NBA Predictions 2021-22: Your Daily Model

Your daily resource for NBA predictions.

Betfair’s very own Data Scientists have built a model which will produce outputs for every game of the NBA season. You’ll see the outputs below.

The model uses a purely statistical approach to determine the probability of each team winning, and the predictions get stronger as the season evolves. You can compare the daily NBA predictions to the betting markets on the world’s largest peer to peer punting platform, Betfair.

To complement the Model’s NBA predictions, this page will be populated with written previews on Wednesday and Friday with analysis on who the model is picking in the day’s NBA action, giving you a quantitative view on the world’s premier basketball league.


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2021-22 Season Preview

The 2021-22 NBA season is just around the corner and to help you get prepared, Betfair’s basketball analyst has dissected all 30 teams to pick out his best futures bets.

Pacific Division

It was a case of so close, yet so far away for the Phoenix Suns last season. After reaching the NBA Finals and going up 2-0, the Suns fell short of their first-ever NBA title but have brought back last year’s core to ‘run it back’. Chris Paul will be turning 36 later this season and so much rests on his shoulders. If he is again able to perform at an elite level, the Suns will be just as good as they were last year, but even that might not be enough to see them replicate their 2021 success, given the West’s injuries last year.

The Lakers were one of those injury-hit teams in the 2020-21 season, with a hurt Anthony Davis a shell of himself in the playoffs, while the Clippers also suffered bad injury luck as Kawhi Leonard tore his ACL in the second round. Leonard likely won’t hit the court this season, but the Lakers are in line to have most of their roster — a very new-look roster, at that — fit and firing for opening day. That puts LeBron James and co. in good stead to improve on their seventh-place finish from last year, while Paul George will have to do a lot of heavy lifting if the Clippers are to finish top four in the West again.

The fact that the Golden State Warriors are the fourth team to be mentioned emphasises just how strong the Pacific Division is this year. The return of Klay Thompson, likely early in the season, will give the Warriors a massive boost this year, and the Dubs have been bolstered by pick-ups such as Otto Porter Jr, Nemanja Bjelica and Andre Igoudala. Add them to the evergreen Steph Curry and Draymond Green, and you have another potential contender.

The same can’t be said about the Sacramento Kings, who again missed out on the playoffs last year and will require a minor miracle to secure a spot in 2022. De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton will provide an exciting backcourt to watch but minimal player movement in the offseason means that Luke Walton and his troops will be stuck in mediocrity once again.


Northwest

The Utah Jazz finished with an NBA-best 52-20 record last season, which translates to a 59-win season in a standard year. That’s an elite record and the Jazz are capable of improving that in 2022. New to the team this season, Rudy Gay, Eric Paschall and Hassan Whiteside will all be useful bench players which gives the Jazz a heap of depth on top of what was already a very well-rounded roster. If they can stay healthy, Utah are one of the teams to beat in 2022 and present great value.

The Denver Nuggets were just five wins behind Utah in 2021 but will be without Jamal Murray for much of the season after the star guard tore his ACL in April. Luckily for Denver, they have the reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and up-and-coming star Michael Porter Jr. — two elite offensive players that will prevent the Nuggets from slipping too far down the standings in Murray’s absence. However, even if Murray returns before the playoffs, it’s hard to see him being healthy enough to help Denver go deep into the playoffs.

The Portland Trail Blazers are another elite offensive team who will have defensive concerns, although new head coach Chauncey Billups may be able to shore some things up on that end of the floor. After a first-round exit and a rumour-filled summer, Damian Lillard has stayed in Portland for another season and Larry Nance Jr was the big-name recruit for the Blazers, but have they added enough pieces to be title hopes in 2022? Probably not.

Not much more could have gone wrong for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2021 as they slumped to a 23-49 record. Rookie Anthony Edwards had some encouraging play late in the season and with Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell missing 52 games between themselves last year, there is reason to be a bit more optimistic about the T’wolves’ play-in chances in 2022.

The less said about the Oklahoma City Thunder, the better. Australian rookie Josh Giddey will attract plenty of attention in this part of the world and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looks set for stardom, but there’s every chance that OKC finish with the NBA’s worst record.


Southwest

Luka Doncic is the MVP favourite again as we head into the new season and he will be expected to lead his Dallas Mavericks to a winning record. After Rick Carlisle’s departure, the Mavs hired franchise legend Jason Kidd to be their new head coach as one of few meaningful changes for Dallas.

The Memphis Grizzlies also remained relatively stable in the offseason, with their biggest move being a bit of a head-scratcher, trading Jonas Valanciunas for Steven Adams. That said, given the ripeness of this Memphis roster, improvement is expected in 2022, and all eyes will be on big-name youngsters Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. After going out in the first round of the playoffs last year, winning a playoff series will be the big focus for the Grizz.

Zion Williamson’s health is the big talking point going into the New Orleans Pelicans’ season, with the star forward’s foot still causing him issues and keeping him out of the start of the season. Brandon Ingram, the Pels’ other big-name player, is good to go, but will that matter? It feels like the play-in could be the best New Orleans can muster this year.

The San Antonio Spurs made it that far last year, but with DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Patty Mills, among others, out the door, they’ll be doing well to replicate that success this time around. As the Spurs enter a rebuild, it could be a quiet few years for the usually-rock-solid franchise.

The Houston Rockets are also in the early stages of their rebuild. Number 2 pick Jalen Green was their most significant offseason acquisition but from a futures betting perspective, Houston offer nothing interesting whatsoever.


