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NBA Handicapping: Teams with Future Betting Value
by Trevor Whenham - 1/13/2012

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Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics

We’re about 10 games into the NBA season already. Thanks to the compacted schedule it seems like the season is just flying by.

When I look at the standings so far what stands out most is that there are some teams that have records that just don’t reflect the talent they have on the court. From a betting perspective these teams are a dream.

The public will take notice of their slow start and will discount them. If they do start to play better that means that there will be some nice value for astute NBA handicappers. Here are five teams that fit into this category in my eyes:

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Boston Celtics

The Celtics are just 4-5 to start the season, and they have lost their last two games. Coming into the season their chances for a title were the slimmest they have been since the Big 3 were brought together, but they still existed. While you obviously can’t rule them out yet they are not playing like champions so far.

The issues that were of concern coming into the season have come to light. Kevin Garnett looks old, Paul Pierce does as well, Jermaine O’Neal has underwhelmed, and depth has been an issue. While those are all serious issues there is still little doubt that this is a team that is solidly better than .500.

They have been a decent 5-4 ATS so far, so they haven’t been a complete disaster from a betting perspective. The longer they struggle early on, though, the more casual bettors will assume they are in trouble, and the more potential there will be for value if and when they start to play at least a little better.

Minnesota Timberwolves

It is too soon for this team to be taken seriously as a legitimate contender, but they are better than the 3-7 record they have posted so far. They are built around Kevin Love, and he is performing as well as you would expect from a guy on his way to a max contract.

The reason to be optimistic, though, is that outside of Love the other key parts on this roster have a whole lot of room to improve. Both Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams have shown flashes of brilliance, and both will only get better as they get comfortable and learn to understand their roles. Injuries have been an issue as well, and that has made it harder to get the ideal starting lineup on the court.

This team will flirt with .500 this year. They are 6-4 ATS, so they are already performing better than their record suggests, and I expect them to start to live up to their potential as the season goes on.

Golden State Warriors

This is a team that should be contending for the last playoff spot in the West. So far, though, they are just 3-7. It doesn’t take intense analysis to see the biggest issue — they have only had one starter that has started every game.

Stephen Curry is the driving force of the team, and he has really struggled with his health. When this team gets healthy they are going to be much more competitive. Hopefully by that time the public has already written them off so they’ll be able to deliver at the betting window.

New Jersey Nets

After striking out time and again for someone to play beside Deron Williams this team seems to be waiting for the day when Dwight Howard dons their jersey in Brooklyn. They don’t have the talent to be an elite team, but they should certainly be better than 2-9. Their winning percentage of .182 is less than half of what it should be by the end of the season.

At some point this team will get a boost when Robin Lopez, the leading scorer last year, returns to action. They’ll also get better when they quit pouting and start playing with the skill they have.

This won’t be a good team, but it will be a surprisingly competitive one, and that’s very handy for bettors. The casual betting public is very negative about this team right now, so a little improvement would start to pay off handsomely for bettors who can be more objective.

Memphis Grizzlies

After their playoff success last year the expectations were high this year. Those hopes took a serious hit when Zach Randolph went down with an MCL injury that will keep him out for two months. The team is still playing like they feel sorry for themselves.

If and when they can snap out of that funk they are going to be dangerous — at least compared to the 4-6 record they have posted so far.

The thing to remember with this team is that they already have experience playing without a big piece of the puzzle. Last year Rudy Gay was out for the playoffs and the team was more than capable of handling his absence. Randolph is a more important piece, but not irreplaceable. The team has depth, and they will be better.

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