The 2023-2024 NBA season is upon us. The start of professional basketball is the reason October is the busiest month on the sports calendar. Fans have all four major pro sports leagues to watch and wager on.
For sports bettors, this is the start of their first full NBA season with legal Ohio sports betting. Earlier this year, bettors enjoyed the exciting end to the regular season and the playoffs.
Unfortunately for Ohioans, the Cleveland Cavaliers had a disappointing end to their season after being bounced out of the playoffs by the New York Knicks in their First Round series, losing 4-1.
But this is a new season, and NBA betting in Ohio is full of futures opportunities right now. And it looks like Ohio natives know that. For at least one sportsbook, the Cavs are a pretty popular pick to make a run for a championship this year.
BetMGM: Cavs big betting liability to win the East
The Ohio sports betting market is in a state of growth right now. As the NBA season gets ready to tip off, now is the perfect time for basketball fans to put their money where their mouths are when it comes to their favorite teams.
BetMGM Ohio is taking loads of bets ahead of this season, and folks are not shying away from betting on the Cleveland Cavaliers to do well in the Eastern Conference. According to BetMGM, 6.2% of the betting handle is on the Cavs to win the East. That goes along with the 6.1% of the tickets that have Cleveland winning the conference.
With +900 odds to win the East, the Cavs are a top 5 liability for BetMGM to make it to the NBA Finals this season. Now, when it comes to actually winning the championship, that’s a different story. Only 1.6% of tickets have the Cavs winning it all, with a mere 0.6% of the money of Cleveland taking home the title.
Other Cavs futures to watch out for
In Ohio, all the attention is on the Cleveland Cavaliers. After a solid regular season in 2022-2023, the team qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2018.
It was also the first time the Cavs made the playoffs without LeBron James since drafting him. However, the team had an underwhelming performance in the postseason, including one game where they only scored 79 points.
This season’s team is mostly intact with stars Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley, Darius Garland, and others, while also adding additional depth pieces like Max Strus. However, there are some doubters. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ odds of making the playoffs are roughly even.
Bettors are split down the middle, with 50% of tickets picking the Cavs to miss the postseason. In fact, 45% of the handle is on the Cavs missing out on the playoffs.
NBA MVP candidate: Donovan Mitchell
When it comes to NBA awards betting, there are three Cavs players bettors should have their eyes on. Donovan Mitchell could be a dark horse MVP candidate. He has very long odds to win the award, but that could change in a heartbeat if he leads Cleveland to a strong start to the regular season.
Defensive Player of the Year candidate: Evan Mobley
Meanwhile, Evan Mobley has an excellent chance to win Defensive Player of the Year. According to BetMGM, he has the second-best odds to win the award and he’s appeared on the second most tickets. The handle is spread out quite a bit on some other players like Jaren Jackson Jr., Bam Adebayo and rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama. However, Mobley is right there with the rest of them and should garner more attention as the season progresses.
Rookie of the Year candidate: Emoni Bates
Finally, bettors are keeping a close eye on Cavs rookie Emoni Bates. As a highly touted high school recruit, Bates has a ton of raw talent. However, some off-the-court legal trouble impacted his college career and he fell to 2nd round in the 2023 NBA Draft, where Cleveland scooped him up.
His odds aren’t great to win the award. However, it is interesting that he appears on the seventh-most tickets and he has the sixth-most amount of handle bet on him to win the award. With such a long rookie class, it would be a true shocker for Bates to be the one who wins the award. However, stranger things have happened.