Around the NBA in 24 Seconds
by Robert Ferringo and Nolan Sinclair - 11/12/2008
The first couple of weeks are in the books in the NBA and I can say that while there have been some interesting storylines; there isn't anything that I've seen to this point that is altogether stunning. Well, that is other than the fact that the quality of play has been much, much worse than I was expecting.
It isn't stunning that the NBA players have gotten off to kind of a slow start. A lot of the major players spent their summer choking on the smog of China, while the rest were busy smoking weed, assaulting their wives and girlfriends, playing in the occasional no-defense summer league, and basically just kicking it. But to say that I'm surprised at how poorly teams in the West have performed and how woefully low-scoring games in the Eastern Conference have been would be an understatement.
Teams in the Eastern Conference are a combined 43-64 against the total to this point in the season. That's a 60-percent 'under' clip and is basically like they are giving away money. But if you take away the contributions from the Central, the teams in the Atlantic and Southeast divisions are a stunningly bad 20-45 against the total, good for a 70-percent 'under' rate. The oddsmakers will start to adjust and we're going to see some ridiculously low totals on these teams. But to this point it has been rough to watch.
In the West, there has been Utah and the Los Angeles Lakers and then everyone else. The Jazz and Lakers have been wrecking people - and the Jazz hasn't played one game with its full roster - and are a combined 9-3 ATS. But beyond that West has been home to some of the league's biggest disappointments.
The Southwest Division was supposed to be the cradle of hoops greatness this year, with four potential title teams rocking out of the Gulf of Mexico corridor. But New Orleans, even at 4-2 straight-up, has been somewhat of a bust. Houston has been its normally schizoid self (incredible at home, easily beatable on the road). Dallas is just a disaster and San Antonio has been torn up by injuries. In fact, the best of the bunch has been dreadful Memphis. They are a respectable 3-5 SU and a solid 5-3 ATS at the window. The other four clubs are a combined 7-18-1 ATS, and that's a 72-percent bet-against success rate.
The 24-second shot clock has hit zero on the first two weeks of the season. Here's what else I noticed while the time was ticking down:
24. What in the world are the San Antonio Spurs going to do now that Tony Parker has joined Manu Ginobili on the bench wearing only the finest of French suits? Tim Duncan now gets to rely on Roger Mason Jr. as his sidekick. Yikes. However, if there is any coach I trust to get the Spurs through this it's Pop. And now that means that Timmy is going to get about 180 touches per game, which is never really a bad thing.
23. Golden State's most successful lineup seems to be when they "go big" and put Steven Jackson at the point. I've seen at least three games where they get down early, go to the big lineup, make a furious comeback, go conventional again, and end up losing. Jackson's head should explode any minute now.
22. I know they tripped up in New York, but the Utah Jazz have been winning and winning big without Deron Williams. Naturally, once he gets back on the court (a 13-point win at Philly) they lose Mehmet Okur. They are going to be scary when they all get on the same page.
21. I thought it then and I think it now - Denver clearly got the better end of the Iverson-Billups deal. I'm not a big fan of shoot-first point guards and I'm definitely not a fan of change just for change's sake. That's what it seemed like from the Detroit perspective - change, "just because" - and they added chaos on offense to a team that was used to cool efficiency on that end. Detroit was No. 3 in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio when they got Iverson (1.88-to-1). Let's see where they are in three months.
20. If I were San Antonio, I would have signed Antonio McDyess yesterday. That guy still has plenty left in the tank and will be a great pickup for some contender.
19. Home teams had been the ticket for the first few games of the season (and they started 53-33 SU on the season), but I think the oddsmakers are swinging back the opposite direction. Monday and Tuesday of this week the road teams went an astounding 12-1 ATS.
18. Wasn't Jermaine O'Neal supposed to help the Raptors? Their offense looks completely out of synch when he is in the game. Sam Mitchell needs to start Bargnani in place of O'Neal until he can get comfortable.
