With the 2022-23 NBA season fast approaching, odds makers are increasing their bets over the course of the season.
Philadelphia 76ers are currently +1700 to win the NBA Championship on FanDuel Sportsbook, trailing only the Boston Celtics (+500), Milwaukee Bucks (+650), Brooklyn Nets (+700), Los Angeles Clippers (+700), Golden State Warriors (+). +700) and the Phoenix Suns (+1000). Other sportsbooks like DraftKings and BetMGM have between +1400 and +1500, so FanDuel offers a slightly better value at the moment.
Most analysts seem to prefer the Celtics and Bucks over the Sixers heading into the season, while the drama-filled Nets are the biggest wild card in the NBA. However, the Sixers’ championship odds are roughly in line with the perception of their place in the Eastern Conference hierarchy.
If you’re looking to dip your toes into the betting waters this season and are hoping to place a bet or two on the Sixers, the following props seem to be the best values right now.
Over 50.5 wins: -110
With last season looming, it wasn’t clear when – or if – Ben Simmons would play for the Sixers after requesting an off-season deal. The odds makers, though, set the Sixers’ total regular season win at 50.5.
Simmons didn’t fit the Sixers before he shipped it to the Nets before the February trade deadline in the package for James Harden. Despite Simmons’ absence and Seth Curry and Andre Drummond losing in the Harden trade, the Sixers finished 51-31 in the regular season to climb above the 50.5 mark.
As the season approaches, the Sixers have no such mystery. Harden re-signed them to a two-year, $68.6 million deal this off-season, signing three former Houston Rockets teammates (PJ Tucker, Danuel House Jr., and Montrezl Harrell) into free agency. They also acquired De’Anthony Melton in the Lily trade to complete their rotation.
Despite all of that, the Sixers’ total regular-season wins were set again at 50.5.
There is no guarantee that the Sixers will strike again. A long-term injury to all-star center Joel Embiid could heart them. If Harden’s injury ignites his hamstring, it could send the Sixers into a meltdown due to their lack of depth of a reliable guard behind.
However, the Sixers are a lot deeper than they headed last season, and third year guard Therese Maxi could be heading for another leap. Another season of 50 wins is within their reach as long as injuries don’t pile up.
Joel Embiid wins Defensive Player of the Year: 2500+
Joel Embiid tied Giannis Antetokounmpo at +700 for the MVP award, behind Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (+450). Both are ahead of two-time MVP Nikola Jokic (+1000) and stars like Kevin Durant (+1000), Ja Morante (+1100), Stephen Curry (+1500) and Jason Tatum (+1600).
But if Embiid did not win the MVP title last season while becoming number one since Shaquille O’Neal to lead the league in scoring (30.6 points per game), it’s hard to see how he will have a better case this year.
With Harden in the fold for the full season, the Sixers shouldn’t need the Embiid to carry such a heavy load. Harden should help create an easy look for Embiid, but the extra firepower that the Sixers have added this off-season will remove more of the big man board. With advanced metrics likely to favor Jokic over Embiid largely due to his passing influence, it’s hard to see how he’ll have a stronger case to win an MVP than he did last year.
However, Defensive Player of the Year is another story.
DPOY usually comes from a team with a top-five defense, which explains why Embiid didn’t get a single vote for that award last year. (The Sixers have been linked with the New York Knicks for the 11th best defense in the league.) However, Embiid has been eyeing the DPOY award over the past few seasons, and has become increasingly vocal about his nomination with each passing year.
“It’s funny, I’ve seen the best defensive player of the year and nowhere to be found, which is surprising,” Embiid told reporters in April. “Defence has been really taken lightly, I don’t know why, maybe because my offensive game has taken another step but that’s really what interests me the most.”
The additions of Tucker, House and Melton should help The Sixers toughen their defense this season. Milton was among the league leaders in deflections and thefts in every game last season – which would have him intimidating alongside Sixers’ second unit Mathis Thiebol – while Tucker is one of the league’s strongest and most versatile defenders.
If Harden helps lighten Embiid’s workload on attack, he might be able to devote more energy to defence. And if the Sixers end up with one of the top defensive rankings in the league, the big star should be in the throes of the DPOY race.
DeAnthony Melton wins 6th Man of the Year Award: +4000
While the five Novice Sixers are loaded with offensive firepower, their seats are more than a question mark in that regard.
House averaged 5.9 points per game last season across his tenures with the Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and Utah Jazz. Thybulle is almost an imperfect crime factor. Harrell is a high-performance pick-and-roll end player, but he’s not much of a threat to create shots on his own. Same goes for Georges Niang, which is mostly an option for long-range capture and shooting.
Milton is the only assistant who can create snapshots of himself and others, although he may not always be assigned to do so. Head coach Doc Rivers rotates Harden and Maxi to ensure one of them stays on the ground at all times. That would put Milton in a minor ball-handling role, much better for his skill set.
Milton struggled as a long-range thrower during his first two seasons, but he’s beaten 38.8 percent of his 4.7 attempt three points per game over the past two seasons. He also averaged 10.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists in just 21.6 minutes off the bench for the Memphis Grizzlies during that period.
With Melton the Sixers’ best two-way choice off the bench, he should see the most minutes of any non-rookie player. It’s unlikely to outpace high-volume artillerymen like the Golden State Warriors guards Jordan Bull or Miami Heat guard Tyler Hero, but could have a similar positive impact on the Sixers this year.
The sixth player of the year often goes to one of the league’s highest-scoring bench players, so Milton faces an uphill battle for that award. If voters take his defensive effect into account, he might be a legitimate black horse to win.
James Harden to win MVP: +10000
Embiid (+700) is a much better bet than Harden (+10000) to win the singles MVP award as the season approaches, but there is a world where Harden can be the combo in his favour.
While Embiid is likely to fall back a bit statistically this season, Harden could be in line for a year of recovery if he fully recovers from the hamstring injury that has plagued him since the 2020-21 campaign. He’s unlikely to average total goals in his mid-30s like his days at the Houston Rockets, but the 24.6 points per game he scored during his first season in Brooklyn should come in handy.
Harden is also among the league leaders in assists after delivering 10.5 per game in 21 regular season games with the Sixers last season. Maxey and Melton are far better off as secondary ball coaches, leaving Harden the only primary playmaker on the current roster.
If Harden regains the rush that allowed him to blast defenders away from dribbling, he’ll be a much more dangerous tier three scorer than he was last year. His efficiency waned last year – likely as a result of a hamstring injury – but he was in his mid-40s overall and mid-30s from a three-point range before that. Positive regression to those ratios would help with the MVP case, too.
The narrative factor can also help him build a case. His decision to turn down the $47.4 million player option and re-sign for $14 million less this season is what has enabled the Sixers to have enough space under the apron to sign both Tucker and House. He also left enough space under the apron to bring in Harrell as well. If these three end up playing influential roles for the Sixers this year, it would be easy to trace them back to Harden.
Members of the media may not want to reward Harden for forcing him out of two teams in two consecutive years. But if he looks closely at his ex this year, he might make his way into the MVP conversation.
Unless otherwise noted, all stats via NBA.comAnd the PBPStatsAnd the cleaning the glasses or basketball reference. All salary information via Spotrac or RealGM. All possibilities via FanDuel Sportsbook.