NBA Post All-Star Break Futures Updates and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 2/27/2012
Back on Dec. 15 at Doc’s, my NBA player props season preview story was posted. And with the Association in its final day off before resuming post-all-star break, let’s take an updated look at the MVP odds as well as the futures odds of some championship contenders.
At Bovada, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Miami’s LeBron James opened as the +150 NBA MVP favorites, with reigning MVP Derrick Rose of the Bulls at +350. Here’s what I said back then: “With all due respect to Rose, who is terrific, he seemed to get criticized by the media a bit after he struggled against LeBron and Co. in the East Finals – it was pretty clear that LeBron was the MVP of the league. … The NBA MVP is a popularity contest probably more than any other sport’s MVP. And it seems the media’s scrutiny of LeBron has softened a year after the ‘Decision.’ I could see James averaging nearly a triple-double this season and I think you have to take him to win a third NBA MVP award.”
It’s now pretty evident that either Durant or James is going to win the award this season. LeBron is now the overwhelming 1 /2 favorite at Bovada with Durant at 6/1 and the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, the NBA’s leading scorer, sandwiched in between at 9/2.
James is having easily his best season, which is saying something. He is third in the NBA in scoring at 27.4, behind Kobe (28.4) and Durant (27.9). James is also averaging 8.1 rebounds, which would be a career-high (it leads all small forwards), and 6.8 assists (team-high). And LeBron added a post game during the offseason and it shows. His three-point attempts are way down and his field-goal percentage overall is 54.7 percent, by far the best of his Hall of Fame career. And, actually, his three-point percentage also is at a career-high of 41.3 percent. His player efficiency rating of 32.42 is the league’s best. The guy has no flaws right now. (Well, until we see him in the fourth quarter of playoff games). Some might argue against LeBron because the Heat have Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but James was dynamic in the handful of games Wade missed in the first half: the Heat are 8-1 without Wade. Barring an injury, LeBron will be the MVP.
Bovada doesn’t have odds currently on who will be the NBA’s top scorer this season but Sportsbook.com does. Before the season, Durant was the +100 favorite at Bovada to win his third straight scoring title with James second at +250. Unfortunately back then, I recommended the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony at the good price of +650. Injuries have taken him out of that race. Currently on Sportsbook, Kobe is the -110 favorite with Durant at +180 and James at +200. And just because you can’t write an NBA story these days without mentioning him, the Knicks’ Jeremy Lin is at +5000 to win the scoring title.
I think you have to go Durant here. Bryant, I believe, will start to break down a bit at his age in this compressed schedule (he actually broke his nose and suffered a mild concussion in the All-Star Game). Durant obviously is much younger and has really started to fill it up – he’s averaging 29.5 points per game in February compared to Kobe averaging only 25.6 this month.
Sportsbook also has updated odds to win each division. In my mind, three of the divisions are non-races: Northwest (OKC leads by nine games), Southeast (Heat lead by 5.5 games and second-place Magic probably won’t have Dwight Howard much longer) and Central (Bulls lead by ive).
Lin has made the Atlantic Division race interesting as his Knicks trail the 76ers by 3.5 games. Philly is -120 to win it with New York at even money. I’m taking the Knicks there. The Sixers are starting to sprout leaks, having entered the break losers of five in a row. The closest race is the Pacific, with the Clippers (-200) leading the Lakers (+120) by 1.5 games. I am taking the Lakers– I think they do land Howard before the trade deadline (there are some rumors this is already a done deal). Finally, the Spurs (-200) lead the Southwest Division by three games over Dallas (+175). I like the Mavericks on this one. San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich could care less about winning the division – he just wants his guys healthy come playoffs. Remember, he sat Tony Parker and Tim Duncan despite the Spurs having an 11-game winning streak? Plus Manu Ginobili is banged-up again.
The Heat opened the season as the NBA title favorites and they still are – now at 7/5 at Bovada. The Thunder are next at 17/4. Unfortunately, I don’t see any club beating Miami without a key injury to one of the Heat’s Big 3. But it might be worth putting down some money on the Lakers at 14/1 because those odds will get a lot shorter if Howard arrives.
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