When it comes to attracting NBA free agents in Texas, No. 1 overall picks and a team full of high first-round picks don’t make for the most enticing team for prospective free agents.
It would appear the Dallas Mavericks, who just made their highest pick since 2018, rate as the most attractive landing spot in Texas according to research by BetTexas.com. That’s despite the San Antonio Spurs landing the No. 1 overall pick in Victor Wembanyama, and the Houston Rockets picking fourth, third and second overall in the past three drafts with seven total first-round picks in those drafts.
With NBA Free Agency under way, BetTexas.com compiled a system to determine the most desirable destinations within the league using a series of metrics.
We compiled data on state tax burdens (data from WalletHub), media market ranking (data from USTVDB.com, via Nielsen’s 2022-2023 DMA rankings), city popularity (World'sBestCities.com, via Resonance Consultancy), as well as attendance rankings since the 2018-19 season (ESPN.com), winning percentage since the 2019-20 season (Basketball-Reference.com) and 2024 NBA Championship Odds (SportsOddsHistory.com) to construct an aggregate ranking.
Toronto was not included on the list as we utilized U.S. data only. We did not include attendance data from the 2020-21 NBA season, as COVID protocols varied across the league. For Washington D.C.’s state tax income, we utilized data from nearby Virginia. The 2024 NBA Championship odds are up to date as of July 5.
Unfortunately, fans in the state have no Texas sportsbooks with which to wager on their favorite teams.
Most Desirable NBA Cities
Although there are no Texas betting apps, national sites list defending champion Denver as the favorite to repeat at +475 odds. Boston is second at +500.
Dallas ranks best in Texas
The home of Luka Doncic comes in as the sixth-best landing spot in the NBA, ranking behind the 76ers, Heat, Celtics, Lakers and Clippers in the total aggregate score. Dallas has the No. 9 city score, coming in one spot behind Houston, but it beats out the Rockets thanks to its No. 8 team score.
The Rockets were dragged down by having the lowest team score among the three Texas teams at No. 24. The Spurs were low in both city and team rankings at No. 21 and No. 20, respectively. San Antonio just doesn’t rate as high on the city numbers as Houston and Dallas.
The Mavericks are trying to build around Doncic and Kyrie Irving, now that the former Cavaliers, Celtics and Nets guard has decided to stay in Dallas after playing 20 games following a midseason trade. The Mavericks didn’t make the playoffs with the pairing, but hopes are high that a full season together will bring greater success.
That helped Dallas agree to a four-year contract with power forward Grant Williams for $53 million as part of a sign-and-trade that involved the Celtics and Spurs. That’s the biggest signing so far for the Mavericks, who’ve also added Dante Exum and Seth Curry while also re-signing Dwight Powell.
Not making the playoffs also allowed Dallas to have the No. 10 overall pick, which it used to select shooting guard Cason Wallace out of Kentucky.
There is no BetMGM Sportsbook Texas, but nationally the operator ranks Dallas 10th in NBA title odds at +2000. The Rockets and Spurs are both +25000.
The Rockets added small forward Amen Thompson at No. 4 overall, so he joins 2022 No. 3 overall pick in power forward Jabari Smith Jr. and 2021 No. 2 overall pick in shooting guard Jalen Green.
That youth still has a long way to go, but Houston made a free-agent splash with small forward Dillon Brooks from Memphis and shooting guard Fred VanVleet from Toronto. They give the young team veteran leadership for new coach Ime Udoka to try to build a winning atmosphere after three straight years as one of the worst teams in the NBA.
The Spurs drafted Wembanyama, but they haven’t been able to attract any big names so far in free agency to join what many consider to be the best draft prospect since LeBron James in the 2003 draft. It would seem the league wants to see what the Spurs’ newest No. 1 overall pick can do before seeking to team up with the 7-foot-3 Frenchman.