NBA Betting: ATS Duds
by Trevor Whenham - 12/12/2008
In the NBA, teams aren't able to remain profitable for an extended period of time. We're only a quarter of the way through the season, and already there are only seven teams that are profitable, and two of those just barely qualify. That leaves 23 teams that would have cost loyal bettors money on the season. There are varying degrees of long-term failure, though. Some teams come close to breaking even, while others just put their backers' money in a pile and light it on fire. Here's a look at the five worst ATS teams in the NBA, how they earned that distinction, and whether there is hope for the future:
Toronto (8-12 ATS) - The Raptors came into the season with all sorts of hype and hope. Chris Bosh is an established superstar, they have an assortment of quietly impressive Europeans, and they got the inside presence they needed with the addition of Jermaine O'Neal. So far, things have not worked out well. At all. The team won their first three games, but then only won six of their next 18. O'Neal hasn't yet found his way. Bosh has been brilliant, and Jose Calderon is moving forward, but several others - Jamario Moon, Jason Kapono, Andrea Bargnani - haven't shown any progress.
The lack of chemistry and team play has not only been costly to bettors, but it also cost coach Sam Mitchell his job. He was replaced by assistant Jay Triano, the first Canadian born head coach in league history. Triano has only been at the helm for four games, but the team has covered two of their last three after failing to cover seven in a row. Unlike some of the teams in this group, the Raptors certainly have the talent to be better than they are. It will be interesting to watch to see if they can pull it off. History indicates that they might - the team was one of the few that has been profitable in two of the last three years, and they were the most profitable team in the league two seasons ago.
Memphis (9-13 ATS) - The Raptors may be underachieving, but the Grizzlies aren't. They just aren't very good. They may be at some point, but now they are just young and trying to find their way. They have just one current starter who has had more than one contract, and that's the much-maligned Darko Milicic. The bench isn't much more experienced. They have future stars on the roster in guys like O.J. Mayo, Marc Gasol, and maybe Mike Conley, but they don't have enough now to get the job done. All you really need to know about these guys is that they managed to lose at home to Oklahoma City. That's not easy to do. This team was lousy ATS (and straight up for that matter) last year, and expect more of the same for a while yet.
Philadelphia (8-13 ATS) - The Sixers share a division with the Raptors, and they also share the burden of failing to live up to big expectations. This was supposed to be a team on the rise. Elton Brand was in town, Andre Iguodala re-signed for the long term, and Thaddeus Young looked like he was about to burst into the big time. There has just been one problem - they haven't been playing well. At all. They have won just twice in their last nine games, and they needed overtime in one of those games. The wins were the only two games over that stretch that they covered as well. Young is having a decent year, but Brand, Iguodala, and point guard Andre Miller are all putting up numbers well below expectations. Something is going to have to change for this team soon before all is lost (if it isn't already). A trade or a coaching change can't be too far away. That might help kick this team into gear and make them a more attractive bet, but for now there is absolutely no reason to trust them.
L.A. Clippers (8-13 ATS) - The Clippers are the Clippers, so should we really be surprised that they are a disappointment? Baron Davis is a big upgrade at the point, but he's not a miracle worker, and he doesn't have a lot of help here. At 4-17 the team is certainly underachieving, but only to the extent that they are even worse than their incredibly low expectations. This is a loser franchise that is doing what they do best. They've won just twice in their last 10 games. A funny thing has happened recently, though - they are 7-4 ATS over their last 11 games. It's not like they are playing great basketball, so it seems as if the public is finally at the point where they would bet against the Clips at any price. That's good news for the sportsbooks, and it could be good for bettors too if it keeps up.
Minnesota (8-13 ATS) - The Timberwolves have the same 4-17 record as the Clippers. They aren't underachieving nearly as much as the Clippers to get there, though. This is a team with a stunning lack of talent. Al Jefferson is really the only guy on the roster who can be called a star now. The rest of them are either journeymen or young guys with uncertain upside. This team has actually gotten worse as things went along - they were 6-6 ATS in their first 12. Over the long term there is no reason to think that this team is going to be worth regular bets. They could be worth a look in the short term, though - they have covered both of their games since Randy Wittman was mercifully fired and Kevin McHale took over.