We were led astray last season. That’s all I’ll say. It’s a new season, which means plenty of emotions are wrapped up into a few dollars that we can’t wait to throw on red, or in this case, preseason lines and totals. Over this piece and next, I’ll take a closer look at a few of the things that standout in gambling world both for the team, and Wolves players specifically; including an interesting development this year with the in-season tournament.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are batting .500 in the last two seasons in hitting their over in season win total. In 2021-22, their 34.5 was met with a lukewarm attitude, and they smashed it by 14 wins. Last season, hot money came in on Minnesota’s 48.5, and an injury-plagued season cost the under to hit by nine wins. It’s not like Vegas knew and baited all of Canis Hoopus into it, but it certainly made a little money via the vast majority of public opinion.
As the page turns, a few preseason totals stick out, and opinions on where oddsmakers see the Wolves are pretty telling that things may be a bit more tempered down in terms of expectations than they were last year.
As usual, all lines are according to the DraftKings Sportsbook.
Let’s Start with Uncharted Waters
The midseason tournament has been one of the biggest talkers of the offseason not only in how it’s going to shake out on the court, but be received by fans as well. It starts with pool play, all the way down to a knockout, bracket style tournament. Both have the ability to be bet.
NBA In-season tournament groups Western Conference groups:— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) July 8, 2023
Group A: Memphis, PHX, Lakers, Utah, Portland
Group B: Denver, LAC, Pelicans, Mavs, Houston
Group C: Kings, Warriors, Thunder, Wolves, Spurs
The Wolves will find themselves in a group that they have the third-best odds to win out of five, an interesting but understandable position if you simply go off of the results of last year. Odds are as follows:
1.) Golden State Warriors: +180
2.) Sacramento Kings: +250
3.) Minnesota Timberwolves: +400
4.) Oklahoma City Thunder: +450
5.) San Antonio Spurs: +1400
Anthony Edwards with Steve Kerr sitting to his right, as it’s revealed the Timberwolves and Warriors are in the same group for the new in-season tournament. “I get to beat up on Steve, y’all.”— Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) July 8, 2023
The x-factor here is how seriously teams are actually going to take this. Will a team like the Warriors, in all actuality, care about the mid-season tournament? They have nothing left to prove. I doubt it. Teams like Golden State, Milwaukee, maybe even Denver may use it as a period to stay in shape while also taking a little bit of time at the tables, too. I mean really, are we expecting accomplished NBA players to not enjoy Las Vegas while in Las Vegas?
Anyway, I think it’d be smarter to look at teams in the group stage that haven’t arrived and are looking for ways to prove themselves on a bigger stage. Naturally, I think the Wolves and Thunder present the best value here with that. The Thunder are still a relative unknown after a few games, but the potential is obvious coming off of last season in which a sudden death game against the Wolves themselves decided who would be the last team from the West in the postseason. I especially like the Thunder here, especially with the return of Chet Holmgren to the lineup.
Next season's ROY race is gonna be a close one— Podcast P with Paul George (@PodcastPShow) August 30, 2023
PG made his pick. Who you got? pic.twitter.com/ABZha6KRTe
Now What About The Actual Season?
The interesting part is how much the in-season tournament will play into some of these win totals, but again, with new territory should come with more of a propensity during the regular season to bet on teams that have more to prove. Hoping that the Wolves end up playing like one of them and cease the tendency to roll the ball out on the floor against bad teams and just expect to win, i’ll go through a couple of superlatives on odds instead of boring you with the details.
Most Intriguing Prop: Timberwolves to win the Northwest Division (+700)
For the amount of variables that can happen over the course of an NBA season in terms of injuries, surprises, and trades, the value here is very good. If the Wolves can find a way to get close to 50 wins and a top five seed, this naturally would put them in play. Not to discredit Denver by any stretch of the imagination, but teams that have typically been there before tend to cut a couple corners during the season to insure players are ready to go for the postseason, especially if Nikola Jokić or Jamal Murray get banged up at any point.
The Nuggets are -475. They likely end up taking the crown. But at +700, it’s not a bad idea to sprinkle this in a preseason card.
finished second in the Northwest Division.— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) April 10, 2023
the team's highest divisional finish since '03-04. pic.twitter.com/TliJkIR94q
Most Likely to Happen: Timberwolves to Make the Playoffs (-150)
This one is pretty cut and dry. Ironically, the Wolves have the second-highest odds in the West to participate in the Play-In Tournament at +125. I don’t particularly love that with where expectations currently sit. I don’t necessarily love -150 either. But the superlative is most likely to happen, isn’t it?
Choose Your Own Adventure: Timberwolves Over 45.5 wins (+115)
DraftKings gives you the pretty easy ability to buy a win or two and shift the odds where you want them. The default for the Wolves is 44.5 wins at -110. I wanted plus odds and figured 45.5 is doable. In terms of a win total, you have to make your wager with the idea that players sitting out or being injured all comes out in the wash, and that hopefully extended periods of time by key players aren’t missed. Ironically, that’s the primary reason the Wolves hit their under last year. But the opposing team on a nightly basis faces the same thing set of problems more likely than not. And on a nightly basis, the Wolves should have most of the advantages.
It all hinges on how hard they actually end up wanting to play. The teams that play the hardest win the most in the regular season are normally the ones that play the hardest and share the ball. It’s why Jarred Vanderbilt’s teams always over perform, and teams like the Kings, who previously hadn’t won much, can find their groove.
It may be my eternal glass that will always be half full talking, but man, after all of the criticism that was shelled out last season, I would sure hope that the above is the case for a team that has a lot to prove.