Courtney Vandersloot looks to ‘new beginning’ apart from Sky
The point guard spent her first 12 seasons in Chicago.
The WNBA’s new playoff format means more games, more action, and yes, more betting options in the opening week. If you’ve been following the league but haven’t bet on it before, now is a great time to start. Be sure to check out our primer from last season to get caught up on the basics.
For those of you ready to jump in as Round 1 gets underway Wednesday, let’s break down all the ways you can get involved when it comes to betting on the WNBA playoffs.
The easiest way is still to place your typical bets on the results of a single game. Just like in the regular season, you’ll be able to bet on which team will win the game (moneyline), which team will cover the spread and how many total points will be scored.
You’ll also have what are called “derivative markets,” which are the same type of bets, just on a specific quarter or half rather than the full game. Think the Aces will get out to a hot start, but not sure you want to bet on them for the full game in case they rest their starters in the final minutes? Take them to cover the spread in the first quarter or first half instead.
All of these bets are still available during the game, with the odds updating live. There can be real value in them if you’re plugged into what’s happening on the court, so it’s a great reason to watch the games. Star player heads to the bench with foul trouble? Maybe it’s time to bet on the other team.
The best bets will change as the playoffs go on, but in the opening games, keep an eye on Dallas +10.5. The Wings have covered the spread in 20 of 28 games as road underdogs the last two seasons, and they seem to have found a groove since Arike Ogunbowale went down with an injury.
Another bet worth looking at is the over in Game 1 of the Washington-Seattle series. Sitting at 158.5 or 159 in most books, this is a number that may have made more sense a few weeks ago. With the way the Storm offense has dominated the last several games, they should be able to get this game into the 160s, even against the Mystics’ staunch defense. In addition, totals below 160 have hit the over more than 60 percent of the time this season.
Betting on the result of a series, rather than one game, can be one of the most fun ways to bet on the playoffs. There are a few sportsbooks with these lines already posted, and more should continue to add them as we go.
The best place to find the most options is generally going to be FanDuel. As of now, FanDuel allows you to bet on each series in three different ways.
You can bet on the winner of the series, which is pretty straightforward. You can bet on the correct score of the series, so if you’re confident enough in the Sky winning that you believe they’ll win 2-0, you can place a more specific bet on that result.
You can also even bet on the exact order of the games. So, for example, not only can you bet on the Sun to beat the Wings 2-1, but you can bet on the Sun winning Games 1 and 3 while the Wings win Game 2, or you can bet on the Wings stealing Game 1 and the Sun winning Games 2 and 3.
This is also an area where Dallas may be a good bet. While the Wings’ penchant for playing well as underdogs on the road may not be enough to win the series, it might be worth a shot to bet on the 2-1 Sun result and hope that Dallas can pull off at least one upset win.
The Mystics-Storm series is another intriguing one to bet on. As the most evenly-matched series by far, there’s a good chance it gives us a Game 3. It could be worthwhile to bet on Seattle 2-1 and/or Washington 2-1.
Futures bets on who will win the championship have been available since before the season even began, but for those who are too impatient to place a bet that won’t be decided for several months, the playoffs present another opportunity.
There are a lot of factors to consider when placing these bets beyond simply who the best team is. Which team has the best odds? Are there any injuries that will come into play? Does one team have an easier path?
All of these questions need to be considered when betting on a champion. In this year’s playoffs, the injury to Dearica Hamby could loom large. The Aces are slim title favorites, and they should be able to get past an even more shorthanded Phoenix squad in the first round. But if Hamby remains out beyond Round 1, Las Vegas’ lack of depth could present a problem. During the regular season, the Aces were outscored in the minutes when at least one bench player was on the court.
A better place to look might be Connecticut, who led the league in margin per game and margin per 100 possessions. While part of the reason for that was head coach Curt Miller’s tendency to play his starters longer than most, the Sun still deserve to be in the title conversation alongside the Aces and the Sky. Considering sportsbooks are giving us much better odds on them than they are on either Las Vegas or Chicago, the Sun look like the best bet.
The other fun futures bet during the playoffs is on the Finals MVP. We don’t have odds on this yet, but we will get them when the Finals matchup is set at the very latest. A lot of sportsbooks have been posting other types of bets earlier and earlier, so it’s possible we see Finals MVP odds while the semifinals are still going on.
Betting on the Finals MVP is always tough, because the winner essentially always comes from the championship team. That means you have to account for two different factors at the same time: the chance that the player’s team wins the title, and the chance that the player is the top performer on that team during the series.
The 2022 season was the first in which sportsbooks offered WNBA player props, and you can expect these options to continue to expand. So far, only BetRivers, Unibet, Bet365 and Fanduel have posted them. Some books have had them more consistently than others, so it remains to be seen how many will be offered for the playoffs, but FanDuel, BetRivers, and Unibet have already posted some for Wednesday’s games. Keep your eye out, as there are sure to be more coming soon.
Player props are bets on a player to go over or under a certain number for a certain stat. For example, you might bet on A’ja Wilson to have over 9.5 rebounds. So far, points, rebounds and assists have been the three stats offered.
These are the bets with perhaps the most value, as they are the lines that are the most difficult for sportsbooks to properly set. So much needs to be factored in beyond a player’s average in that stat: the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, recent lineup or rotation changes, a player’s history in that matchup, etc. If you can find something that the sportsbooks didn’t account for, you can find an edge.
For instance, when Connecticut was set to take on Las Vegas on July 17, Jonquel Jones was ruled out due to health and safety protocols. Jones’ absence naturally led to more scoring and rebounding opportunities for players like DeWanna Bonner, Alyssa Thomas and Brionna Jones, but sportsbooks didn’t increase their lines on those props until a few hours after the news was released. Betting on those overs would have been profitable that day.
FanDuel also has rolled out some brand new player prop bets just in time for the playoffs. The first, a bet on a player to score 20+ points, is simply an alternate way to bet on a player’s scoring total if you think they are in store for a big game.
The other is a bet on which player will score the first basket. This can be one of the most exciting bets, as you don’t even have to wait a full quarter for it to be decided. If you don’t want to sweat out a bet for days or even hours or minutes, you can give this a shot and you’ll probably know the result within the opening minute of the game.
FIRST PLAYER TO SCORE IS FINALLY HERE!!! pic.twitter.com/U2IJQZWGrb— Calvin Wetzel (@cwetzel31) August 16, 2022
When betting on first basket props, keep in mind that the team that wins the jump ball is more likely to score first. This makes players on Connecticut more valuable. Jonquel Jones is the best jump-ball winner of the centers in the playoffs, winning over two-thirds of her tips over the last three seasons, and the Sun tied for the league lead this year with 22 games in which they scored first.
With all of the growing options, there’s bound to be something for everyone who’s looking to bet on the WNBA. And with more and more states continuing to join the movement, fans in over two-thirds of the country can now get in on the action.
Whether you bet or not, make sure to tune in all postseason long. With as many as five legitimate title contenders and no runaway favorite, the next month promises to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Calvin Wetzel is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering basketball and betting. He also contributes to Her Hoop Stats, CBS SportsLine and FiveThirtyEight. Follow him on Twitter at @cwetzel31.
The point guard spent her first 12 seasons in Chicago.
Courtney Vandersloot and Breanna Stewart lead a stacked class.
Plus, Brittney Sykes is joining the Mystics.
Get a rundown of the top highlights, stories, and events in women’s sports, including can’t-miss games and exclusive features.
20% off all JWS merch, now through December 18th.