Odds & Ins

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2017-2018 – NBA MVP – Odds to Win courtesy of Bovada Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada

 

Bovada Casino in Las Vegas released their “Super Early” odds on the players favored to win the NBA MVP Award. To no surprise,  the reigning League MVP – Russell Westbrook – and Finals MVP – Kevin Durant – top the list. Behind them in the top 5 are Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, and James Harden. The list from Bovada includes two surprise names and one glaring omission. The two surprises are Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers. Both players are young and talented but have yet to show much on the NBA level. Embiid was finally able to see some time on the court last season after missing two seasons due to injuries. While playing in 31 games, Embiid flashed potential that has Philly fans excited about the process. Ben Simmons was the #1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft out of LSU but never played a minute last season because of a broken right foot. At 66/1 for Embiid and 50/1 for Simmons an ambitious person could take a chance on one or both of them and be in for a nice pay day. The missing name that had a few fans going nuts was “Rudy Gobert” of the Utah Jazz. Gobert is the anchor in the middle for Utah. With Gordon Hayward’s departure during free agency this is now Rudy’s Team. He’ll need to step up his production on offense but his 1st Team All-Defensive selection and 2nd Team All-NBA selection show the type of player he is. According to basketball-reference.com Gobert was top 10 in eight of the NBA’s traditional statistical categories and top 10 in fifteen of the NBA’s advanced statistical categories. Any fan that follows the NBA closely knows that if Utah has success next season Rudy will be a legit MVP candidate.

It’s too early to be considering an MVP in the NBA but I’ll have a bit of fun.

Most likely to be the media favorite: Kevin Durant (Did you see the 2017 NBA Finals?)

Most likely to be the darling pick: Giannis Antetokounmpo “The Greek Freak” (The NBA media is always looking for the next young guy to ride. Right now it is Giannis)

Most likely to be slept on: Steph Curry (KD came to town and everyone forgot about Steph! With another ring under his belt, look for “The 2-time League MVP, Unanimous and first of his kind, Father of the disrespectful 3 point shot, from North Carolina” to unload and help those that are sleeping wake up.

Most likely to lose some votes: Russell Westbrook (The addition of Paul George will help Russell and OKC in a major way. Unfortunately for Russ that may cost him some MVP votes)

Most likely to gain some votes: James Harden (Yes I know Chris Paul joined the Rockets. That’s the main reason I feel Harden will gain some votes. Harden’s movement without the ball while allow him to be more efficient (scary huh?). Also don’t be surprised if you see Harden step up a bit on the defensive end.

The Odds I wouldn’t pass on: Gordon Hayward (The 70/1 odds on him is amazing and down right impossible to pass on. New team – in a bigger market – in the weaker Conference is just one of many reasons to consider wagering on Gordon. Some fans are skeptical but I expect big things from Boston’s new Small Forward.)

Lastly I leave you with a question. Would you wager $1,000 on one player or put different amounts on 3 or 4 players? I’m still contemplating on what I’d do.

 

Odds & Ins

Up Jumps Da Boogie

Once upon a time Timbabland and Magoo – with the help of a few friends – showed us how to party. On Sunday night after the NBA All-Star game had ended – in which Anthony Davis won MVP and set a new record for points scored (52) in the All-Star Game – Dell Demps (New Orleans Pelicans General Manager) and Alvin Gentry (Head Coach) did their own impression of Timb and Magoo. Demps was able to pull off a trade for big man DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins. I don’t care much to talk about the trade details because that’s been ran into the ground. What I will tell you is that I was definitely shocked by the move. When say “shocked” I mean I had to pause from playing FIFA 17 on PS4 and digest what was happening. I got a text of “congrats” and “wow” before I knew what had taken place. I’m still a bit shocked by the move BUT I’ll take a move for Boogie over Jahlil Okafor 10 times out of 10. The current landscape of sports has shown me that you have to strike while the iron is hot. I’m well aware of Boogie’s attitude and the stories of his time in Sacramento. Look all I know is that he’s likely to be on the Pelicans’ roster until the summer of 2018 (barring anything major happens before then).

The addition of Boogie means the Pelicans will see some needed space on the offensive end of the court. To take advantage of this open space the shooters will need to be ready. They haven’t been consistent thus far (and they weren’t last night) but hopefully that’ll change the remainder of this season. The tweets below from @NOLAJake show how bad the Pels were on uncontested shots versus the Rockets last night.

