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NBA Expert Keith Smith takes a look at the top bets and the best longshot picks for MVP, Rookie of the Year, Leading Scorer, and NBA Champion for the 2021-22 season.

2021-22 NBA Futures Picks and Predictions: Best Bets and Longshots for MVP, Rookie of the Year, Scoring Champ, and NBA Title

The NBA season is upon us and that means it’s time to look at some Futures. The key to finding a good future bet is to pick something at least somewhat under the radar, but something that might also be possible. You may love a player or team, but picking with your heart isn’t always the smart play. Look for value vs sentiment.

We’re going to give you a best bet and a longshot for NBA Regular Season MVP, Rookie of the Year, Regular Season Leading Scorer, and NBA Champions.

Regular Season NBA MVP Picks

The favorite here is Luka Doncic (+500), with Giannis Antetokounmpo (+800) right behind him. Both are fine choices. But we’re going in a different direction.

MVP Best Bet

Kevin Durant (+800): Durant is poised to lead the Brooklyn Nets to the top of the Eastern Conference and possibly the NBA Finals. If Brooklyn is as good as many analysts and fans think they will be, Durant will be the reason why. That will have him in the MVP mix.

MVP Longshot

LeBron James (+1800): It feels weird to call LeBron James a longshot to win anything, but he’s behind anywhere from seven to nine other candidates. It feels like James has one last big run in him. The Lakers are going to be good no matter what. If James lifts them to the top of the Western Conference, he’ll get MVP consideration.

Rookie of the Year Picks

The favorites here are a take-your-pick between Jalen Green (+250) and Cade Cunningham (+300). Winning Rookie of the Year is often about stats and not much else. Those guys are good, but they may not be the Number 1 option on either of their teams. That pushes the door open for someone else to step through.

Rookie of the Year Best Bet

Jalen Suggs (+800): The Orlando Magic are going to be terrible. But that’s a good thing for Suggs. He’ll have a really long leash to play through mistakes. And Orlando has very little shot creation. That means Suggs will have the ball a lot, and he’ll put up numbers. He’s also already a pretty solid defender, which gives his stat-line another boost too.

Rookie of the Year Longshot

Chris Duarte (+3500): If the Pacers are good, Duarte will be a big reason why. He’s going to play, and possibly start, right from opening night. He’s older for a rookie, so Duarte comes in a little more ready to play. If everything breaks right, he could be the fun narrative for Rookie of the Year, and that will gain him votes.

Regular Season NBA Leading Scorer Picks

Bradley Beal (+350) and Luka Doncic (+500) both headline this group. They are both amazing scorers, but don’t be surprised if both take a slight step back in that department. Beal has talked about upping his playmaking game this year, as the Wizards have a lot of other scorers now. Doncic knows he needs to enable Kristaps Porzingis for Dallas to climb in the Western Conference. That probably comes with giving up some shots to the big fella.

Leading Scorer Best Bet

Stephen Curry (+600): Curry is going to put up points. The Warriors were launching threes at an unheard-of rate this preseason, led by Curry. Golden State knows that they can defend enough to be good, but to be great, they need the offense to cook. Curry will captain that charge.

Leading Scorer Longshots

We’re going with two here…Jayson Tatum (+2000) and Trae Young (+3000): Tatum has talked a lot about getting downhill more and drawing more free throws. If that happens, he’s going to be a 30-point per game scorer. Young has to share the ball a lot in Atlanta, but if he can up his efficiency some, he’ll be back near 30 points per game too. If you score 30 points per game, you’re in the mix to win the scoring title. Both Tatum and Young could get there.

2021-22 NBA Champions Picks

You know the favorites. The Brooklyn Nets (+250) and Los Angeles Lakers (+400) lead the way, with the Milwaukee Bucks (+900) only slight behind them. Picking anyone but one of those three seems like you’re getting crazy.

NBA Champions Best Bets

It’s one out of the Nets, Lakers or Bucks. It’s hard to see anyone else cracking that triumvirate, barring a major injury.

NBA Champions Longshots

Because the Best Bets are so…well…chalky, we’re going to give you three different longshots. In the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat (+2600) are built for the playoffs. Don’t be scared off by a blah regular season from Miami. They aren’t going to push a veteran-laden roster overly hard. They already know they can beat Milwaukee and would relish a chance to break that 1-1 playoff series tie. They’ve got the defenders and vets to beat the Nets and Lakers, should the Heat get that far.

Out West, the Denver Nuggets (+2500) and Dallas Mavericks (+3000) both seem ready to make a leap. It’s hard to trust the Utah Jazz (+1600) once the regular season ends, so we’re looking at Denver and Dallas to derail Showtime in LA. Nikola Jokic (+1600) could win MVP again and Luka Doncic (+500) is knocking on that door. And both have pretty good talent around them. If someone knocks off the Lakers and uses that momentum to win the NBA Finals, look here. Slight edge to Denver if Jamal Murray can get back and really contribute this season. That would be like a mega trade deadline acquisition.

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