The 2021-22 season for the Phoenix Suns will not only be unique as they attempt to defend their Western Conference crown, but the level of engagement locally will be at an all-time high. When you take into account the population increase in Phoenix, coupled with the shiny new toy of sports betting, plenty of eyes will be focused on how the Suns perform.
Success breeds fans. The last time the Phoenix Suns were in the NBA Finals — back in 1993 — the local population of the Phoenix was approximately 2,263,000. That number now sits at roughly 5,584,000. No wonder Just Sports can’t keep up with Valley gear demands! The fanbase is rabid, absorbing all things Phoenix Suns. Following a trip to the NBA Finals, there will be an increased focus on their performance this season.
If that isn’t enough of a reason to get you engaged with the franchise, sports betting became legal statewide on September 9.
I’m not a gambling expert by any stretch of the imagination. Although I’ve placed bets in Las Vegas and Laughlin (and MyBookie) for years now, I don’t consider myself a sports betting savant. While always interested in the process, accessibility has been the primary firewall between myself and continual betting. I don’t have fond memories of betting that Devin Hester would take the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI to the house (odds were +3000).
That firewall is now gone.
I simply login to DraftKings (my preferred app of choice), let my Face ID grant access, and the world of sports betting is at my fingertips. No matter what your platform is, the promos are inviting and the payouts are intoxicating.
The Phoenix Suns have partnered with FanDuel to bring the gaming experience to the Footprint Center. It’s 7,400 square-feet of betting bliss. Have nothing to do at halftime? Go hit the over on the second-half scoring total (life is too short to bet the under).
Today, sports betting is live in Arizona— Front Office Sports (@FOS) September 9, 2021
The Suns have opened a brand new FanDuel Sportsbook lounge in the Footprint Center:
➖ 7400 sq ft, outdoor terrace
➖ 40 TVs, 35 ft video wall
➖ 5 betting windows, 26 kiosks
It's the first sportsbook of its kind inside an NBA arena. pic.twitter.com/VQb93kcwqu
Basketball season is on the horizon, and while it is fun to bet the outcomes of football games, my knowledge of the NBA is much, much deeper. I can give you ten different reasons why the Suns will perform well this season. And now I can bet on it.
Using FanDuel’s Sportsbook app as a baseline, let’s review the different preseason futures. What are the value bets? What doesn’t make sense? And where should you put your money?
NBA Championship: Suns +1500
Let’s start with the big one.
It’s where we all hope to be at the end of this next season: with the Larry O’Brien Trophy calling Phoenix, Arizona home. The Suns, who are coming off of a run in which they were 2 wins away from accomplishing that goal, find themselves tied for the fifth best odds (with the Utah Jazz) in the league per FanDuel.
FanDuel is not taking Phoenix very seriously following last season, and it’s reflected in their odds. Both the Lakers (+440) and the Warriors (+1200) have better odds from the Western Conference, while the Bucks (+850) and the Nets (+210) are higher in the East. Insulted? Yeah, I am a ‘lil bit too.
In my humble opinion, this is a fantastic value bet. Take $100, tuck it away, and win $1,500 when the Suns bring home their first title. Heck, $10 will win you $150, so why not? The Suns are poised for another deep run in the playoffs. Take advantage of it!
Winning the West: Suns +850
What’s interesting is that Phoenix has the fifth best odds to win the West as well, behind the Lakers (+195), Warriors (+550), Clippers (+550), and Jazz (+650). I know what you’re thinking...no Kawhi plus a turned-over roster for the Clips and they still have better odds than the Suns?
Go ahead, doubt us.
This too is a quality value bet. Of the four teams ahead of Phoenix, only the Jazz seem to pose a definite threat. The Lakers are a team without chemistry (and I’m pretty sure the injury bug will be wearing purple and gold this season), the Warriors are unproven post-Durant, and the Clippers are suspect for reasons stated above.
Throw a quick $20 bet on this one with a chance to win $170.
Regular Season MVP: Devin Booker +2800
Plenty has to go right if you want to hit on this one.
Devin Booker enters his seventh NBA season with, for the first time in his career, playoff experience behind him. A gold medal hangs from his neck. The confidence should be there. The question becomes this: do the Suns need Devin Booker to play at an MVP level to be successful? The answer to this question is most likely why Booker’s odds are so long.