New Orleans is currently 2.5 games from the 8th spot in the West with 24 games to play. Before last night’s disaster I’d already put in my head that I’d take a record of 15-10 to end the season. If the Playoffs come with that then cool but I’m fine without it. *I’m well aware that the move for Cousins leads some to believe the team will reach the Playoffs. Davis and Cousins held down their end of the bargain last night against Houston combining for 56 points, 23 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals, and 6 blocks. So it’s clear that those two will be able to bring it. The team will need Jrue Holiday to find his way to help move the team forward.

Another key for New Orleans will be deciding what type of style they want to play. Under Alvin Gentry they’ve tried to play with a faster pace. That hasn’t worked well as they currently rank 27th in Offensive Rating according to http://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_2017_ratings.html. By contrast the Houston Rockets are 2nd. The Rockets have made it clear as to what they want to do on offense. The goal for Houston is to play at a fast pace, share the ball to get a great shot and ensure that said shot is either a layup, three pointer, or trip to the free throw line. The shot chart in the tweet below from @Rockets_Insider shows how well that game plan worked against New Orleans last night.

The Rockets attempted 51 three-pointers! And made 20 of them. While the Pelicans took 31 and made only SIX! This is the 2nd blowout victory for the Rockets over New Orleans this season and the two teams will play twice in March. It’ll be interesting to see how the Pelicans adjust the next time the teams play. Unfortunately the Pelicans will be without Omri Casspi – who came over from Sacramento with Boogie – due to a broken thumb. That won’t help a team that’s void of confident shooters.

In hoops news closer to home and near my heart…the City of Jackson’s basketball community lost legendary coach Orsmond Jordan. I’ll always remember Coach Jordan for his time at Murrah High School in the 1990s when I was learning about the game. Coach Jordan also came over and gave a pep talk before the 9th Grade JPS Championship Game when I played. He will be missed but his legacy in the history of High School Basketball will live on. Rest easy Coach Jordan.

http://mississippitoday.org/2017/02/19/basketball-pioneer-coach-orsmond-jordan-has-died-at-82/

Stats and info courtesy of:

http://stats.nba.com/

http://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_2017_ratings.html

 

Up Jumps Da Boogie

Thoroughly Unthorough NBA Preview Part 2

The NBA Season starts TODAY and I can’t wait! Shout out to Bart Scott. It promises to be another exciting season as we’ve had player move here and there. There’s been a lot of chirping from all over the League. We’ll get to see how it all plays out over the next 8 months. Today I’ll layout the moves made in the NBA’s Western Conference and share a few thoughts on each team. The teams are listed in the order in which they finished at the end of the 2015-2016 regular season. At the end I’ll list who I think the 8 playoff teams will be.

Golden State Warriors – Hard to imagine that the team with the best regular season record in NBA history, first ever unanimous MVP, and 3 All NBA performers would get better but they did. After blowing a 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals to Cleveland; the Warriors went and signed Kevin Durant. GSW also brought in Zaza Pachulia and David West. As expected Harrison Barnes left the team and Andrew Bogut was traded away. The Warriors are the favorites to win the championship. We’ll see if they can seal the deal this season.

San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs had an excellent season but got trounced in the playoffs by OKC. As a result we saw the retirement of legendary power Forward Tim Duncan. Boris Diaw was traded to Utah for a future 2nd round draft pick. The Spurs signed Pau Gasol as a replacement for Duncan. It’ll be interesting to see how Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge play together. They also signed David Lee. Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are back but look for Patty Mills to see his role increase. We’ll get to see if Kawhi Leonard can shoulder the load this season. Keep an eye on Aldridge to see if he remains happy in San Antonio.

Oklahoma City Thunder – You’d have to be very unfamiliar with the NBA to not know that they lost one of the best players in the current era. Kevin Durant got tired of Russell Westbrook and went to Golden State over the summer. Golden State knocked them out of the 2016 Playoffs. OKC blew a 3-1 series lead and the rest is history. Serge Ibaka was traded on Draft Day for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and Domantas Sabonis(11th pick of 2016 NBA Draft). Westbrook signed a contract extension but the Thunder will need to lock up big man Steven Adams too. The Thunder will fall in the West without KD…we’re just not sure how far.

