After what can only be described as one of the most dramatic, important off-seasons in Portland Trail Blazers history, Rip City can finally exhale, knowing the roster is (potentially) set for the 2023-24 NBA season.
For those looking to cash in on the Blazers—or at least add another level of entertainment these next six months—remember one of the golden rules of sports betting: The safer the bet, the more likely the win.
Simple right? The only problem is that we have a different cliche in mind at the moment: The higher the risk, the higher the reward.
Without getting too ahead of ourselves (we’re not picking Portland to win the title…sorry), we’re looking at some of the bolder bets you could place on the Trail Blazers this season without feeling like you’ve tossed your cash directly into a dumpster fire.
Actually, the last one on this list might qualify as tinder … but we’re here to have some fun.
Check out the odds below and hit the comments to let us know which bets you’re placing on the 2023-24 Portland Trail Blazers.
*The following odds are courtesy of DraftKings.
Scoot Henderson Rookie of the Year
The NBA has found its next generational star-in-the-making—and his name is Victor Wembanyama.
It’s no surprise after watching the worldwide Wemby show play out this summer that the 7’3”, 19-year-old prospect from France sits No. 1 atop the Rookie of the Year ladder (+100). But he’s also joining an organization notorious for slow-playing young stars. For that to change, we’d need the Spurs in playoff contention, which is unlikely. Gregg Popovich’s five-year extension also implies he’ll be in no rush to win it all in 2024.
In Portland, Scoot Henderson, too, has the keys to his franchise, but load management won’t be on anyone’s mind. Everyone from Jody Allen to Joe Cronin and Chauncey Billups will allow and encourage the rookie to go from 0 to 60 as fast as he possibly can. And as Robert Williams III has already pointed out: “That mother f****r’s fast.”
Without putting too much pressure on Scoot to win games, this season still has the potential to be great for the No. 3 pick. Between his pace, playmaking, athleticism, and knack for scoring, he’s a voter’s dream when it comes to the Rookie of the Year race.
Predicting anybody to beat out Wemby is bold, considering the attention and praise he’s received before ever playing an NBA game. But at +250, and knowing how overly determined to dominate Scoot is in Year 1 after two seasons with G League Ignite, this feels like an award that could become Scoot’s to lose at some point.
Deandre Ayton Rebounding Champion
“Overly Determined to Dominate” may be Scoot Henderson’s personal and professional motto, but it also has the potential to become something of a mantra for this entire young squad, Deandre “DominAyton” included.
Deandre Ayton finished 12th in rebounds per game at 10.0 last season, just 2.5 boards fewer than No. 1 Anthony Davis. This year, he enters tied with Jonas Valanciunas for 10th-best odds to lead the league, but there’s reason for more optimism around a player with a fresh start.
On the other hand, Ayton out-rebounding the likes of Davis (+275), Domantas Sabonis (+275), or Nikola Jokic (+300) feels pretty out there. Not to mention Damian Lillard’s new superstar running mate, Giannis Antetokounmpo (+475).
But if there were ever a time to buy in on a revitalized Ayton, who should be motivated by more touches on a young roster, now is it.
Projecting a career year for Ayton isn’t unrealistic, and as it often does for bigs, it could start on the glass.
Anfernee Simons Most Improved Player
There are a few things going against Simons in this category worth hitting upfront.
For starters, the names above him will be tough competition. That’s a given for any award, but someone like Tyrese Maxey (+1000) should see a monumental role increase, assuming James Harden is dealt. Mikal Bridges (+750) is primed for a career year with a full season in Brooklyn. Cade Cunningham (+1300) will make sure the league knows his name after playing just 12 games last year as a sophomore.
Also going against Simons is the fact that he’s taken notable leaps each of the last two seasons. Would another glow-up really catch the attention of voters after scoring a career-best 21.1 points per game last season?
Luckily, there’s precedence that says that might not matter. At least, not as much as it used to. These days, the award seems to find players who’ve not just leaped but made a true leap into stardom.
With Lillard gone to Milwaukee and Portland’s newest potential face of the franchise just 19 years old, Simons, 24, could be let loose in a new way alongside Scoot.
Of course, if this one isn’t bold enough for you, there’s always Anfernee for NBA Scoring Champion. Simons sits in 26th entering the year (tied with nine other players) at +20000.
That’s too rich for my blood. But if you believe in Simons’ leap and feel like taking one yourself, I won’t stop you.
Trail Blazers To Participate In Play-In Tournament
Rank: T-14 (Western Conference)
This is the one that might spark that dumpster fire if you strike it too hot around other trash bets. But hey—we’re not picking Portland for the Finals. And this isn’t a prediction about the playoffs.
The Play-In Tournament is a pipe dream for a Blazers team building a new identity, but it’s one that feels like a true if improbable, best-case scenario worth eyeing.
To start the year, we will likely see both depth and youth prove problematic, at least for stretches. That could help inform the direction ahead of and post-trade deadline, taking the Play-In Tournament off the table.
But this group also has the firepower and potential at the top that a surprising—okay, shocking—run toward the postseason would make for maybe the league’s best story of the year.
Outside the tournament, there are plenty of ways to bet on the Blazers’ season-long outcome. The most conservative would be 20+ wins at -1400 odds; the next level up is 25+ wins at -310 odds.
If you’re feeling spicy, 30+ wins currently sit at +100; 35+ wins at +295; 40+ wins at +750; 45 wins at +1500; and then, because DraftKings isn’t completely delusional, they’ve removed Portland from consideration for 50+ wins and beyond.
For now, though, the Play-In Tournament is the hail mary. We might not see a single pundit predict it, but if you want a bold bet, that’s the play for Portland.