It certainly doesn’t hurt anyone on the Suns if he goes into full on Armani Mode (Espo trademark pending). A more efficient version of Booker will only help the Suns in their journey for their first championship. He averaged 25.6 points last season — a full point less than his previous two seasons — while attempting a career high 13.7 shots-per-game.. His 48.4/34/86.7 splits were not the best of his career either. There is room for improvement.
Could improvement equate to an MVP award for Booker? Winning cures all. Steve Nash won two MVP’s without scoring more than 18.8 points. Stephen Curry won the 2015 MVP while averaging just 23.8 points, primarily because he was the best player on the NBA’s best team. It is possible.
It’s worth a flyer, but the chances of return are appropriate. Perhaps you should bet Booker to lead the league in points scored (odds of that occurring are +2900) as well. I’m saving my money in hopes that I look back at this piece and am wrong.
Regular Season Win Total: Suns Over 50.5 -122, Under 50.5 +100
ESPN may not have much respect for the Phoenix Suns, but the sportsbook does. The team that ended with the second best record in the NBA last season, totalling 51 wins in a 72-game season, will have 10 more games this season to achieve the same win total.
A 51-31 record or better almost feels like stealing. Perhaps that is why the odds are -122 for it to occur (bet $122 to win $100). I’ll happily take this bet and enjoy watching every victory along the way.
Value for the Over: A
Value for the Under: C (#dontbetthatguy)
Highest Assist Average: Chris Paul +1500
It’s happened before. It could happen again.
CP3 ended last season with 8.9 assists, good for fourth most in the Association. Surrounded by young talent that is looking to improve year-over-year, the likelihood that Chris Paul repeats as the assist king — a feat he’s accomplished 3 times before — is high.
FanDuel has Paul with the 5th best odds to do so.
You know that Paul will get his. What you are betting on here is that the likes of Trae Young and Russell Westbrook won’t get theirs. Therein lies the challenge. Given the nature of opposing players’ offenses and schemes, the likelihood of them out-assisting Paul is great.
Highest Rebounding Average: Deandre Ayton +3400
I find this league intriguing. And it’s one I will be betting.
If anyone is feeling extremely confident entering this season, it’s DA. His play in the postseason caught many off guard, including the competition. He went from 14.4 points on 62.6% shooting and 10.5 rebounds during the regular season to 15.8 points on 65.8% shooting and 11.8 rebounds in the playoffs. When the games mattered most, Ayton was the most consistent player the Suns had.
Ayton will still be hungry this season. That is the advantage of having Chris Paul on your roster. A true leader, he will not allow the fourth-year center to have an inflated ego. He will keep him grounded, keep him hungry, and keep him grinding. And Ayton has displayed the willingness to listen to his mentors rather than allow ego to rule.
The 14-rebound mark is generally the line of demarcation for the rebounding leader in the league. The last rebounding champion who averaged under 14 per-game? Dwight Howard (12.4) in 2013.
Ayton snagged 10.5 rebounds last season (11th in the league) and his career high was the previous year with 11.5. He’ll have some work to do to get to the magical 14, but given his hunger to please his point guard, his motor will be present. Couple that with a defense that can force the opposition into missed shots, and the boards will be there. Deandre just needs to grab them.
Most Improved Player: Mikal Bridges +4200
Take $10 in hopes that it becomes $420. Why not?
Imagine a world in which this bet pays out. Mikal Bridges, who is the fourth and sometimes fifth option on the starting offense for the Suns, enters his fourth year in the NBA with an opportunity to grow offensively.
We’ve seen flashes of it. The corner three-pointer has improved. The midrange turn around has as well. Remember his career high 34 point performance against the Pacers last season?
If Bridges can take this next step in his career, adding offense to the defense, he’ll do more than earn an extension with the Suns. He’ll earn the max. Could he be the Phoenix version of Scottie Pippen. He wins the Most Improved Player Award and I’ll say, “yes”.
Still, ‘tis a longshot.
These are just some of the bets you can place. The further down the rabbit hole you go, the more you’ll find. Cam Johnson is +4200 for Sixth Man of the Year. Cam Payne is +12000 for Most Improved. The end goal is to make money, not just make a bet because the value is always there. If you did that, the house will win. Screw the house.
The real fun will come once the season begins and you are not betting futures, but games themselves. The over/under’s. The player prop bets. The spreads. Come October 20, it’s going to get real interesting.
Be prepared to see nightly Tweets from your those you follow explaining their gambling exploits or bad beats. I can’t wait for the “the Suns won but didn’t cover” messages of disappointment.
My guess on the over/under number of comments on this article? 13.5.
Best of luck to you!