Chris Bernucca’s Postseason Award Choices

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Image.AdamSilverTransparency is a two-way street.

For years, NBA media members – echoing the sentiments of its passionate fan base – wanted more transparency from Commissioner David Stern and his executive staff. Whether it was a lottery drawing, a suspension in the playoffs or a referee scandal, folks felt like they were entitled to an explanation. And they were.

Stern grudgingly came around. He arranged for the media to meet with referees prior to the season about rules changes. He allowed the media into the lottery drawing. He okayed press releases that admitted, Yes, we blew that call.

Since replacing Stern as commissioner less than three months ago, Adam Silver has taken the NBA’s transparency up a notch. He declared that there will be an open dialogue about officiating and is walking the walk by making internal memos available to the media.

But Silver is getting something back, too. At All-Star Weekend this year, the media presented the notion of transparency with regard to how its members vote on postseason awards, and the commissioner bought in. 

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Tweet of the Night: Damian Lillard Among Many To Remember The Ultimate Warrior

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James Hellwig, known as the Ultimate Warrior, seen at the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

James Hellwig, known as the Ultimate Warrior, seen at the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

This past weekend was a momentous one for any who would call themselves professional wrestling fans.

WrestleMania XXX, a week-long extravaganza often considered the Super Bowl of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), occurred Sunday evening, opposite the premiere of Game of Thrones fourth season and a slew of NBA basketball games.

Among the highlights of the weekend, Saturday night featured the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The star of the night, 1980s superstar, the Ultimate Warrior.

Warrior, whose real name was James Brian Hellwig at birth, was introduced by Linda McMahon, wife of WWE CEO Vince McMahon. He gave a rousing, uninterrupted 40-minute induction speech Saturday night after having been absent from the company for over 18 years.

Three nights later, the news that no one would want to hear came across the internet screen:  ”Ultimate Warrior passes away.

Warrior was only 54 years old. He is survived by his wife Dana and their two daughters.

Among NBA circles, the news hit Portland Trail Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard as well as Phoenix Suns Digital VP and huge WWE fan Jeramie McPeek.

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Scotto: Durant Atop MVP Discussion with Historic January

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BROOKLYN – Kevin Durant treated the league like a game of NBA 2K14 on a nightly basis in January. Kevin Durant

Durant is a 7-footer with the handle of a guard, the shooting ability of a sniper, the leaping ability of a kangaroo and the rebounding ability of a power forward.

Basically, he’s the player we all created from scratch in a video game as kids with the ratings boosted as high as possible.

Recently, Durant added “Slim Reaper” to his list of nicknames along with “KD” and “Durantula.”

It’s now time for a more appropriate nickname for Durant: “MVP.”

Bernucca: Handing Out Our Midseason Awards

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Martin Luther King Day is more than  a day of celebration and reflection for the NBA, which probably has done MLKmore positive things for race relations than any other sport in the Civil Rights Era.

It also has become the unofficial midway point of the season. By the completion of Monday’s action, more than half of the league’s 30 teams will have played half their games.

With that in mind, we present our midseason awards with this reminder from the bookie of hopeless degenerate James Caan in the grossly underrated 1974 film The Gambler: They don’t give out no prizes at halftime.

However, with our midseason awards, we do give out snarky remarks.

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NBA Proposition Bets: A Different Angle

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moneyintrashIn 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


Victor Oladipo 4/1
Trey Burke 5/1
Kelly Olynyk 5/1
Cody Zeller 7/1
Ben McLemore 7/1
C.J. McCollum 8/1
Michael Carter-Williams 8/1
Otto Porter 10/1
Anthony Bennett 14/1
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 20/1
Shabazz Muhammad 20/1
Alex Len 25/1
Tim Hardaway Jr 28/1
Nerlens Noel 29/1
Shane Larkin 33/1
Sergay Karasev 33/1
Dennis Shroeder 33/1

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


Kevin Durant 1.2/1
Carmelo Anthony 3.15/1
LeBron James 3.5/1
Field (Any Other Player) 8/1
Kobe Bryant 8.25/1
Stephen Curry 14/1
Derrick Rose 15/1
James Harden 16/1
Kevin Love 25/1
Damian Lillard 35/1
Monta Ellis 40/1
Dwayne Wade 50/1
Dirk Nowitzki 50/1
Deron Williams 50/1
LaMarcus Aldridge 50/1
Brook Lopez 50/1
Blake Griffin 50/1
Dwight Howard 50/1
DeMar DeRozan 60/1
Paul Pierce 60/1

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


LeBron James 1.4/1
Kevin Durant 3.5/1
Carmelo Anthony 8.5/1
Derrick Rose 9/1
Chris Paul 11/1
James Harden 16/1
Russell Westbrook 25/1
Kobe Bryant 25/1
Tony Parker 30/1
Dwight Howard 30/1
Kyrie Irving 30/1
Stephen Curry 30/1
Blake Griffin 30/1
Paul George 35/1
Tim Duncan 45/1
Kevin Love 45/1
John Wall 50/1
Deron Williams 55/1
Dirk Nowitzki 60/1
Rajon Rondo 65/1
Dwayne Wade 75/1
Ty Lawson 100/1
Andre Iguodala 100/1
Brandon Jennings 125/1
Kemba Walker 125/1
Monta Ellis 125/1
David Lee 125/1
Pau Gasol 125/1
LaMarcus Aldridge 125/1
Roy Hibbert 125/1
Anthony Davis 125/1
Josh Smith 125/1

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


Chris Paul 1.5/1
Deron Williams 3/1
Rajon Rondo 3/1
Ricky Rubio 7.5/1
Derrick Rose 8.5/1
John Wall 9/1
Steve Nash 16/1
Jeff Teague 25/1
Tony Parker 25/1
Jose Calderon 30/1
Brandon Jennings 55/1

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


Dwight Howard 1/1
Kevin Love 1.5/1
Field (Any Other Player) 6/1
Nikola Vucevic 9.5/1
Anderson Varejao 16/1
Tyson Chandler 18/1
Joakim Noah 20/1
Zach Randolph 20/1
DeMarcus Cousins 20/1
Anthony Davis 25/1
Omer Asik 30/1
Al Horford 30/1
Blake Griffin 35/1
Reggie Evans 35/1
Andrew Bynum 35/1
David Lee 40/1
Tim Duncan 55/1

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..