Los Angeles Clippers – The Clippers were the 4th best team in the Western Conference but got bounced in the First Round by Portland after injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. The core of the Clippers roster is still the same. They still don’t have a small forward to rely on as Paul Pierce revealed that he’s finally retiring at season’s end. Doc Rivers gave new contracts to Wesley Johnson, Jamal Crawford, Luc Mbah a Moute and his son Austin. Mo Speights, Brandon Bass, and Raymond Felton joined the team via free agency. They drafted Brice Johnson – who will be out with a herniated disc in his lower back – and Diamond Stone. This is a make or break season for the Clippers. If they don’t reach the Western Conference Finals this season then it’s time for some players to move on.

Portland Trail Blazers – Portland had an unexpected run to the Playoffs after a slow start last season. Terry Stotts was able to get his squad to the 2nd Round before they bowed out to Golden State in 5 games. Dame Lillard leads the way sidekick C.J. McCollum. McCollum rode his Most Improved  Player Award – season to a new contract. Portland also resigned Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard and Allen Crabbe. Crabbe was given  a whopping 4 year – $75 million dollar deal. Evan Turner joined from Boston and Festus Ezeli from Golden State. Unfortunately Festus is out with a knee injury and his return is unknown. Expect a big season from Lillard as the Blazers will look to ride their successful wave.

Dallas Mavericks – Dallas had an average season that concluded by getting thumped by OKC in the Playoffs. Dirk Nowitzki got a 2 year – $50 Million dollar deal over the summer. Harrison Barnes signed with the team and Andrew Bogut joined via trade. The Mavs resigned Dwight Powell and Deron Williams too. Seth Curry and Quincy Acy were some under the radar signings. No clue what to expect in Dallas. On paper it doesn’t look exciting.

Memphis Grizzlies – After being torn apart by injuries last season the Grizzlies hope to have better luck. As it stands today, they’re off to a bad start with a list of players injured. New Head Coach David Fizdale will have his work cut out for him. Memphis gave Mike Conley a max deal over the summer and signed Chandler Parsons. Zach Randolph will come off the bench and seems to be OK with that idea. It’s hard out here for a pimp. Good luck Memphis.

Houston Rockets – Squeaked into the Playoffs after a season full of turmoil. They exited the Playoffs quickly. Dwight Howard is gone and the team hopes to have better chemistry. Mike D’Antoni takes over as coach and they want to get up and down the court. Free agency saw the addition of – two former New Orleans Pelicans – Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson. James Harden restructured his contract and hopes to get back to the level of play he displayed in the 2014-2015 season. Nene joined Houston and Michael Beasley was traded to Milwaukee for Tyler Ennis. Houston will score a lot but not sure how much they’ll defend.

Utah Jazz – Utah is an up and coming team that was close to making the Playoffs last season. The Jazz ended their season giving up 60 points to Kobe Bryant in his final game. In hopes of making the Playoffs, Utah brought in some veteran players via free agency and trades. They acquired Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw via free agency. Utah was able to bring in George Hill via a 3 – team trade. The Jazz will be without Alec Burks(knee) and Gordon Heyward(finger) to start the season. Derrick Favors, Rodney Hood, and Diaw are also battling injuries. Big man Rudy Gobert is poised for a breakout season and 2nd year player Trey Lyles is ready to show his vast skills. The Jazz will bring Dante Exum along slowly as he continues to recover from ACL injury.

Sacramento Kings – Boogie Cousins is excited about new head coach Dave Joerger who joins them after his time in Memphis. During a Draft Day trade the Kings picked up Bogdan Bogdanovic, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and a 2020 2nd round draft pick from Phoenix. They signed an array of wing players after trading away Marco Belinelli to Charlotte. Those players are Arron Afflalo, Anthony Tolliver, Matt Barnes, and Garrett Temple. The Kings also signed point guard Ty Lawson after Rajon Rondo left town. Rudy Gay and Ben McLemore are both looking to play their way out of Sacramento. The team’s management still leaves a lot to be desired. But many fans are hoping the new arena is a sign of new things to come.

 

Denver Nuggets – The Nuggets are another team that I’m not sure where they’re going. They have some young talented players – Will Barton, Gary Harris, and Emmanuel Mudiay – but do they have enough veterans to balance out the squad. Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari have battled injuries. Kenneth Faried has been rumored to be on the trade block but still remains in Denver. Rookie Jamal Murray will be looking to score buckets and get  teammates involved. The Nuggets will fall into a funk again this season and struggle to make progress.

