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DraftKings Daring Bettors To Take Pessimistic Stance Toward Pistons

If sportsbook’s season win total proves accurate, Detroit could set a dubious record




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Jerami Grant Nerlens Noel Detroit Pistons

What do Jerami Grant and Nerlens Noel have in common? They’re both former Detroit Pistons who were teammates on the second-worst squad in NBA history over a full 82-game span.

That team was the 2015-2016 Philadelphia 76ers, who were deeply committed to “the process” of trying to tank into the lottery. Paced by leading scorers Jahlil Okafor and Ish Smith, they finished the season with a record of 10-72. Only the 1972-1973 Sixers, with a record of 9-73, were worse.

DraftKings thinks this year’s Pistons, who on Saturday broke an NBA-record 28-game losing streak against an undermanned Toronto Raptors squad to earn their third win of the season, have a very real chance of breaking the 82-game mark mark for futility. DraftKings set the team’s season win total at 9.5 before Saturday’s win and dared bettors to take the under with juicy pricing of +225.

“We had the moneyline much higher on the over, so they’ve certainly been betting the under a little bit and we’ve been making adjustments as they continue to keep losing,” veteran boookmaker Johnny Avello, DraftKings’ director of race and sportsbook operations, said last week.

Speaking of the moneyline, Avello added that bettors have been wagering on those of Detrtoit’s opponents at a rate up to eight times more than they’ve backed the Pistons to win, no matter how crummy the payout ratio.

They go low, we go lower

DraftKings is somewhat unique among betting apps in its extreme pessimism concerning Detroit’s season-long fortunes. FanDuel, for instance, has Detroit’s season win total set at 11.5 with +110 odds on the under.

“We’ve never put up a total this low, because we never normally do it during the course of the season,” Avello explained of DraftKings’ lower number. “But at DraftKings, we take a hot sports subject that’s out there and we make a bet out of it. We’ve had this up for a little bit now, and the Pistons are really struggling.”

Should things get to a point where Detroit looks like it could break Charlotte’s record for the fewest wins in any season since the NBA’s inception (then known as the Bobcats, Charlotte finished 7-59 in the strike-shortened 2011-2012 campaign), Avello said he’s open to offering other doomsday markets on the Pistons.

But a big part of him would prefer the Pistons just win a little more.

“We’re gonna keep the wins up,” Avello said of the current offering. “Will they get to seven? Will they break the all-time loss record? We may put something like that up.

“It’s kind of depressing. These guys, they want to win. They’re tired of being in the news for losing. I’d like to see them turn it around. I’d rather do stuff when teams are winning.”

Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images