The NBA is celebrating its 75th anniversary this season. So what’s the best way for fans to commemorate this milestone?
By betting on it!
Late Thursday, the good folks at WynnBET unveiled a series of prop bets pitting the exploits of NBA legends versus the potential accomplishments of current NBA stars this season. While WynnBET Senior Trader Motoi Pearson says some of these props may have a longer shelf life, the current deadline for sports bettors to get action down is right up until tipoff of the involved player’s first game of the regular season, which commences with a doubleheader Tuesday night before expanding to a full slate of openers Wednesday.
The props, the full complement of which are viewable along with other NBA futures on the WynnBET app, are available to players in Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, and New Jersey. Pearson discussed the following wagers with US Bets:
Uh-oh, it’s Magic … and Michael … and more
Magic Johnson’s PPG + APG in 1986-87 (36.1) vs. James Harden’s PPG + APG in 2021-22 — Johnson: +195, Harden: -230
Michael Jordan’s career PPG (30.1) vs. Kevin Durant’s PPG in 2021-22 — Jordan: -300, Durant: +250
Harden almost reached this prescribed threshold last season, averaging 24.6 points and 10.9 assists during his 36 games with the Nets after his trade from Houston, while Durant has only averaged more than 30 points per game twice in his career. But if Kyrie Irving sticks with his decision not to get vaccinated and continues to sit out games, those backing Durant and (especially) Harden in these props should feel pretty good about their prospects.
“If Harden can stay healthy, this is definitely one of the more interesting and fun ones we came up with,” said Pearson. “Injuries have played a part in the Big Three for the Nets. When Durant gets going, I think he’s had some flashes of being the top guy.”
Will Russell Westbrook + LeBron James + Anthony Davis score 100 combined points on Oct. 19 to equal Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962? No: -1500, Yes: +600
Pearson agreed with our assessment that these odds might be a little too short on the Lakers trio, which is still a long way from jelling ahead of an opening-night tilt against the Warriors. But considering Golden State’s penchant for playing up-tempo basketball, LeBron and his wingmen have a puncher’s chance.
“We’ve seen flashes of them being healthy enough to score a bunch in a game like that against the Warriors on opening day,” said Pearson. “The true odds on this were 10/1, so we dropped it a bit. We knew people were going to end up taking some stabs on the Big Three.”
Kobe Bryant’s career PPG (25) vs. LeBron James’ PPG in 2021-22 — Bryant: -115, James: -105
LeBron averaged exactly 25 ppg in last year’s injury-shortened campaign and 25.3 the previous season, when the Lakers won the NBA title in the Orlando bubble. And common logic would dictate that the additions of Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony might find him comfortably slipping into the role of distributor a bit more often, thus eating into his scoring output.
“Obviously, there are a few more guys who can bear the load, but LeBron is LeBron,” said Pearson. “If he’s not injured, he’ll still be scoring at a legitimate pace. We didn’t want to let people just unload on LeBron’s side, but we figured he’d be a ‘dog in this.”
Threes, boards, and blocks
Larry Bird’s three-point field goals in one game (seven) vs. Stephen Curry to record more in one game in 2021-22 — Bird +4.5: +175, Curry -4.5: -200
Be mindful of the addition of a spread here, because to cash on the Steph side of this bet, he’ll need to notch 12 threes in a single game at some point this season. His career single-game high is 13, one off the NBA record set by his Golden State backcourt mate, Klay Thompson.
This all begs the question: How prolific a three-baller would Larry Legend be if he were playing in today’s trey-happy game?
“He’s just as competitive as anyone, so if anyone’s gonna be shooting threes, he’d be one of the guys at least attempting way more threes than he was with Boston in the ’80s,” said Pearson.
Shaquille O’Neal’s PPG + RPG in 1999-2000 (43.3) vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s PPG + RPG in 2021-22 — O’Neal: -165, Antetokounmpo: +145
Setting aside the actual prop, which is a fun one, if Giannis and Shaq were matched up for an entire game, who does Pearson think would get the better of the matchup?
“Giannis, it doesn’t seem like he’s trying to back down from anyone,” Pearson said. “If it was Shaq in his prime, though, I just don’t think there are too many big men who can hang with that. We’ll never see anyone like that again. Giannis is bringing the big man mentality back, but I don’t think anyone can hang with Shaq.”
Bill Russell’s career BPG (8.6) vs. Rudy Gobert’s most blocks in a game in 2021-22 — Russell: -175, Gobert: +155
Wait a second: Bill Russell averaged 8.6 blocks per game?!?! Well, not exactly. The NBA didn’t officially track blocked shots during the course of Russell’s career. But Pearson and his cohorts found a man on Reddit who had painstakingly collected all of the box scores where blocks were tabulated — some 135 in all — and averaged them out to 8.6 for Russell. (By way of comparison, Pearson says Chamberlain averaged around the same figure over the course of a slightly smaller sample size.)
“Eight blocks is absurd,” Pearson correctly observed.
For what it’s worth, Gobert’s career high for blocks in a game is nine, which he tallied last season against the Chicago Bulls.
Of power forwards and point guards
Charles Barkley’s third-year PPG + RPG (37.6) vs. Zion Williamson’s third-year PPG + RPG (2021-22) — Barkley: -145, Williamson: +125
Williamson will start the season in street clothes with an injured foot, which makes one wonder: Is there any sort of minimum amount of games played attached to these props? Yes, and that minimum is one. To set it higher, said Pearson, would be “hard to stipulate” on WynnBET’s app.
Oscar Robertson’s triple-doubles in 1961-62 (41) vs. Russell Westbrook’s triple-doubles in 2021-22 — Robertson: -400, Westbrook: +320
During the 2019-2020 season, when Westbrook had to share the ball with Harden in Houston, he only had eight triple-doubles. Last year, however, he had 38 with the Wizards in a more ball-dominant role.
“We tried to shade as much as we could, because Davis, Westbrook, and LeBron — all three of these guys are in props,” explained Pearson. “We know Westbrook will have to share it a bit more.”
Isiah Thomas’ 25 points in a quarter in 1988 vs. Damian Lillard to score more than 25 in any quarter in 2021-22 — Thomas: -1800, Lillard: +650
Cool, but what about Klay? The Warriors’ Thompson once scored 37 points in a single quarter against the Kings. Granted, Thompson has sat out the past two seasons with serious injuries, but assuming a healthy Klay, it seems like Zeke is lucky to have drawn Lillard in this matchup.
“Lillard’s gonna be the guy in Portland, and those odds are still pretty insurmountable,” said Pearson. “Klay would be right near where we had Lillard, if not better.”
Photo: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY