the Year award has gone to the first pick in the draft 12 times and has only been given to a second-round selection just once. That rarity occurred in 2017 when Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon won top honors by being a little less mediocre than his fellow freshman.
Although his stats weren’t exactly eye-popping, Brogdon’s selection reflected voters’ bias for picking point guards. Over the past thirteen years, the NBA Rookie of the Year award has gone to a point guard eight times, a shooting guard once, a small forward once, a power forward once, and a center twice.
How it Works: The Kia Most Valuable Player Award is something of a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. That’s because nobody really knows the criteria for handing out the league’s signature trophy. Should it go to the best player or the most indispensable player? Is it the player who is most valuable to his team, or the one who is most valuable to the league?
The NBA provides voters with only the flimsiest of instructions, which invariably leads to massive debates and mystifying results.
Unique Considerations: Although the criteria for selecting an MVP is murky, there are a number of historical trends that are crystal clear. For starters, the award is usually given to a player who is in the prime of his career. The MVP has only been won by players who were 23 or younger four times, and seven times by players who were 31 or older.
Voters also like players on title contenders. Since 1985, only two MVPs have come from a team that finished worse than second in its conference during the regular season. The exceptions were Michael Jordan in 1987-88, and Russell Westbrook in 2016-17.
Voters also like guys who can fill up the stat sheet, as the award has been won by the NBA’s leading scorer three times in the past five years. In fact, there have only been three MVPs have ever averaged fewer than 17 points per game. They were Bill Russell (1961, 1963, and 1965), Wes Unseld (1969), and Steve Nash (2005).
Since 1955-56, the NBA MVP has gone to a point guard 11 times.