Warriors rare odds-on favorites to win NBA title

October 18, 2016, 4:50 PM

— -- The Warriors are causing oddsmakers to do things they haven't done since Michael Jordan wore a Bulls uniform.?

Golden State, at around minus-150, is a rare preseason odds-on favorite to win the NBA championship.

Jeff Sherman, head NBA oddsmaker at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, remembers the 1997-98 Bulls team, which was coming off a 72-win season, being around a minus-125 title favorite entering that season. The Miami Heat, during LeBron James' three seasons, also had short preseason odds. Kentucky men's basketball has been a heavy favorite to win a national championship prior to past seasons.

But Sherman and other sports betting industry veterans struggled to recall another team -- in basketball, baseball or football -- that was an odds-on favorite to start the season.

"Odds-on" suggests a team has a better than even chance to win. It also means you win less money than you bet.

For example, at the Warriors' current odds of minus-150 -- or 2-3 -- a $150 bet on them would net $100 if they were to win the title.

The Warriors' pricey odds are not deterring many from betting on them, though. More bets have been placed on Golden State -- and nearly twice as much money -- than any other team at William Hill's Nevada sportsbook. Fourteen of the 20 largest bets on the book's odds to win the NBA title are on the Warriors.

Johnny Avello, executive director at the Wynn sportsbook, said he took a $28,000 bet on the Warriors. The average size of a wager on Golden State at MGM's sportsbook is around $160.

In comparison, the average size of bet on the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers?is around $70. The Cavs are the second favorites at 12-5, followed by the Spurs at 11-2.

No other team has odds in the single digits.

In addition to having unprecedented championship odds, the Warriors are expected to force oddsmakers to create point spreads never seen in the NBA. Only eight NBA games have had point spreads of 20 or greater since the 2004-05 season, according to the sports analytics site BetLabs on SportsInsights.com. The Warriors were involved in two such games last season. They were 22-point home favorites over the 76ers on March 27. It was the largest NBA point spread in the past 12 seasons. The Warriors also were 20-point favorites against the Timberwolves in a game they lost April 11.

Even higher point spreads are expected this season.

"If things click like they look like they could with the talent, then we could see some historic point spreads on some games," MGM vice president of race and sports Jay Rood said.

Sherman, at the Westgate, said his power ratings indicate Golden State could be a 24.5-point favorite when the Nets visit Oracle Arena on Feb. 25. It's a line that Sherman never thought he'd see on an NBA game.

"At the same time, you didn't think you'd see one of the best free agents go to one of the best teams like this," Sherman said of the Warriors' offseason acquisition of Kevin Durant.

If the Warriors are healthy and rested, Sherman said they would be favored in every game this season. Twice, though, Golden State plays at San Antonio on the second half of back-to-back games. The Warriors are at Cleveland on Dec. 25.

"I would say we'll need the other side [of the Warriors] in probably 70 of the 82 games," said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading at William Hill U.S. "There's going to be some matchups, three in four nights, or back-to-back against a quality team, where there might be some split action. But for the most part, yeah, we're going to be against them."

Other notable odds for the Warriors include:?

-- Their season-win total is set at 66.5, the highest ever at the Westgate SuperBook and 10 games more than the Cavaliers.

-- They won a record-73 games during the 2015-16 regular season. William Hill is offering a proposition bet on whether Golden State can win 73.5 games. The under is minus-600 and has attracted 92 percent of the money bet on the prop.

-- William Hill also has a prop bet on which player will finish the regular season with a higher scoring average: Durant or reigning MVP Curry. Durant is a minus-175 favorite, but 72 percent of the bets are on Curry.

Golden State plays the Lakers in a preseason game Wednesday (10 p.m., ESPN) at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego.