Betting buzz: Clark, Fever draw 3 times more bets than WNBA average


Everything that happens in sports has some additional context when viewed from a sports betting perspective. From season-changing injuries to record-setting moments and so much more, the sports news cycle will constantly and significantly affect the sports betting industry.

Our betting buzz file, with contributions from David Purdum, Doug Greenberg and others, aims to provide fans with a look at the sports betting stories that are driving the conversation.

Key links: Sports betting home | NBA odds page | NHL odds page

July 8: Caitlin Clark effect: Fever games draw three times more bets than WNBA average

David Purdum: WNBA games involving Caitlin Clark attracted approximately three times more bets than games without her in May, according to recently released results of an analysis by marketing firm Optimove.

Optimove, which works with sports betting and internet gaming companies, says it analyzed 15 million WNBA bets placed on 43 games during the month of May, including nine featuring Clark and the Indiana Fever. On average, Fever games saw a 380% increase in the number of bets compared to the baseline game (Washington Mystics-Connecticut Sun, May 17).

The Fever’s season-opener against the Sun on May 14 attracted more bets than any other game during the month, according to the analysis. The Fever were involved in each of the five games that attracted the most bets during the first month of the season.

Optimove also analyzed Clark’s impact on the betting market during the final rounds of the NCAA women’s tournament this spring and found a similar surge in interest. Games involving Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes attracted 540% more bets on average in the Elite 8, Final Four and championship game.

Clark, who on Saturday became the first WNBA rookie to record a triple-double, is a -550 favorite to win Rookie of the Year at ESPN BET, followed by Angel Reese of the Chicago Sky at +300.

July 3: 76ers moves past Knicks in NBA title betting odds

Purdum: As NBA free agency winds down, three of the top four betting favorites to win next season’s title hail from the Eastern Conference – including the rising Philadelphia 76ers.

The 76ers’ title odds at ESPN BET moved from 12-1 to 7-1 this week after signing veteran free agent Paul George on Monday. George, along with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, give Philadelphia three all-stars from last season making them the defending-champion Boston Celtics’ biggest competition in the East, just ahead of the New York Knicks.

As of Wednesday, the Celtics are 3-1 to repeat as NBA champions, followed by the Oklahoma City Thunder and 76ers, who are each at 8-1. The Knicks are +825.

Notable NBA title odds movement at ESPN BET:

Dallas Mavericks: The addition of Klay Thompson had minimal impact on Dallas’ title odds. The Mavs moved from 11-1 to 10-1.

New Orleans Pelicans: New Orleans acquired guard Dejounte Murray from the Atlanta Hawks in a trade, a move that shortened the Pelicans’ title odds from 60-1 to 50-1.

Oklahoma City Thunder: With the additions of Alex Caruso and Isaiah Hartenstein, Oklahoma City moved ahead of the Denver Nuggets on odds boards. The Thunder went from 10-1 to 8-1, while the Nuggets have fallen from +650 to +875.

Orlando Magic: Orlando’s odds improved from 80-1 to 50-1, some of the movement the result of the addition of guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Golden State Warriors: With the loss of Thompson and Chris Paul, Golden State’s odds have lengthened from 22-1 to 40-1.

LA Clippers: James Harden is returning, but with the loss of George to the 76ers, the Clippers’ odds have moved from 20-1 to 40-1.

July 2: Predators move big, Oilers become favorites after free agent frenzy

Doug Greenberg: July 1 is always a big day for the NHL but 2024’s edition was one of the biggest yet, with over $1 billion in new deals handed out through free agent contracts and extensions. Amid all the transactions made by teams in the daylong frenzy, arguably no one made a bigger splash than the Nashville Predators, who saw their future odds and action see considerable activity as a result.

The Preds saw the most line movement of any team in the league at ESPN BET, moving from 35-1 to 18-1 to win the Stanley Cup in 2025. DraftKings reports identical movement, while FanDuel moved Nashville from 31-1 to 20-1. DraftKings also took the Preds from 17-1 to +900 to win the Western Conference.

The thrilling additions of Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Marchessault and Brady Skjei, among others, has the Predators as one of the most popular teams with the betting public: DraftKings says that, since June 30, Nashville has taken 35% of the bets and 76% of the handle to win the conference.

However, there was one team that took more bets (42%) to win the West over the same time period and that was the reigning Western Conference champion Edmonton Oilers, who solidified what is likely the best offense in the NHL by re-signing Adam Henrique, Mattias Janmark and Corey Perry, then bolstered it by adding Jeff Skinner and Viktor Arvidsson.

Those transactions moved them from 10-1 at their opening odds to +900 on Tuesday morning on ESPN BET, tying them with the reigning Stanley Cup champion Florida Panthers to win it all; Edmonton became the outright favorites at +800 a short time later. The sportsbook also notes that their odds of winning the Pacific Division shortened as well.

But for the big winners in the betting odds after the first day of NHL free agency, there were also a few losers. The 2023 Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights moved from 11-1 to 18-1, and the Carolina Hurricanes, who were favored to win it all in 2024 at the start of the playoffs, moved from +950 to 14-1 to hoist the Cup in 2025, per FanDuel.

July 1: Esper betting favorite with Chestnut out

David Purdum: Geoffrey Esper has been installed as the betting favorite at ESPN BET for Thursday’s Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, with 16-time champion Joey Chestnut out of the competition due to a sponsorship squabble.

Esper opened as a -110 favorite. He ate 49 hot dogs and buns last year to finish in second behind Chestnut. James Webb is 2-1, followed by Nick Wehry at 7-1. Chestnut was ruled out of the annual Fourth of July contest at New York City’s Coney Island, after he agreed to a sponsorship deal with Impossible Foods, a company that makes plant-based hot dogs, and a competitor of Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs.

“It would be like Michael Jordan saying to Nike, ‘I’m going to represent Adidas, too,'” Major League Eating event organizer George Shea said. Chestnut owns the top 10 performances at the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, including downing a record 76 hot dogs and buns in 2021. He won last year’s competition with 62 hot dogs and buns.

Chestnut will be competing in a five-minute hot dog eating contest Thursday against soldiers at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.

The Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest will air Thursday, at 10:45 a.m. ET on ESPN, starting with the women’s competition on ESPN3 and followed by the men’s competition, beginning at noon on ESPN 2.

ESPN BET oddsmakers are expecting a tight contest at the Nathan’s Contest. The over/under on Esper’s total hot dogs and buns eaten was 49.5 (-120 over), while Webb’s over/under was set at 48.5.

Odds to win the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest men’s competition Odds by ESPN BET; as of July 1

June 28: Knicks have best preseason title odds this century

Purdum: In the betting market’s eyes, the most impactful moment of the NBA draft occurred approximately 24 hours prior to Wednesday’s first round, when the New York Knicks traded for Mikal Bridges.

The Knicks’ odds to win the title at ESPN BET went from 16-1 to 10-1 after the trade. New York’s odds had shortened to 8-1 by Friday, the second-best odds in the Eastern Conference behind the champion Boston Celtics, and third best overall. The Denver Nuggets have the shortest odds to win the title in the Western Conference at 15-2.

Additionally, multiple sportsbooks reported an uptick in action on the Knicks to win the 2025 NBA title in the days after the Bridges trade, which was reported Tuesday around 10 p.m. ET. Betting interest on the NBA title 12 months in advance is typically minimal and driven by recreational bettors, but the Knicks attracted more action since the trade than all other teams combined at some sportsbooks.

On Thursday afternoon, DraftKings reported 76% of the money that had been bet on the NBA championship winner market since the Bridges trade was on the Knicks. Fanatics and BetMGM reported similar results.

The Knicks gave up Bojan Bogdanovic and four unprotected first-round picks to get Bridges from the Brooklyn Nets, but now have their best preseason title odds this century. According to betting odds archive SportsOddsHistory.com, the last time the Knicks had preseason title odds shorter than 9-1 was in the fall of 2000.

June 27: Sarr opens as betting favorite for Rookie of the Year

Purdum: Zaccharie Risacher went No. 1 to the Atlanta Hawks in Wednesday’s NBA draft, but the French forward did not open as the betting favorite to win Rookie of the Year.

Sportsbooks have installed Alex Sarr as the Rookie of the Year favorite. Sarr, who was taken with the second pick by the Washington Wizards, opened at ESPN BET as the favorite at +350 on Wednesday. His odds had drifted to +400 as of Thursday morning. Risacher was next at +500, followed by Stephon Castle (+700) of the San Antonio Spurs and Matas Buzelis (+900) of the Chicago Bulls. Dalton Knecht of the Los Angeles Lakers was 10-1, as was Reed Sheppard of the Houston Rockets, followed by Zach Edey of the Memphis Grizzlies at 11-1.

Andre Snellings’ take on the odds: Sarr starts the season as the leader in the Rookie of the Year race. He is just ahead of top pick Risacher, though neither is anywhere near the odds-on favorite Victor Wembanyama was a year ago. Castle and Buzelis have the next two shortest odds as rookies with starting upside right away.

Edey and Donovan Clingan are both huge centers for teams that coveted that position, and if they get starter minutes and can adjust to the speed of the NBA, they have major defensive upside. Knecht is a gifted scorer that, if he earns starter minutes, could be relied upon heavily by the Lakers even as a rookie. Rob Dillingham was regarded as one of the best offensive players in the draft and could fill a major need for a contending Timberwolves squad.

Early pick: Stephon Castle to win Rookie of the year (+650)

At present, I see the most value in Castle for Rookie of the Year. He seems to be in the sweet spot of talent, skillset, opportunity and likelihood of notice. The Spurs will already be an exciting young team due to the excellence of Wembanyama, but they sorely missed having a lead guard last season. With his defensive excellence, Castle should be a great fit in Coach Gregg Popovich’s system. If Castle starts for the Spurs, he has the opportunity to put up strong all-around stats for an improving young team that will be televised and on “SportsCenter” often. That sounds like a recipe for a potential Rookie of the Year.



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