Best bets to lead NBA in points, rebounds, assists, 3-pointers
While betting on NBA awards markets can be rewarding if you get it right, it's often frustrating for bettors who make the "right" call but are foiled by narrative, injuries, or simply poor voting outcomes.
That isn't the case with betting statistical leaders, where the NBA's best often rise to the top of the leaderboard. Even injuries aren't as much of a factor, as the winner is determined on a per-game basis among those who play enough to qualify.
Here are the odds to lead the NBA in each statistical category (100-1 or shorter) and our best bet for each:
Points per game
The easy answer here is Bradley Beal, who was the runner-up in scoring in 2019-20 (30.5) and looked like he'd break through in 2020-21 (31.3) before Stephen Curry's late surge a season ago. This campaign, without an All-Star running mate for only the second time in his career, the Wizards star should have a dynamite scoring season.
If you're like me, though, laying such short odds on anyone other than a perennial market winner is a tough sell. Instead, I'm targeting Paul George, who averaged 28 points in an MVP-level campaign for the Thunder in 2018-19 before taking a backseat to Kawhi Leonard each of the last two seasons with the Clippers. With Leonard likely sidelined for most (if not all) of this campaign, it's time for George to feast again.
Value: Paul George (+3000)
Rebounds per game
There are plenty of player markets to get cute with. This isn't one of them. Clint Capela (14.3 rebounds) and Rudy Gobert (13.5) were a full rebound ahead of the next-closest competitor a season ago and have ranked in the top five in three straight campaigns. Only Andre Drummond can say the same, though he'll assume a bench role with the 76ers this season, which effectively kills his chances to post another league-leading total.
If you're looking for a long shot, Enes Kanter is an intriguing play at 50-1. He finished last campaign ranked ninth in rebounds per game (11.0) but second in rebounding rate (24.2%), and he could potentially work his way into a sizable role for a thin Celtics frontcourt. Still, it's hard to see enough playing time for the Turkish big man to compete with a healthy Capela.
Value: Clint Capela (+120)
Assists per game
This market has been dominated by Russell Westbrook, who's led the NBA in assists per game in three of the last four campaigns. James Harden led the league in 2016-17 and would've finished second last season if he'd played enough games. Both are solid bets for 2021-22 thanks to loaded supporting casts, though usage is a concern for each, especially at such short odds.
Trae Young is a compelling bet after finishing second among qualified passers each of the last two campaigns, and LeBron James is just two seasons removed from leading the league in assists. Yet the biggest value here is clearly Ben Simmons, who ranked in the top six in assists in each of his first three campaigns before a 12th-place finish a season ago. If he's traded to a team that hands him the keys to its offense, this will be a screaming value.
Value: Ben Simmons (+5000)
3-pointers per game
|Michael Porter Jr.||+4000|
|Tim Hardaway Jr.||+6000|
|Gary Trent Jr.||+8000|
If you're looking for volatility, this isn't the market for it. Curry has led the league in made threes per game in every healthy season since 2012-13, with one of James Harden, Damian Lillard, or Klay Thompson rounding out the top two in each of the last seven campaigns.
Curry was left off the leaderboard in an injury-shortened 2019-20 season, which makes him a risky bet at such a short price just two campaigns later. If you're going to fade Curry, consider betting CJ McCollum, who ranked fourth in made threes (3.6) in a breakout 2020-21 season marred by injuries. He was hitting 4.8 triples per game before his injury and is worth a long-shot bet to continue his upward trajectory this campaign.
Value: CJ McCollum (+3500)
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