California NBA Betting Guide 2023

Fact Checked by Hunter Hewitt
LeBron James and Steph Curry will be popular for NBA betting in California

Key Takeaways

  • No state in America has more teams than California, and all four of them carry high expectations this season. 
  • The Lakers have LeBron James. The Kings are the league's highest scoring team. The Warriors are always in the title hunt. The Clippers could be great if they can stay healthy.
  • An NBA championship by any of the four California teams is a real possibility in the 2023-34 season.

There is no better state to live in than California. There are four very good teams who all could be great this season. There are celebrities at Lakers and Clippers games, there are crazy high scores at Kings games, and Steph Curry and company on the Golden State Warriors just never get old in San Francisco. Also, those dreadful Eastern Conference games come on at 4 or 4:30 p.m., and those who take part in California sports betting can ignore them.

California NBA Landscape

Aside from the Boston Celtics, no team has been more successful over the years than the Lakers. But in the past decade no team has been better for longer than the Golden State Warriors. The Kings, meanwhile, ended a 17-year playoff drought last postseason, and the Clippers could have four superstars if they acquire James Harden to go along with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook.

Upcoming NBA Season Outlook

If the Clippers stay healthy, they are as good as anybody. If LeBron James stays ageless, he can go to the NBA Finals for the 11th time. The Kings have a great shot out getting out of the first round of the NBA Playoffs if they can keep scoring and get a boost from incoming EuroLeague MVP Sasha Vezenkov. And you never know with Steve Kerr's Golden State Warriors, who have been to the NBA Finals in six of the past nine years.

Betting On The NBA In California

When Proposition 26 and Proposition 27 failed in California last November, it left an uncertain future for the prospect of legalized sports gambling. The tribal groups who have a monopoly on casinos actually outspent the sports betting companies on advertisements, which gives you an idea of how strong those monopolies are. Since sports betting is not yet legal in the state, Californians wanting to lay down some money on the NBA would have to cross state lines and place legal sports wagers in Arizona, Nevada, or Oregon, or cross the southern border to Mexico to do so.

Championship Odds

Every legal sportsbook in the United States posts NBA championship odds, and they are different across various betting apps. For example, the Lakers are currently +1200 to win the championship at DraftKings Sportsbook but +1100 on Caesars Sportsbook and +1300 on both FanDuel Sportsbook and BetMGM. 

Futures markets tend to fluctuate much more widely compared to more traditional betting lines such as totals or over/unders.

Regular Season Odds

During the regular season, most gamblers bet games lines: either the spread, total, or the moneyline. The spread is the amount of points that one team is favored by. So, for example, if the Lakers are playing the Rockets and the line is Lakers -8.5, the Lakers must win by 9 points or more to cover the spread. If Houston lost by less than 9, or won outright, Rockets bettors would cash their bet. The moneyline is simply a wager on which team will win. Totals are bets on whether the combined points scored by both teams will be over or under a predetermined number. 

Depth Chart & Lineups 

Every NBA team has a depth chart that fluctuates over the course of the season due to injuries, trades, performance, and other factors. No team is ever immune from injuries, and a depth chart will tell you who can step in at a particular position if someone gets hurt. 

Playoff Chances

Eight teams make the NBA playoffs from both the Eastern and Western Conference, and there is a play-in tournament involving the teams that finished seventh through 10th to determine the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds. Sportsbooks lists odds on every team's chances of making the playoffs. (IMPORTANT: The play-in tournament is NOT the playoffs).

Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James is the longest tenured player in the NBA. James is about to compete in his 21st season in total and his sixth with the Lakers. He has several new teammates after Los Angeles added Gave Vincent, Jaxson Hayes, and Christian Wood in the offseason, but this team's fortunes could depend on the health of Anthony Davis, who has not played more than 62 games during his four seasons in El Lay. (He has never played more than 75).

