In 2018, $1.5 billion was bet on basketball (college and professional) at Nevada sportsbooks, an all-time high and more than double the amount bet on hoops in 2008.
Bookmakers say the NBA accounts for anywhere from 30% to 40% of their basketball handle, despite having far fewer games than college basketball. Last season, there were more than 6,000 college basketball games compared to just more than 1,300 NBA games.
The betting interest on the NBA remains strong entering the 2019-20 season that has a much more wide-open feel for bettors to navigate.
With the season tipping off Tuesday, here is a look at how the betting market has taken shape over the summer.
Odds to win the title
• The LA Clippers, with the additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, are the consensus favorites at U.S. sportsbooks, with odds around +350 (7-2). The Lakers are next at 4-1, followed by the Milwaukee Bucks at 6-1 and the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets at 8-1.
• Entering last season, with Golden State an odds-on favorite, only three teams had single-digit odds to win the title at some sportsbooks: the Warriors, Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets. This season, five teams tip off with single-digit odds: Clippers, Lakers, Bucks, 76ers and Rockets.
• Top five teams by number of bets to win NBA title (via Caesars Sportsbook):
• Teams that attracted the most money wagered to win NBA title (via Caesars Sportsbook):
• The Lakers have attracted about 2.5 times as much money to win the title as has been bet on any other team at Caesars Sportsbook.
• The second-largest liability for Caesars Sportsbook is the Toronto Raptors. "We took a couple of big bets [on the Raptors] during that July time frame," Caesars senior oddsmaker Alan Berg said.
• The Raptors have seen their titles odds lengthen from 14-1 to 100-1 at the SuperBook.
• Of the teams considered title contenders, the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas has a liability on the Lakers and Warriors. "We're still into the low six figures in liability on the Lakers," SuperBook vice president of risk and head NBA oddsmaker Jeff Sherman said. "We've taken a lot of large wagers on the Lakers, just continuous support on them."
• Twice as much money has been bet on the Lakers to win the NBA title at the SuperBook as has been bet on any other team. Golden State has attracted the second-most money, including a $10,000 bet at 14-1 odds.
• The largest bet the SuperBook has taken on its odds to win the NBA title is $12,500 on the Clippers at 4-1.
• "The Clippers are best result in the West," Dave Sharapan, oddsmaker for Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology, said. "No one is buying anything they're selling. So if the Clippers can get out of the West, we'll be in a really, really good spot. Except for the Lakers, we're in a pretty good spot on every other team in the West."
• The SuperBook took a $10,000 bet on the Lakers to win the title at 5-1 just hours before the news of the acquisition of Anthony Davis was announced.
"With the anticipation of Kawhi Leonard, we even have $10,000 on [the Lakers] at 7-4," Sherman said. "People thought that Leonard was going to be going there and that the Lakers would end up as [odds-on favorites], which they would have if they signed Leonard."
• At MGM sportsbooks in Nevada, nearly one of every five bets on the NBA title odds is on the Lakers.
• There are more bets on the 76ers to win the NBA title at DraftKings sportsbook than on any other team.
• In late July, a bettor at the SuperBook placed a $100,500 bet on the 76ers to make the playoffs at -5,000 odds. If the Sixers reach the postseason in April, the bettor will win a net $2,010.
• The Milwaukee Bucks have attracted 11% of title bets placed with DraftKings -- third behind only the Lakers and Sixers -- but account for only 3% of the money that has been wagered on the odds to win the NBA championship.
• The Utah Jazz have seen their title odds improve from 40-1 to 16-1 at the SuperBook. "We thought they were one of the teams that had the nicest summers in terms of making moves," Sherman said of the Jazz.
• The 76ers (30%) and Lakers (20%) account for half of the bets on the odds to win the NBA title at bookmaker SugarHouse's sportsbooks in Pennsylvania.
• It's a different story in New Jersey, where sportsbook PointsBet has taken more money on the Brooklyn Nets to win the NBA title than on any other team. The Nets, who have gone from 25-1 to 20-1 this offseason, account for just under 20% of PointsBet's handle on its NBA title odds.
• More money has been bet on the Nets to win the NBA title than the Clippers at DraftKings.
