On the eve of the 2021-22 NBA season, U.S. sports bettors will be expanding their focus to include the theatre of professional basketball. This is a busy time of year for equal opportunity betting fans; NFL, NCAA FB, NHL, and MLB Playoffs are all ongoing as the NBA gets started.

While the NFL rules as the top betting sport in the U.S., the NBA also has a very significant following. Expanded legalization means many NBA fans will be legally wagering on games from their home state for the first time. The total volume of betting handle across the country will be reaching new heights.

As well as following their favorite team, here are some of the biggest reasons NBA fans are more than ready for the upcoming campaign to get underway.


1. Lebron James

Sports bettors will likely be paying a lot of attention to the Los Angeles Lakers (championship odds of +275) this season. With All-Star Russell Westbrook joining Superstars Anthony Davis and Lebron James, the Lakers look poised for another serious run at an NBA title. Along the way, James will be targeting a couple of key NBA records and milestones.

While becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer will require James to stick around for about two more years, there is a real possibility he will pass Karl Malone on the all-time list this year. James is currently 3rd, 1,561 points away from the Mailman. After averaging over 1,600 points a season for the last four seasons, there is every reason to believe he will pass Malone this year barring injury.

Another important milestone James will be eyeing is minutes played. He is currently 6th on the all-time list and only needs 414 minutes to jump all the way to 3rd.


2. Milwaukee Bucks Repeat?

After limping into the NBA playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks found another gear and stormed through the NBA playoffs. They claimed the second title in their history and first since 1971. Heading into this season, only one team has the opportunity to go back-to-back and that’s the Bucks.

All eyes will undoubtedly be on Giannis Antetokounmpo. After winning the league MVP title in 2019 and 2020, he missed out on three in a row after finishing 4th in voting last year behind Nikola Jokić, Joel Embiid, and Stephen Curry.

Sports bettors might want to note with the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets getting a lot of betting action to win this year’s title, the Bucks are available at a generous +900. That’s a big number for a defending champion.


3. Covid Absentees

While the NBA will be returning to a normal 82 game season, COVID-19 could yet play havoc with sports bettors. On any given night, key players could miss games if they test positive. It adds another factor for astute NBA handicappers to consider when doing their handicapping.

Testing positive is not the only circumstance bettors will need to factor in from a personnel point of view. At the time of writing, Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets is the most high-profile NBA player to decline the vaccine. By doing so, he will not be permitted to play games in states and cities with vaccine mandates. That includes his home state of New York. This means he would have to miss  a minimum of 42 homes games and a few against the New York Knicks. No surprise then that the Nets have not included him on their roster to start the season.


4. Warriors to Challenge Again?

After winning three NBA Championships and appearing in two other finals between 2015 and 2019, the Golden State Warriors have since struggled. Arguably, the downturn in the team’s fortunes are tied to Klay Thompson. He has been plagued with injuries since early 2020.

While Thompson won’t be ready by the start of the new season, he could return to action well before the All-Star break. If he does come back at full strength, the Warriors have enough talent and depth to challenge the Lakers. Bettors will want to keep an eye on the Golden State injury report. They too are sitting at +900 to win the championship.


5. The Young Guns

Another season, another batch of talented rookies entering the league. For sports bettors, that means an opportunity for an edge. Which rookies are going to make an immediate impact? Astute bettors can garner value by finding a diamond in the rough who propels their team to the next level.

While the new class of rookies might be void of potential superstars like Luka Dončić (Dallas) and Zion Williamson, there is some talent here. The players to watch are Cade Cunningham (Detroit), Jalen Green (Houston), and Jalen Suggs (Orlando).