SBC Americas caught up with DraftKings Head of Sportsbook Johnny Avello this week for a quick-fire Q&A on how things are shaping up in the NBA Finals.
SBC Americas: With the star power of Steph Curry and Kawhi Leonard, how popular have player props been in this year’s NBA finals?
Johnny Avello: Player props have been popular for quite some time now. It’s a different type of handicapping process but sophisticated and casual players alike love them.
SBCA: Given the close nature of the first two games, could we be seeing game seven in this series?
JA: It’s quite possible, for the simple fact that the best team in the NBA is clearly not at full strength.
SBCA: How much has engagement increased with the added narrative that’s brought to the finals by the incredible rise of the Raptors?
JA: If it wasn’t going to be the Cavs in the Finals, and it wasn’t, there were a handful of teams that could have also gotten this far. The Leonard story of not wanting to be in Toronto and then the team making this run, makes for the interesting narrative this year.
SBCA: What impact has Kevin Durant’s injury had on trading for the finals?
JA: His absence really doesn’t make a difference from a trading perspective. When he’s in he gets the most touches and when he’s not, they’re dispersed. Therefore, propositions need to be adjusted accordingly.
SBCA: What makes an NBA Finals series such a unique market to price. What factors and dynamics are you measuring with regards to the ‘final 2’?
JA: Injuries, experience and home court advantage are big factors. But it’s also very different from other sports because it’s a best of seven series versus one game, so there are lots of adjustments that the teams and players can make. We as bookmakers also have to adjust accordingly.
SBCA: Does a final loss for the Golden State Warriors point towards the end of their dynasty?
JA: Not necessarily, but I can tell you that the competition is closing the gap. I think the one thing this series is making clear is that Golden State is no longer the unstoppable juggernaut they once were, the league has adjusted.
SBCA: Who will win the coveted Finals MVP award?
JA: If GS wins it, the MVP will most likely be Curry, Green or Thompson (if the injury isn’t too severe). For the Raptors, I believe Leonard stands alone.
SBCA: Finally, and most importantly, does DraftKings believe in the dreaded ‘Drake Curse’?
JA: Are you kidding? We’re bookmakers and don’t set our lines on Hip Hop Wicca!