Los Angeles Lakers Championship Odds

The Lakers are opening the season at +1200 which gives them the fifth-shortest odds to win the title. The only teams with shorter odds are the Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics, and Phoenix Suns. The NBA's push to eliminate load management and have players and teams take the 82-game schedule more seriously is a noble pursuit, and if the Lakers stay healthy and have their stars for all 82 regular-season games they a contend with the defending champion Nuggets for the No. 1 seed in the West. Their offseason pickups of Vincent, Hayes, and Wood have made them a much deeper team.

Los Angeles Lakers Odds

Aside from the +1200 championship odds, the Lakers are +650 to win the West, +350 to win the Pacific Division, +225 to be a play-in team, and have an over/under of 47.5 regular season wins.

Los Angeles Lakers Depth Chart & Lineup

Vincent, who was with Miami last season, is the new backup point guard behind D'Angelo Russell and also can spell Austin Reaves at shooting guard. Taurean Prince and newcomer Cam Reddish are the backup small forwards behind James. Wood and Rui Hachimura are the backup power forwards behind Jarred Vanderbilt, and Hayes is the new backup at center behind Davis.

Los Angeles Lakers Playoff Chances

With the additions they have made, the Lakers should realistically compete with the Nuggets and the Suns for the No. 1 seed in the conference (the odds on that at DraftKings are +650). Davis said in October that he wants to play all 82 games, but history has shown that to be unlikely. The tick for the Lakers, as with all loaded teams who have older players, will being in top shape by the time the playoffs arrive in mid-April. As we saw from the Miami Heat last spring, seedings really do not matter if the team is properly locked in.

Golden State Warriors

They were not good enough to get past the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the playoffs last season, and they addressed that disappointing finish by acquiring Chris Paul from Washington after the Wizards had acquired him from Phoenix in the Bradley Beal trade. The presence of Paul, an 18-year veteran, makes an already dangerous team a better playoff team in theory, as Paul has competed in 149 of them in his career. Adding him to a core that includes shooters Steph Curry and Klay Thompson and capable forwards Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green makes them better.

Golden State Warriors Championship Odds

Here is the thing about the Western Conference: It is absolutely loaded. There are 14 teams that can realistically compete for the postseason, with the rebuilding San Antonio Spurs having zero chance. S just getting to the NBA Finals will be an extraordinary accomplishment, but then you will likely have to beat a Boston team or a Milwaukee team that added great players in the offseason. It is a simply enormous task for everyone, including the Warriors, who open the season at +1300. 

Golden State Warriors Odds

The Dubs are +700 to get the No. 1 seed, +650 to win the West, +360 to win the Pacific Division and have a win total set at 47.5. 

Golden State Warriors Depth Chart & Lineup

The depth chart remains a question mark because we do not yet know whether coach Steve Kerr will bring Chris Paul off the bench, which would be the first time he has been a regular reserve since high school. If we assume that he comes off the bench, the starting lineup will be the same as it was last year: Steph Curry and Klay Thompson at guard, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green at forward, and Kevon Looney at center. Gary Payton II can play either guard position or small forward, Moses Moody is a backup shooting guard, Jonathan Kuminga and newcomer Dario Saric are the primary backup forwards, and Usman Garuba is the backup center. It remains to be seen whether rookie Brandin Podziemski cracks the rotation.

Golden State Warriors Playoff Chances 

These guys are a mortal lock to make the playoffs. What they do once they get there remains to be seen. In the second round against the Lakers last season, they were heavy favorites but went down in six games, losing the finale by 21 points to end their streak of winning at least one road game in 28 consecutive series. That is why they traded for Paul, getting him for the relatively cheap price of Jordan Poole, Patrick Baldwin Jr. and draft picks. Again, the West is loaded, and there will be no easy outs in the playoffs. What Golden State has an edge over everyone in is experience.

Sacramento Kings

Last year was a breakout season for the Kings as Mike Brown won Coach of the Year and Sacramento led the NBA in scoring with an average of 120.7 points per game. But in the first round of the playoffs against Golden State, the team with more chemistry and experience won as the Kings went down in seven games, losing the series finale at home by 20 points.

