How Will NBA Best and Worst ATS Fare This Season?
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 10/30/2008
Will the top five moneymakers from 2007-08 in the NBA continue to produce this year and will the team's that struggled at the pay window last season have better luck against the number this season? Here is a look at the top five teams from last season against the spread and the worst five teams ATS.
The Best ATS
No. 1 - Boston Celtics - 52-28-2 ATS (66-16 SU)
The Boston Celtics raised a championship banner Tuesday night before their game against Cleveland but now many are raising expectations even higher for the Celtics after last season's unbelievable 66-win performance. P.J. Brown and James Posey, two key role players for the Celtics last season, are gone with no key replacement brought in. The Big Three are back (Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett) along with point guard Rajon Rondo fresh off a breakout season last year but the Celtics will be hard pressed to produce ATS that well again. Look for the Celtics to add a big acquisition as the trade deadline approaches much like they did when they brought Sam Cassell on board last year.
No. 2 - Orlando Magic - 50-29-3 ATS (52-30 SU)
The Magic continue to be on the outside looking in of the East's big three--Boston, Cleveland and Detroit--but Orlando rewarded their backers last year with an incredible ATS performance. Many are saying this might be the year that Orlando breaks into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference and that may hurt the Magic in the long run in terms of betting. Teams are now aware of Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard, a premier point guard/center duo and the oddsmakers are too. The Magic should face some steep numbers against the cellar dwellers in the East. Shooting guard Mickael Pietrus, brought over from Golden State, will have an immediate impact for the Magic. Orlando averaged 104.5 points per game last season, sixth best in the NBA.
No. 3 - New Orleans Hornets - 50-30-2 ATS (56-26 SU)
Everyone kept waiting for the Hornets to collapse down the stretch but it never happened. They made a memorable run in the postseason and have added a player with some postseason experience of his own. James Posey, who captured NBA titles with the Heat and Celtics in the last three years, joins the Hornets as a sixth man. Chris Paul, perhaps the best point guard in the NBA, headlines a starting five along with big men David West and Tyson Chandler. Peja Stojakovic is still lethal beyond the arc but it was the defense last year that New Orleans relied on. They allowed an average of 95.6 points per game, fifth best in the NBA. Despite last season's performance and this year's addition, many in the West continue to overlook the Hornets in favor of the Lakers, Spurs, Jazz and Rockets. They should be able to retain value throughout the season.
No. 4 - L.A. Lakers - 47-33-1 ATS (57-25 SU)
Even for the Lakers, these expectations may be too much. After an NBA Finals appearance last year, the Lakers return almost entirely intact but they will be aided greatly by a midseason acquisition from last year, Pau Gasol, for the full slate of games and their breakout star, center Andrew Bynum, is now fully healthy. Lamar Odom, a starter on just about any other team, will be the sixth man for the Lakers with Jordan Farmar, Trevor Ariza, Sash Vujacic and Luke Walton also available off the bench. The Lakers are stacked top to bottom but as always they will only go as far as Kobe Bryant takes them. When the Lakers won last season, Kobe kept his shots to minimum, but in Laker losses, Kobe averaged more shots per game.
No. 5 - Houston Rockets - 47-33-2 ATS (55-27 SU)
A trendy pick to reach the NBA Finals, Houston has the most intriguing pickup of the offseason with the acquisition of Ron Artest. He will join a starting lineup with point guard Rafer Alston, shooting guard Tracy McGrady, power forward Luis Scola and a healthy Yao Ming at center. Artest, a defensive specialist, will join the defensive-minded Rockets who only allowed 92 points per game last season, fourth best in the NBA. Shane Battier and recent pickup Brent Barry will come off the bench for Houston. Even with Yao out of the lineup last season, Houston was the hottest team in the NBA through the winter months. The Rockets won 22-consecutive games, a franchise record and second most all-time and finished the regular season on a 40-11 run.
The Worst ATS
No. 30 - L.A. Clippers - 33-49 ATS (23-59 SU)
They share an arena with the Lakers but not much else; the Clippers are on the other end of the ATS spectrum. Besides their usual abominable SU record, the Clippers also managed to finish 16 games under ATS. The news should not get any better for the Clippers after losing their two leading scorers from last year, Corey Maggette and Elton Brand. Point guard Baron Davis and power forward Marcus Camby, off-season additions, will help make up some of that scoring. They are going to need to improve on the 93.8 points per game average from last season, second worst in the NBA. Davis is aging and Camby was brought in more for his defensive prowess, which is not going to help the Clippers scoring. The lineup will be different for the Clippers this year but in terms of record and ATS results, that may very well stay the same.
No. 29 - New Jersey - 33-47-2 ATS (34-48 SU)
The Nets sport a new-look starting five with rookie Brook Lopez at center and Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons joining the team, but things could get even uglier this year for the Nets. Jason Kidd is gone, replaced by Devin Harris, and that's a clear downgrade. Chris Douglas-Roberts is another rookie that might make an impact on a team that will clearly be in a rebuilding mode. Vince Carter will surely be shopped around to contenders and could be gone by midseason. With expectations as low as they are, the Nets may surprise some and compete ATS at least with a new offense tailored around Harris's speed at point guard.
No. 28 - Golden State - 34-48 ATS (48-34 SU)
Signing Monta Ellis to a long-term deal and luring Corey Maggette to the Bay Area are not as big of moves as working on a long-term deal for Don Nelson. Giving the veteran coach job security will go a long way in terms of keeping loose cannons like Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington in line. The Warriors were worst in the league last season in defense, allowing 108.8 points per game but Nelson does not mind because his high-adrenaline offense averaged 111 per game, tops in the NBA. Marcus Williams and Ronny Turiaf are new additions that will play a role for the Warriors off the bench. The Warriors are the lone team in the bottom five in ATS record from last season to have a winning record. The Warriors were in playoff contention up until the final week of the season. Expect Golden State to be right in the mix again but this year, the ATS losing should be nowhere near as bad.
No. 27 - Milwaukee - 34-47 ATS (26-56 SU)
The Bucks had the seventh worst defense in the NBA last season, so bringing Scott Skiles aboard made perfect sense for Milwaukee. They also brought along point guard Luke Ridnour and Richard Jefferson, who will start. Rookie lottery pick Joe Alexander out of West Virginia might surprise early on in his career. Andrew Bogut, a former No. 1 draft pick is an above average center but the team will rely on Jefferson and Michael Redd. They combine to form the best scoring duo on the same team this side of the Rocky Mountains.
No. 26 - Miami - 35-46-1 ATS (15-67 SU)
The Heat will be a fun team to watch this year, admittedly, but that may not translate into wins. After being one game from being exact mirror opposites of the 66-16 Boston Celtics last season, the Heat bring along rookies Michael Beasley and "Super" Mario Chalmers, the hero of the Jayhawks Final Four triumph a year ago. They will join a healthy Dwyane Wade and mid-season acquisition Shawn Marion in the starting five along with "center" Udonis Haslem. The Heat were abysmal last season. Expect a better record this year and maybe even a profit at the betting window if Wade can stay healthy and Beasley lives up to the hype.