NBA Futures: How the Doc Rivers Trade Impacts the Odds
by George Monroy - 6/25/2013
In the NBA superstars rule the league — unlike in football or baseball one player can be the difference between winning and losing. The league is so star-driven that even the right coach can be the final piece of a championship puzzle. Many times it’s difficult to actually pin down just how much of an impact a coach has on a team, but over the last 23 years there have only been seven coaches to win an NBA title.
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant didn’t win until Phil Jackson got to Los Angeles. Shaq and Dwyane Wade didn’t win until Pat Riley took over in Miami, and Gregg Popovich won four titles with an ever-changing supporting cast around its ‘Big 3’. In the NBA coaches can make a difference. The Los Angeles Clippers seemed to subscribe to that idea when they fired their coach Vinny Del Negro and made a hard push for Doc Rivers. Los Angeles was coming off their best season ever, but 56 wins and a first-round playoff exit were an underachievement for a team being led by the best point guard in the league.
Los Angeles has wrapped up a trade for the former Boston Celtics head coach and the final piece of what they believe to be a championship puzzle. Once the deal was announced, the oddsmakers immediately changed their NBA futures odds, and the Clippers moved into a Top-5 contender spot, according to odds at Sportsbook.ag.
2014 NBA Championship Odds
Miami Heat: +250
Oklahoma City Thunder: +650
San Antonio Spurs: +1000
Chicago Bulls: +1000
Los Angeles Clippers: +1500
A few days before the Doc Rivers deal was announced, the Clippers were receiving +1800 championship odds at Sportsbook.ag and were even higher at other sportsbooks. However, the current roster and coaching uncertainly made them a fringe contender and not a real threat to actually win a title. Despite what some fans and media analyst might believe, an elite head coach can be the difference between a good team and a championship team.
Vinny Del Negro was serviceable, but just look at what happened in Chicago when the Bulls replaced him with an excellent coach in Tom Thibodeau. The Bulls went from being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs to having the No. 1 seed in the East two years in a row. Doc Rivers’ rotation changes alone will make an immediate impact on Los Angeles’ Chris Paul-or-bust mentality in the fourth quarter.
Of course, the Clippers will need to add another piece or two — particularly a low-post scoring threat — in order for them to really make a championship run next season, but upgrading at the coaching position is a huge step for the team and makes their +1500 odds to win the title have excellent value.
2014 Western Conference Championship Odds
Oklahoma City Thunder: +220
San Antonio Spurs: +350
Los Angeles Clippers: +500
Houston Rockets: +800
Memphis Grizzlies: +900
Los Angeles’ Western Conferences odds did not really move after the news of the trade broke. The Clippers were +550 to win the West and are now only +500. The team does not really have any room to move up in the Western Conference as they are already considered the third-best team and are not about to leapfrog the Spurs or Thunder, unless the rumored Blake Griffin for Dwight Howard trade actually happens.
The Clippers match up perfectly well against both the Thunder and Spurs, the only issue in the past had been coaching. Both Gregg Popovich and Scott Brooks would provide a huge advantage for their respective teams and the Clippers, even though they had enough talent to be a contender, could not reach the top of the mountain over the last two seasons. The addiction of Doc Rivers should narrow that coaching gap and allow Los Angeles to match up against the two best teams in the West. The Clippers only bad matchup is against the Memphis Grizzlies. Contrary to what most people might think, the Clippers are not a good post-up team, even though they have Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
The Doc Rivers’ trade added a championship leader to the fold and brings the Clippers one step closer to actually being a legitimate threat to next year’s title. Keep an eye on Los Angeles’ offseason moves. If the team can added one more player that can help with the low-post scoring load, it might be time to jump on those futures odds.
Read more articles by George Monroy
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