New Orleans Pelicans – How many games will Anthony Davis play? Start there and you’ll get an idea of what kind of season the Pelicans will have. In his 4 year career, Davis has never played more than 68 games. That season marked career high statistics for AD and coincided with New Orleans making a playoff appearance. Jrue Holiday is out after his wife gave birth to their child before having brain surgery. Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon left the team via free agency but some new players arrived in return. The Pelicans drafted Buddy Hield and Cheick Diallo. The team acquired Solomon Hill, Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore, Terrence Jones, and Lance Stephenson in free agency. With Holiday out, Tim Frazier and Galloway will need to step up. And as I stated above, Anthony Davis needs to stay healthy and on the court if New Orleans wants to be in the Playoff race.

Minnesota Timberwolves – Minnesota jumped from “cool team to watch” to “cool team expected to make the Playoffs” when they hired Tom Thibodeau to be Head Coach. Thibodeau will have a team full of young players to choose from. Most notably the last two Rookie of the Year Award winners, Karl Anthony-Towns(2015-2016) and Andrew Wiggins(2014-2015). In the 1st round of the 2016 NBA Draft Minnesota selected Kris Dunn. Dunn was a prolific scorer in college but he’ll be expected to distribute more in the NBA. The Timberwolves also bring back Shabazz Muhammad, high flying Zach LaVine, and Ricky Rubio. Nikola Pekovic will be out all season due to an Achilles injury. That means Gorgui Dieng and Adrien Payne will have to step up. Minnesota brought in Brandon Rush, Cole Aldrich, and Jordan Hill over the summer. The Timberwolves will improve but not enough to make the Playoffs. They’re still missing a few veteran pieces.

 

Phoenix Suns – The valley of the sun was very hot last season after team chemistry and injuries caused things to go awry. Jeff Hornacek was replaced by Earl Watson. The Suns will lean on their guards to carry the load. They’ll need Eric Bledsoe to stay healthy after he only played 31 games last season. Brandon Knight had a decent season while he was healthy but that was for only 52 games. Devin Booker was the lone bright star for the team. Booker started in 51 of the 76 games he started in and posted 13.8 points/game, 2.6 assists/game, and 2.5 rebounds/game to earn a spot on the NBA Rookie 1st Team. T.J. Warren was solid last season and Alex Len showed flashes of what he can do. P.J. Tucker, Tyson Chandler, and Leandro Barbosa are all seasoned vets but that won’t be enough to move the Suns up in the West.

Los Angeles Lakers – Kobe is gone but the Lakers now have Luke Walton as Head Coach. The Lakers won’t win much but they’ll be fun to watch. Walton will have the team playing at a pace that suits the team. The team re-signed Jordan Clarkson and brought in Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, Metta World Peace, and Thomas Robinson via free agency. They drafted the skinny but talented Brandon Ingram 2nd overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. D’Angelo Russell should thrive the most in this new style of play. Julius Randle will see his role increase while Nick Young and Lou Williams will still be able to get up a decent number of shots each game. The Lakers will reach the 24.5 wins mark but that’s about it.

Western Conference Playoff Predictions (in order):

Golden State Warriors

Los Angeles Clippers

San Antonio Spurs

Portland Trail Blazers

Houston Rockets

Utah Jazz

Memphis Grizzlies

Oklahoma City Thunder

Close but no cigar: Sacramento, Dallas, New Orleans, and Minnesota

Rookie of the Year – Buddy Heild, New Orleans Pelicans

Most Improved – Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks

Defensive Player of the Year – Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

6th Man of the Year – Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors

Most Valuable Player – Paul George, Indiana Pacers

All stats, rosters, team transactions and more courtesy of http://www.basketball-reference.com/

Thoroughly Unthorough NBA Preview Part 2

NBA Update

We’re almost a month into the NBA season and the excitement is already building. We have the Golden State Warriors out here making sure no one makes excuses that anybody is injured. Today the Houston Rockets fired Kevin McHale – after starting the season 4-7 – and handed the team over to 36 year old interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. At the top of the Eastern Conference you’ll find the teams we all expected to see (Cleveland, Chicago, and Atlanta). Surprisingly the East has been quite competitive. It’s still very early so we could see things change up.