Sacramento Kings Championship Odds

Sacramento is listed at +5500 to win the championship, which would be the first for the franchise since 1951 when they were known as the Rochester Royals. A 72-year title drought is extraordinary, and the Kings' is the longest in NBA history by five years (the Hawks haven't won in 67 years, the Suns in 55.) That being said, the +5500 odds are quite long for a team that finished third in the West last year and improved by 18 victories. It remains to be seen how much Vezenkov helps them, but adding the reigning EuroLeague Player of the Year is no small thing.

Sacramento Kings Odds

Sacramento is +2500 to win the West and a surprising +900 to repeat as Pacific Division champions. The Kings are +2500 to be the No. 1 seed (strange, since those are the same odds as making it to the finals) and have a win total of 44.5. 

Sacramento Kings Depth Chart & Lineup

The Sacramento Kings' depth chart includes reigning Clutch Player of the Year De'Aaron Fox at point guard, backed up by Davion Mitchell. At shooting guard, Kevin Huerter will be backed up by Malik Monk and newcomer Chris Duarte. Harrison Barnes returns at small forward with Keegan Murray at power forward, backed up by Vezenkov and Kessler Edwards. Domantas Sabonis at center will have veterans JaVale McGee and Alex Len behind him.

Sacramento Kings Playoff Chances 

When you are the reigning Pacific Division champions and have added Duarte, Vezenkov, and McGee without losing any main contributors, on paper you should be better than last season. But here's the thing, again: The West is loaded, and Sacramento has not won a playoff series since 2004. But all streaks eventually come to an end, and the sportsbooks put higher-than-usual odds on the Kings because they draw very little action. If you believe in them, they are priced nicely.

Los Angeles Clippers

We have to wait and see if James Harden gets his wish and ends up with the Clippers, who are his desired destination as he seeks a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers. For now, Russell Westbrook is the starter at point guard, and there are concerns whether he has much tread left on his tires. Also, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are the poster children for load management gone overboard, and both have and significant injuries during their careers. No team in the West is as dependent on staying healthy as the Clippers are. They are seeking to end a playoff series victory drought that has reached two years.

Los Angeles Clippers Odds

The Clippers have the sixth-shortest championship odds at +1300, with an over/under win total of 46.5. They are +1000 to in the West, +550 to win the Pacific Division, and +1100 to be the No. 1 seed.

Los Angeles Clippers Depth Chart & Lineup

As the entire NBA watched to see how the Harden situation would shake out, the Clippers came out of training camp in Hawaii with a depth chart that projects the starting five to be Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Nicolas Batum, and Ivica Zubac, which gives them a size advantage against pretty much everybody except Minnesota. The important backups are Terrence Mann and Bones Hyland at point guard, Norman Powell at the wing positions along with Kenyon Martin Jr. and Amir Coffey, Marcus Morris Sr. at power forward along with Robert Covington, and Mason Plumlee at center. Lots of experience there.

Los Angeles Clippers Playoff Chances

If they stay healthy, with or without Harden, they are pretty much a playoff lock. That is shown by the short odds we are seeing on them in all team categories. Matchups in the postseason will be the big key, and the Clippers are one of the few teams that can look at its preseason roster and say with confidence that there are no holes to fill or upgrades needed. They will make a trade if it is a no-brainer, but the most important person on the payroll is the team doctor.

Bet on the NBA In California

Car culture is a big thing in California, which is great for gamblers because they are going to have to cross state lines to gamble on sports for the foreseeable future. The 2022 election referendums were huge losses for the legal sports gambling companies, who have not been able to gain approval in three of the biggest states: California, Texas, and Florida. Another ballot measure will happen down the road in California, but for now "down the road" means a drive to Oregon, Arizona, or Nevada to place legal sports wagers.

California NBA Betting FAQs


Chris Sheridan is a veteran NBA writer who has been covering the league since 1992, with a specialty in international basketball after being credentialed for every Olympics since 1996 in Atlanta. He has been covering sports gambling since 2018.

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