Playing the NBA Stock Market: Buy or Sell
by Josh Nagel - 12/01/2008
Black Friday was a buyer's market if you were one of the millions who braved the frigid November cold for hours on end in hopes of getting first selection and prime value out of your holiday shopping.
For sports bettors, it's also the season for bargain hunting. But the good news is, you don't have to camp out in the Best Buy parking lot for 12 hours to get a good deal. This early in the NBA season, there still is time to find and identify teams of value and watch the profits come rolling in.
Here is this week's edition of NBA Buy or Sell, a few tips on teams that look ready to either go on a run or face a downward trend:
San Antonio Spurs - Yes, these guys made the Sell list two weeks ago but, much like the NBA games themselves, a lot can change quickly. While this team is still long in the tooth and by no means a club to expect a lot from throughout the season, now might be the best time to get what value they have to offer. For the first time, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker are all healthy and as long as they have the Big Three and coach Gregg Poppovich, the Spurs can never be taken lightly. After a disastrous start, this team has won and covered in seven of its last nine games. This week, the Spurs face a few teams against whom they historically match-up well, including the Nuggets, Warriors and Mavericks.
Charlotte Bobcats - One thing Larry Brown knows how to do is coach a point guard, and he apparently has found a nice tandem in Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin, both of who will be cornerstones of his rebuilding project. This team still needs more production from the post, but it has already made a huge jump in competitiveness compared to last season. Evidence of this lies in the fact that the Bobcats are 10-6 ATS and have covered in seven of their last nine despite winning just two of those straight-up. So while they may not win the game, look for some value to be found in taking the points as the Bobcats figure to be significant underdogs most of the time.
Portland Trail Blazers - Years of consistently picking high in the NBA lottery have netted Portland one of the most potent lineups in the league in terms of sheer talent. With Brandon Roy developing leadership to go along with his immense skill and Greg Oden starting to contribute, this team should continue to improve. They have won and covered in seven of 10, and an upcoming four-game road swing should be a test of how far they have come.
Philadelphia 76ers - Last year's feel-good story has been this year's disappointment. So far, at least. After making the playoffs last year with a rag-tag club of no-names, the 76ers were supposed to get a whole lot better after adding some big name free agents, most notably Elton Brand. Instead, they have taken a step backward, and bettors have been worse for it. This team has failed to cover in six of its last seven and has lost four games in a row.
Phoenix Suns - More of Steve Nash and Shaq is likely what ESPN had in mind when it decided to televise a whole bunch of Suns games this season. Instead, all Phoenix has provided is home-cooked embarrassment, getting blown out three times at home before a national TV audience in the past three weeks. The last was a 107-92 shellacking by a mediocre Heat team last Friday night. Even some Suns players have expressed frustration, saying they aren't sure what style they are supposed to be playing under new coach Terry Porter. Never a good sign. This team is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games.
Washington Wizards - This team finally let coach Eddie Jordan out of his misery a couple of weeks ago, correctly stating that the team should be much more competitive. However, there doesn't seem to be much reason for hope and there's no help on the way. This team is in the bottom third of every major category offensively; if that weren't enough, they are also in the bottom third of all defensive categories. They have given their backers eight losses in their past 10 games, and there's no good reason to expect this trend to change.