The standings are always a little wonky at this point. Some contenders get off to slow starts, some pretenders look like world-beaters.
In the past few weeks I have written columns on the NBA futures market (to win the championship) and over/unders on regular season win totals, which is always something that intrigues not only bettors, but fans, too, because it gives them a barometer for how their team may perform in the upcoming season.
The last item on the menu before the regular season starts next week is some of the more exotic proposition bets on the NBA betting menu which get some of the NBA “geeks” all giddy before they tip off the season.
To be clear, the sports books in Las Vegas really do not delve into proposition bets very much; they stick to the NBA futures market, regular season win totals and sometimes a prop here or there on the regular season MVP.
So many of the bets I am about to focus on are found offshore, and definitely make for some interesting discussion points.
Rookie Of The Year
|Tim Hardaway Jr||28/1|
Since 1985, when the New York Knicks drafted Patrick Ewing No. 1 overall, 13 overall No. 1 picks have won the Rookie Of The Year award.
A player drafted outside of the top 10 has not won the Rookie Of The Year award since 1987 when Mark Jackson won the award being drafted 18th overall. Granted, the first overall pick this year was a surprise to everyone involved, but having Anthony Bennett as 14/1 to win the award is a bit interesting.
I think the favorites to win the award are most likely Victor Oladipo and his Hoosier teammate Cody Zeller. The obvious sucker-bet in this group is Nerlens Noel, who might miss the entire season with an injury. The Rookie Of The Year award is really hit or miss on whether that player will become a star or prime time player in the league:
Since 2000, the winners have included Mike Miller, Pau Gasol, Amare Stoudemire, LeBron James, Emeka Okafor, Chris Paul, Brandon Roy, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, Blake Griffin, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard.
Regular Season Scoring Leaders
|Field (Any Other Player)||8/1|
Since 2005, only five different players have won this title, which shows the situation the player is in is just as important as that player’s ability to score.
Kobe Bryant has won it twice, LeBron James once, Dwayne Wade once, Kevin Durant three times and most recently Carmelo Anthony.
This is not a recent trend, since 1994 only nine different players have won this award, so thinking a new player will be added to this list is usually not the smart way to bet. If you ask me, a player like Dwayne Wade has no chance to win this award, so you can take him off the list. I can even go so far to say LeBron and Kobe do not have a great chance based on a few different factors. Kobe’s health is a negative and so are LeBron’s assists.
The positive for Kobe is the fact that his teammates are going to look to him very often this year if and when he enters the lineup. The positive for LeBron is Wade’s health and the fact James will be needed to score more than ever this year.
With Russell Westbrook hurt, Kevin Durant and then Carmelo Anthony have to be the favorites this year with the dark horse being James Harden if you ask me.
NBA Regular Season MVP
The question here is pretty simple…can anyone win this award but LeBron James? James has won it four of the past five years, with Derrick Rose being the only player other than James to win the award since 2007 when Kobe Bryant won it.
Only four NBA players are listed below 10/1 to win this award, and it is that way for a reason, this is not baseball, a team must be very good for a player to win this award — and that is why the best players on the Knicks, Thunder, Heat and Bulls are on the top of this list. If you are looking for a dark horse to win the award, here are a few players I would possibly look at: Chris Paul, James Harden, Stephen Curry and a long-shot in Monta Ellis. (I’d drop a couple bucks on Kyrie at 30/1-CS)
Regular Season Assists Per Game
Like many of the other awards, since 1998, only five players have won this award: Jason Kidd, Andre Miller, Steve Nash, Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo. I truly believe there is no dark horse for this award, I would be truly surprised if someone other than Rondo, Paul or Deron Williams won the award. I do not have long term faith in Rubio to win it, Rose and Wall will need to score too much and Nash simply does not have it to contend with his roster and age.
Regular Season Rebounds Per Game
|Field (Any Other Player)||6/1|
Since 2003, three players have won this award: Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard and Kevin Love. Out of all the other awards, it is the first time one player is listed at even money to win — Dwight Howard to have the most rebounds. If you want to talk about a dark horse for the award, I would go with a few different players to take a chance on: Tyson Chandler and DeMarcus Cousins. Chandler I believe has a chance because Andrea Bargnani simply does not rebound and Chandler will be able to gobble up a ton this year and Cousins, if motivated in the right areas, could legitimately be a contender here, but those character concerns are what make him 20/1.
Team vs Team NBA Regular Season Wins
Here are a few examples of team vs. team regular season totals, compared to other teams’ win totals, wins for the higher echelon teams across the league:
Clippers (-105) -4.5 over Nets (-125)
Bulls (-115) -3 over Rockets (-115)
Bulls (+100) -3.5 over Thunder (-130)
Pacers (-115) -2 over Warriors (-115)
Heat (-115) -6 over Rockets (-115)
Heat (-115) -8.5 over Thunder (-115)
Lakers (+120) -9.5 over Celtics (-150)
Rockets (-115) -2 over Nets (-115)
Nets (-115) -2.5 over Warriors (-115)
A few props that stand out to me…the fact that the Lakers are 9.5 wins ahead of anyone is very surprising, but the Celtics are supposed to be in the bottom five teams in the league in wins this year and if Danny Ainge decides to deal Rondo, they could easily fall in the bottom three. The Lakers do not look much better themselves and could end up trading Pau Gasol at some point this year, which makes that wager a complete toss-up based on who blows it up first. I think the Bulls over the Thunder is a very sneaky wager based on the fact of how deep Chicago is and how thin Oklahoma City is this year, especially with the injury to Westbrook and the loss of Kevin Martin.
Evan Abrams writes about basketball gambling for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter @Betropolitan..
SH Blog: Kobe admits public doubt gets to him at times, Wojnarowski says LeBron likely chooses between Heat and Cavs
Remember when ESPN ranked Kobe Bryant as the 25th best player in the league?
It sounds ridiculous, but what people didn’t realize was that the ranks had nothing to do with what the players did last season or in previous years. Rather, it was a projection of what the players may do in the upcoming season, with all things considered. In Bryant’s case, it was easy for analysts to bring down the expectations due to the unpredictability of his recovery from Achilles heel surgery in the offseason.
If you look at Bryant’s twitter avatar, it’s clear that he has seen the ranks, but we haven’t heard how he really felt about it. Until now, that is.
STORY OF THE DAY:
Bryant talked about the tension he had with Dwight Howard last season, where ESPN ranked him for the upcoming season and how public criticism can get to him at times, from Mike Bresnahan of Los Angeles Times:
“Dallas, mainly because of Dirk Nowitzki,” Webber said. “He’ll be back healthy. What he does, with spacing, getting guys involved … We take his game for granted.”
“I would go with the Pelicans,” Anthony said. “I think that’s a team that could make sizeable leaps and surprise a lot of people.”
Both those teams are certainly among the half-dozen in the hunt for what appears to be two postseason spots up for grabs in the West. Those spots belonged to the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets, who also remain in the running despite taking some backward steps in the offseason.
Without getting into seeding specifics, the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets look like mortal locks to be playing in May.