A 500-1 long shot to start the season, the New York Knicks have emerged as the best bet in basketball and are covering the spread at a historic rate -- although that hasn't meant a surge in bets on them winning a title.
Entering Friday's game at the Phoenix Suns, the Knicks have covered the spread in 65.1% of their games (43-23 ATS). In the past 30 seasons, only the 2011-12 San Antonio Spurs (67.2%) and 2009-10 Milwaukee Bucks (65.9%) have a better winning percentage against the spread over a regular season, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
The Knicks began the season tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons with the longest championship odds, 500-1, at Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. New York's opening season-win total of 22.5 was tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the lowest in the NBA. The Knicks (37-29, fourth in Eastern Conference) have exceeded those expectations, but bettors aren't sold.
Jeff Sherman, vice president of risk management at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, said Wednesday that his shop hadn't taken a bet on the Knicks to win the title in over a week. The Knicks haven't been garnering much respect from bettors on a night-by-night basis either, Sherman said.
"They still get faded a lot," Sherman said. "People just aren't buying into it, even though they have such a strong record and they're on an incredible run against the spread."
Since April 3, the Knicks are 15-2 against the spread.
Typically at this point of the NBA season, the Knicks are out of contention and their championship odds have grown so long that sportsbooks remove them from the betting options. According SportsOddsHistory.com, the Knicks have been off the board at some sportsbooks by April in each of the past six seasons.
New York is currently 80-1 to win the NBA title and 40-1 to win the Eastern Conference at Caesars Sportsbook. Over the past month, more bets have been placed on the Knicks to win the Eastern Conference than any other team at Caesars Sportsbook.
FanDuel said the Knicks are currently the book's "biggest liability in the NBA championship outright market, taking the crown from the 76ers who have been the leader for most of the season."
At other sportsbooks, though, including those on the East Coast, the Knicks aren't receiving significant support from bettors. Since April 1 at DraftKings sportsbook in New Jersey, there have been five times as many title bets on the Brooklyn Nets as there have been on the Knicks.
ESPN Stats and Information researcher Mackenzie Kraemer contributed to this report.