 

Surprises

The Detroit Pistons have been a nice surprise so far this season. The Pistons have gotten outstanding play from Andre Drummond (averaging 19.1 points/game and 18.9 reb/game) who has already posted three 20-20 games. He fell two rebounds short (25 points and 18 rebounds) last night after Detroit battled back to defeat Cleveland. Other key contributors include Reggie Jackson (leads team in scoring), Marcus Morris, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. In order to make a bigger they’ll need Ersan Illyasova and rookie Stanley Johnson to pick up their games with shooting guard Jodie Meeks out. Meeks is expected to be out 3 more months after having foot surgery. They’re also waiting for Brandon Jennings to return from his Achilles injury that occurred last season.

Three teams from the Western Conference have been a nice surprise – Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets, and Minnesota Timberwolves – to most NBA fans.   Each team is in the top 10 of the “too early to be reading” conference standings. According to Hollinger’s NBA Team Stats, each team is in the top 15 for PACE (number of possessions a team uses per game). This comes as no surprise due to the talented young players that each team has. Danilo Gallinari leads the Nuggets but is helped out by a number of players. Will Barton who came over from Portland is 2nd on the team in scoring. Rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay has shown flashes that he can run the show but he’ll need to cut down on his 4.5 turnovers/game if Denver wants to remain relevant in the West.

Phoenix is led by guards Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight who both are averaging 20 plus points and 5 assists through the team’s first 10 games. Markieff Morris seems to have gotten over his twin brother no longer being Phoenix and Tyson Chandler is providing a solid force on the defensive end.

Finally the Minnesota Timberwolves round out the surprising teams. 2nd year wing player Andrew Wiggins leads the team in scoring at 20.9 points/game. Four other Timberwolves are averaging double figures so far this season. One of those four is rookie big man Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns is averaging a double-double in points and rebounds. The youngster has been under the guidance of veteran power forward Kevin Garnett.

 

Disappointments

Three playoff teams from last season – New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets, and Milwaukee Bucks – pop up in this category so far in the early season. The common theme amongst the 3 teams is no effort or urgency, which has led to the trio being terrible defensively. All 3 teams are in the bottom of the league for Rebound Rate and Defensive Efficiency. The Pelicans have been hit by injuries but that’s still no excuse for the poor performances they’ve put out this season. The Pelicans are 1-10 at the moment and could end up 1-19 after the first 20 games!!

Houston’s trade for Ty Lawson isn’t going as planned. The Rockets haven’t seen the point guard look comfortable yet. His 5.8 assist/game average is well below his career numbers. James Harden’s need to have the basketball in his hands could be one of the problems but a change may be needed seeing how he’s averaging 4.8 turnovers/game. Dwight Howard has played in only 7 of the 11 games so far since he’s resting because of injuries. Remember Trevor Ariza’s 3-point shooting ability? The small forward is only shooting 31.5% from long range and a dismal 33.6% overall. For what is worth, James Harden is only shooting 37.2% overall and an ugly 26.2% on 9.4 attempts/game from 3-point range (luckily he seems to shoot 35 free throws every night). Terrible defense and poor shooting numbers as a team (42.3% FG and 29.0% 3-point FG) are a couple reasons why Kevin McHale is already “Gone Fishing”.

Milwaukee’s defensive struggles are most surprising because they were 2nd in Defensive Efficiency last season only behind the Golden State Warriors. They’re also last in PACE. Those factors along with what appears to be a stronger Eastern Conference and trying to mix in new players and guys returning from injury could continue to cause problems. But I expect the Bucks to turn things around as they’ve only played 11 games.

 

Quick Hits

How long before the triangle runs through Kristaps Porzingis and not Melo? Porzingis matched up very well against Anthony Davis on Sunday. AD dropped 36 but KP was able to bother him at times & moved well on both ends of the court. He’s constantly making an impact by blocking or altering shots. Once he finds his game offensively that will give Melo more room to operate.

On Twitter, the homie QB asked “Sixers win or GS lose…Which one happens first?” I went with GS loses first. Clippers will beat them Thursday. As for the Sixers, they play the Pacers tonight and then have a 6 game road trip. They’ll beat the Lakers on December 1st to get their first win.

I mentioned the New Orleans Pelicans injuries earlier and sadly, one of the players is Anthony Davis. So far in his young career AD has yet to play a full 82 game season. Last season he was able to play 72 total games – 68 in the regular season and 4 in the postseason – for the Pelicans.

STEPH CURRY…I think that’s all that is needed.

All stats via:

http://stats.nba.com/

http://espn.go.com/nba/statistics

http://espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/teamstats

NBA Update