17. Are the Rockets going to be any good? I just can't tell from watching them, but I think their bench kind of scares me.
16. Speaking of terrible benches: that right there is the single-biggest reason that the New Orleans Hornets have been such a bust this year.
15. Actual quote from Steph Marbury: "I think I'm going to start practicing with my high school team. Seriously. I've already called the coach to see if I can run up and down with the guys and at the same time help teach the younger guys the NBA game." Yeah, that is who I want teaching the game. He seems like a swell enough cat, but I can't stand watching him play and I don't like his attitude on the court. So no, I really don't feel that bad for him.
13. While we're on the subject of the Knicks, if anyone thinks that this is going to be any less of a roller coaster year they are mistaken. I can see New York ripping off nine or 10 in a row at one point - followed by seven or eight straight losses immediately after. The good news is that they are improving. The even better news is that square bettors are way to quick to jump back on the bandwagon and that means we can find great money line underdog value betting against them.
12. Kevin Martin - really the only player that the Kings have - is going to be out for a week. The initial reaction is to play against Sacramento without its top gun, but that would be wrong. The oddsmakers always over-adjust the lines for key injuries and this actually might be the best time of the season to bet on them. By the way, who would have thought that Sac Town would have more wins at this, or any, point of the season than San Antonio and Dallas?
11. To this point in the year I don't think we've seen the Olympics play a huge role in player performance. That is, the idea that guys that played in China over the summer would be a little slow and languid to start the year. However, I really think it's going to start kicking in around the All-Star Break.
10. I have to say that I'm not really impressed with the Comcast NBA League Pass. Of course, it is Comcast so I don't know why I would expect anything better than second-rate. The picture quality is terrible and you would think for $169 that a brother could get some HD.
9. Chris Anderson! Enough said…sorry, not enough said. Have you seen the tattoos on this guy? It looks like a kindergarten class took some acid and started drawing on him with magic markers
8. I am so glad that Oklahoma City is 1-6. Karma is a bitch. Long live the Supersonics! However, they are 5-2 ATS and while I kind of feel like I'm cheating on my wife when I bet on them, I just can't control myself.
7. How is it that Dominique Wilkins is the VP of Hawks basketball and still gets to be the color guy during the broadcasts? He was great to listen to during the Hawks-Raptors game last Friday night. A Hawks player would get fouled and he would start saying how TERRIBLE a call it was. It was similar to the way I would call a Syracuse basketball game after about 20 beers.
6. Rumor Mill is telling me that the Knicks are trying to trade Eddy Curry for Al Harrington. A third team would have to be involved, but Donnie Walsh is trying to get it done. I don't really see where Harrington would fit in, schematically, with what Mike D'Antoni is trying to do. Oh, wait; he has a questionable attitude and work ethic. There it is.
5. The L.A. Lakers are just destroying teams. But let's settle down on the 75-win talk, shall we? The West is a much bigger mess than we thought it would be coming into the season, and with exception of a couple bad teams being better than I thought there really hasn't been much great basketball played to this point. Things are going to tighten up, injuries (no way Kobe plays 82) will creep in, and I think the Lake Show will slow down. Especially at the window.
4. Hats off to Larry Brown. Charlotte is just 2-5 but they have been very competitive. Especially at home. But the key stat that I see that tells me that Brown is getting through to his players and getting them to buy into his system is that they are 1-6 against the total this year and are an 'under' machine. That tells me they are focused on the defensive end.
3. Do yourself a favor and watch a Chicago Bulls game just to smell the Rose - that's Derrick Rose. The kid is the real deal. It's just too bad the rest of the roster is a hodgepodge of journeyman and unathletic messes.
2. I was reading an NBA fantasy magazine before the season started and the writer was trying to persuade me into believing the Hawks would be one of the worst teams in the East this season. After I read the article I heard a whoosh sound, I looked up and saw Josh Smith jumping over my house. I knew right then that the Hawks would be better than expected. And they have been this good without their No. 3 option.
1. Can't wait to hit you back next week!