The NBA season is still very young. It seems that this year, even more than most, has been very active and very educational, though. No matter how prepared you are heading into the season there will inevitably be surprises as the season gets underway. Here are six of the biggest NBA Betting surprises for me of this season so far:
I was expecting the Timberwolves to end up the season as a strong team, but at 6-1 ATS and 5-2 straight up they are far ahead of where I expected them to be right now. The reason for my low expectations is simple — their two best players are still wearing street clothes. Kevin Love is overcoming a hand injury that will have him out of action until next month, and Ricky Rubio should be over his knee injury and ready to play early in the new year. When those guys hit the lineup this team will only get better — especially in the case of Love. The problem is, though, that they have to find a way to maintain their competitiveness until the cavalry arrives, and that means they need to stay healthy. They just lost Chase Budinger to a knee injury, and he joins a collection of banged-up players including Brandon Roy, J.J Barea, Nikola Pekovic, and so on. They just can’t afford to keep getting hurt like that if they want to remain competitive.
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The Lakers aren’t an original choice, but they absolutely have to be on this list. I fully expected there to be some growing pains as they tried to mesh the new talent, but no one could have expected the drama that we have seen. In just a couple of weeks they’ve fired a coach, performed well for the interim, shocked the world with the replacement, lost two point guards, struggled mightily early on, and found yet another way to stay firmly in the public eye. My two biggest concerns at this point are the durability of Steve Nash, and the attitude of Kobe Bryant. Kobe has been a total baby so far this year, and he is by far the biggest reason the team has gone through what they have. He’s always been a diva, but he’s taking it to a whole new level. Combine that with the diva tendencies of Dwight Howard and the artist-formerly-known-as-Artest and you have a team that could really implode if they hit a rough spot.
New York Knicks
It’s early, but right now the Knicks have the second-best offense in the league and the best defense. Either one of those things would be a big surprise — especially with Stoudemire and Shumpert out of action. Having both occur at the same time definitely qualifies as a surprise. They have only played four games, so the sample size is very small. However, the schedule has been a good test — they have beaten Miami and Dallas, and they won both sides of a two-day, home-and-home with the Sixers. They have covered all four spreads as well.
The Raptors have been just plain lousy — far worse than I was hoping so far this year. Despite all of the issues with the team the one bright light has been DeRozan. He’s scoring more than 20 points a game, but what really stands out is how much he has matured and grown into himself as a player this year. He’s in his fourth year, and he really needed to grow up, so this start is very welcomed. He has turned into the leader of a team that desperately needs one. There is still room for him to improve, though. Most significantly, he has a horrible habit of shooting long two-pointers instead of either taking a step back for the bonus point or moving forward for a higher percentage shot. For the first time, though, I really feel like DeRozan can turn into a legitimate second-level star in this league. Of course, that means that he’ll wind up somewhere other than Toronto in the next few years — that seems to be the eternal fate of this organization.
I loved watching Vasquez in college at Maryland, but in his first two years he didn’t really settle in and shine. So far this year, though, he is playing very nice ball. He’s scoring better than he has, and he is fourth in the league in assists with 8.8 per game. With the exciting young talent around him, his performance could be sustainable. He’ll be something very fun to watch all year.
I think Westbrook is one of the most frustrating players in the league, so I shouldn’t be surprised that he is frustrating me mightily so far this year. For some reason, though, I thought that maybe he’d be different this season. After all, by trading Harden the Thunder made a big commitment to him. I don’t think that there is a player with less self awareness in the entire league. Despite playing beside the best player in the league, Westbrook insists on taking too many shots, and he’s missing too many of them. He’s just not very good, and I continue to be surprised that the Thunder put up with him when there are so many options in the league that could be at least as good.