• The Knicks have not been as popular at PointsBet, accounting for nearly 1% of the NBA title odds handle. The Knicks are 500-1.
• As of last week, one bet for $5 had been placed on the Atlanta Hawks to win the NBA title at the SuperBook, the fewest number of bets on any team.
• PointsBet's largest bet on a team with 100-1 or longer odds: $300 on the Atlanta Hawks at 200-1.
• At FanDuel's sportsbook in Pennsylvania, 81% of the NBA title bets have been on the 76ers.
• On June 18, bookmaker William Hill took a $10,000 bet and a $5,000 bet on the Denver Nuggets to win the NBA title at 18-1. The bets would pay a net $180,000 and $90,000.
• William Hill took $100 bets each the Knicks and Cavaliers to win the NBA title at 1,000-1.
• The Charlotte Hornets have attracted the fewest bets to win the NBA title at FanDuel's sportsbook.
• At FanDuel, the Knicks have attracted more bets to win the title than 16 teams, including the Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat.
Season win totals
• Highest season win totals at the SuperBook:
• Lowest season win totals at SuperBook:
• The biggest decision on a season win total at Caesars Sportsbook is on the Chicago Bulls. "We need the under," Berg said. "We are currently at 34 after opening at 30.5."
• The Dallas Mavericks opened with a win total of 39.5 at the SuperBook. The number has been bet up to 42.5, with 80% of the money on the over. "We've been taking a lot on them," Sherman said. "That's our largest decision at this point."
• The Brooklyn Nets' win total at the SuperBook has been bet down from 44.5 to 42.5. "The sharps bet the Nets under to get to where we're at," Sherman said. "I can see why the sharps would play this under because there might be some nights that [Kyrie] Irving misses out."
• Top "over" teams the past three seasons:
1. Pelicans 96-76-1
2. Clippers 92-76-1
3. Bucks 101-84-1
• Top "under" teams the past three seasons (unders listed first):
• "One of the big adjustments I've made is on opening night, the Pelicans and the Raptors," Sherman said. "The Pelicans have been scoring and not playing much defense. They have a bunch of young players out there who are pushing the pace. Just a week ago, I was sitting a 227 on the [Pelicans-Raptors] total. Now, I've adjusted it up to 232.5."
The total has dipped back to 231.5 with Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson out six to eight weeks at the start of the season to recover from knee surgery.
• NBA games during the regular season last year averaged nearly 10 points more than in any other season in at least 28 years. Games averaged 222.4 points last season, a nearly 5% year-over-year increase.
• Possessions per game also hit a three-year high last season, at 100.7.
• Scoring tends to increase throughout the season. The past three seasons, games in the first three months of the season (October/November/December) have averaged 213.8 points. Games in the last four months of the season (January/February/March/April) have averaged 217.1 points.
Odds & ends
• The spread margin -- the difference between the final margin of victory and the closing point spread -- decreases throughout the season, as one would expect. The past three years, the spread margin in October and November games is 10.1 and 10.2, respectively. The spread margin in March is 9.4, the lowest of any month of the season.
• The SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas' NBA handle during the 2018-19 was up 18% year over year. The book's hold percentage (net win) on NBA, however, was down sharply, from 6% in 2017-18 to 2.5% last season. "I remember last year that we had some house players continuously bet against the bad teams with the better teams," Sherman said. "They just seemed to cover more a lot more last season than they did the previous one."
• NBA accounted for 35% of the amount bet on basketball at the SuperBook.
• For the first time, the SuperBook posted early point spreads on select "NBA Games of the Year." The game that attracted the most early action is the Warriors at the Lakers (-3.5) on Nov. 13. "The Lakers are at Phoenix the night before," Sherman said. "So on the surface it may look low, and we've had the public laying the 3.5."
Top four teams in Westgate Superbook oddsmaker Jeff Sherman's power ratings (considering teams at full strength):
• Best covering teams the past three seasons:
1. Celtics 105-83-4 (55.9%)
2. Trail Blazers 97-80-7 (54.8%)
3. Nets 92-76-1 (54.8%)
• Worst covering teams the past three seasons:
1. Cavs 79-105-2 (42.9%)
2. Knicks 70-91-3 (43.5%)
3. Warriors 90-114-3 (44.1%)