Betting Strategy

BACK — Western Conference Winner – Utah Jazz for 1 unit

BACK — NBA Championship Winner – Utah Jazz for 0.5 units

Atlantic Division

The Eastern Conference promises to be very competitive once again in 2022 and the Brooklyn Nets are expected to be right up there in the standings come the end of the regular season. The title favourites going into the season, Brooklyn own a star-studded roster but the uncertainty around when, or if, Kyrie Irving will be taking the court this year leaves some unknowns around how the Nets’ roster will look come playoffs. Kevin Durant and James Harden, if they remain healthy, will ensure another good season for the Nets, but they look unders.

The Philadelphia 76ers finished a win above Brooklyn last season and also suffered a second-round playoff exit, but they were heavily favoured to win that series against Atlanta. The repercussions have been ugly, with Ben Simmons requesting a trade and reporting to Philly just a week before the season starts. Joel Embiid will be the star of the show for the Sixers again, but just who Daryl Morey can land in a potential Simmons trade is likely the biggest factor going into this season. If it’s a legitimate star, such as Damian Lillard, Philly will be right in the mix. Anything else, and the Sixers’ chances will be significantly hampered.

The New York Knicks were arguably the biggest surprise package of 2021, finishing 41-31, before falling to Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs. Acquiring Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier from Boston were big pick-ups but we will be wanting to see more than one season of above-.500 play from New York before getting too excited.

Boston were a flat 36-36 last year and it will be a big surprise if they are to dramatically improve on a .500 record this year. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown continue to improve and will only get better this season, but the Celts still have some very raw players throughout their squad and new coach Ime Udoka might take a while to implement his gameplan.

The Toronto Raptors’ 2021 couldn’t have been much worse, playing home games in Tampa Bay and finishing a dismal 27-45. The silver lining is that they got the #4 pick in the draft and selected Scottie Barnes, who has shown plenty of promise early on. Franchise legend Kyle Lowry moved on to Miami but with the Raps returning to Toronto for the upcoming season, we can expect them to be back in the playoff hunt.


Central Division

The Milwaukee Bucks won their second-ever NBA championship in 2021 and enter this season as third-favourite, behind the Nets and the Lakers. Much of the Bucks’ core returns this season, with PJ Tucker their biggest offseason loss, but on the back of Giannis Antetokounmpo giving one of the most dominant Finals performances in recent memory, it’s hard to write off the Greek Freak’s chances of bringing back-to-back titles to Milwaukee.

Likely the next best team in the Central Division in 2022 will be the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls’ front office made some great free agency signings, including Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso to complement current stars Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic. The latter two didn’t perform as well as hoped after Chicago traded for Vucevic midway through the 2021 season, but with the team now properly built out, big improvements are expected from the Bulls.

The Indiana Pacers’ big offseason news was the signing of head coach Rick Carlisle after the embarrassing one-season tenure of Nate Bjorkgren. Carlisle is a well-respected coach but even with that, can he lift the Pacers to at least a series win in the playoffs? With their current roster and the depth of the East this year, it’s hard to see that happening.

That leaves us with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Detroit Pistons. It’s fair to say that we will be expecting to see these teams high in the lottery again come season’s end, with draft picks and rebuilding very much on both front offices’ minds. They will be fun teams to watch, including this year’s #1 pick Cade Cunningham suiting up for Detroit, but they offer little betting appeal.


Southeast Division

The Atlanta Hawks had a breakthrough season in 2021, making it all the way to the Conference Finals as Trae Young’s star continued to rise. The young Hawks were already a reasonably deep team but Travis Schlenk has done well to add Delon Wright and Gorgui Dieng — perhaps underrated pick-ups — to this already good roster. After a 41-win season last year, there’s a chance the Hawks break into the 50s in 2022.

The Miami Heat are another team that have recruited well over summer, with the big-name addition being Kyle Lowry. PJ Tucker is also now in Miami, joining Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and co. to form what will be a very good team come playoff time.

After a rumour-filled six months or so, Bradley Beal has stayed put at the Washington Wizards, for the time being, as the franchise moved on from Russell Westbrook after their first-round defeat to Philadelphia last season. That Westbrook trade brought Spencer Dinwiddie, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell to DC, but with question marks around all of those players, including Dinwiddie’s health, we might not even see the Wizards make the playoffs this season.

There is plenty of buzz in Charlotte around LaMelo Ball after he won Rookie of the Year last season, as the Hornets finished 33-39, but unless several Charlotte players make a bit just this year, you would have to write off the Hornets’ playoff chances. Rookie James Bouknight has a little bit of hype surrounding him and Gordon Hayward had a strong 2020-21 season, but it feels like Charlotte are still a couple of years away from any meaningful runs.

The Orlando Magic have done a good job of compiling young talent over the past couple of years, but that will see them again finish in the bottom few spots in the East. Jalen Suggs, Orlando’s #5 pick from this year’s draft, will see plenty of minutes and they may be a fun team to watch, but the Magic will be far from causing a stir in the East.


Betting Strategy

BACK — Eastern Conference Winner – Milwaukee Bucks for 1 unit


Back-To-Lay Selections: These teams are expected to trade lower in-play. Betfair punters can potentially lock in a profit regardless of the result with Betfair trading.

Back & Lay Selections:
 These team bets have been identified as having an increased likelihood of occurring compared to the market expectation.


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