Betting on the Denver Nuggets

The NBA franchise currently known as the Denver Nuggets began play in the ABA as the Denver Rockets. Originally earmarked for Kansas City, the move to Denver was done because of Kansas City’s lack of an arena.

McNichols Arena beckoned, the Rockets nickname was chosen because that’s what majority owner Bill Ringsby called his long-haul trucks, and in 1967, a basketball franchise was born.

A few years later and under new ownership, the team began looking ahead to a move to the NBA. The Rockets name was already taken by Houston, so a contest was held to choose a new nickname. Nuggets was the choice, in honor of a long-ago defunct Denver Nuggets team that played a single season in the NBA (1949-50) and finished that year 11-51.

Fortunately for Denver basketball fans, this new version of the Denver Nuggets was light years better than the old Denver Nuggets. In 1977, its first in the NBA, Denver won 50 games and made it to the Western Conference semifinals. In 1978, the Nuggets made it to the Western Conference Finals before losing to Seattle.

The Nuggets have never made it to the NBA Finals, losing twice more in the conference finals. They lost in 1985 and 2009, both times to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Future Outlook

As the state’s only professional sports franchise yet to make it to a championship series, the Nuggets have a less successful history than the Broncos, Avalanche, or Rockies. But in both 2019 and 2020, the Nuggets won the Northwest Division, and they have been doing it with some of the brightest young stars in the league.

Getting through Western Conference franchises like the Lakers and Warriors – who always seem to field championship-caliber teams – is going to be tough for the Nuggets. But they’ve got stability and quality on the bench – head coach Michael Malone has been with the team since 2015 – and the team has made a decided turn towards youth.

Playing at a mile high, this team feels like it can run any other team out of their building. And they’ve built the roster to do just that. They are young, fast, and in better shape than any of their sea-level based opponents.

In fact, studies show that, year after year, the Nuggets enjoy the best home-court advantage in the NBA. Number two on that list are the Utah Jazz, who also play at elevation: 4,226 feet, compared to Denver’s 5,280.

Nuggets Betting Forecast

Of the four major American professional team sports, the NBA is considered the easiest to predict winners on a nightly basis. This affects betting on the NBA in two major ways.

First, the bettor can more easily handicap the games. Trends are easy to spot, basketball betting isn’t complicated, and, when formulating a wagering plan, the bettor is more informed.

But the flip side of this is that the bookmakers also have these same advantages, and when it comes to setting point spreads and odds, their opening lines are right on the money (pun intended.)

One thing to note about the point spread in NBA betting: Like the NFL, bookmakers often give an automatic three points to the home team. You might even see a higher number for the Nuggets since their home-court advantage is so large.

But when crunching the numbers, we see that the real home-court advantage across the league is 2.33 points. And when it comes to placing wagers, that two-thirds of a point can be very big.

It’s worth noting that in this most recent season, the Nuggets were actually three games under .500 against the spread, but over .500 against the spread when playing at home.

All of this is to say – do your homework, study the schedule, and understand that well-rested teams do better. Also, remember that, compared to the rest of the NBA, the Nuggets’ home vs. road disparity is bigger than anyone else.

Star Players

The Nuggets boast three Hall of Famers that played the majority of their careers in Denver – David Thompson, one of only six NBA players to score 70 points in a game; Alex English, the team’s all-time leading scorer; and Dan Issel, who played 10 seasons in Denver and coached another six.

It would not be surprising if someone from this current crop of stars eventually joins them in the Hall of Fame.

Nikola Jokic, Center: There is no player more important to the Nuggets than 7-foot center Nikola Jokic. In 2019, he became just the fourth NBA player to record a triple-double in his playoff debut – the first since LeBron James did it in 2006. And five games later, he scored 43 points and is credited with single-handedly taking Denver to the next round.

Jamal Murray, Guard: If someone is going to knock Jokic off the team’s most important player list, it’s likely to be point guard Jamal Murray. In Denver’s 2020 playoff series against the Jazz, Murray scored a career-high 50 points, and then followed that up with 42 points. Only two players in NBA history have scored 50 in a playoff game, followed by 40: Murray and a guy named Michael Jordan.

Michael Porter Jr., Forward: The 14th overall pick in the 2018 draft, injuries wiped out Michael Porter Jr.’s first season in Denver. The wait has been worth it, however.

In the 2020 bubble in Orlando, a healthy Porter showed all the talent that made him a McDonald’s All-American. He is going to be an offensive wonder in Denver for many years to come.

FAQ on Betting the Nuggets

Is it legal to bet on the Nuggets at a Colorado sportsbook?

Yes. Colorado sports betting laws do not place any wagering restrictions on betting local professional or college teams.

Is it legal to bet on the NBA Draft in Colorado?

Yes. The only basketball betting restrictions in Colorado have to do with proposition bets on college players. Once those players have entered the NBA Draft, they are no longer college players. That makes prop bets like where they will be drafted and who the Nuggets will select with their first-round pick legal to place.