NBA Futures Odds and Predictions: Post-Dwight Edition
by Alan Matthews - 7/9/2013
Now that we know where pretty much all of the top NBA free agents are going to play next year it's time to revisit the NBA futures odds, with numbers courtesy of Bovada.
Not surprisingly, there's no change at the top as the Miami Heat are 2/1 favorites to three-peat. The Heat are well over the salary cap and thus won't be making any big moves. They did address their biggest issue when Ray Allen, he of the tying 3-pointer late in Game 6 against San Antonio, did exercise his player option to stay with the team instead of becoming a free agent. Now the club will turn its attention to bringing back big man Chris Andersen. It sounds like The Birdman will return to Miami, which does need him.
Oklahoma City remains the 6/1 second-favorite; no change there. The Thunder look worse right now than they did a year ago with Kevin Martin leaving for Minnesota.
It was the trade of James Harden last summer that has made Houston general manager Daryl Morey look like a genius. Not only because Harden blossomed into a superstar but also because he helped lure Dwight Howard to choose the Rockets over the Lakers, Warriors and Mavericks. Back when the Orlando Magic was shopping Howard in trade, Howard's people let Houston know that he wasn't going to re-sign with them when he became a free agent. Obviously the situation looked much better with another star on hand in Harden. Howard's signing catapulted Houston to 9/1 title odds.
I might jump on that number now, because I don't think the Rockets are done. Reports are that they promised Howard they would land a third star. It was thought maybe it would be Josh Smith, Howard's childhood friend, but he signed with Detroit. The Rockets really don't need center Omer Asik any longer, and he's flat-out asked for a deal because he doesn't want to be Howard's backup. The team says it won't trade Asik, but that's posturing. He's too limited offensively to play at the same time as Howard and too valuable to play backup minutes. Asik averaged 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds in 30.0 minutes last year and definitely could bring back good value in a deal. I expect him to be traded for a stretch power forward. Jeremy Lin could be packaged with Asik.
The Lakers are the clear losers in free agency and have dropped all the way to 40/1. Howard was such a bad fit that I'm not sure the Lakers are any worse without him. But I don't think they would mind tanking this season with an eye on Andrew Wiggins in the draft and having tons of cap space next summer to try and lure free agents LeBron James and/or Carmelo Anthony.
The Warriors would have been scary good with Howard but should be better after landing Andre Iguodala. Golden State, which is now 16/1 to win the title, should be the most entertaining club to watch in 2013-14. The Clippers, who were able to keep Chris Paul and landed J.J. Redick and underrated Jared Dudley in a three-team trade involving Eric Bledsoe, are 10/1. I think the Clippers will come out of the West with those additions, as well as bringing in Darren Collison to back up Paul.
The Nets, who traded for half the Celtics' roster and brought in new coach Jason Kidd, are 14/1. I don't see Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce putting Brooklyn past Miami, Chicago (11/1) or Indiana (15/1) in the Eastern Conference. Boston has plummeted to 75/1 under new coach Brad Stevens. I don't expect Rajon Rondo to be a Celtic by this time next year. The C's are hoping Wiggins is though.
Bovada also has posted NBA Rookie of the Year odds, with former Michigan star Trey Burke the 4/1 favorite. He should start from Day 1 for the Utah Jazz. Burke did not look good in his Summer League debut, however.
The Magic's Victor Oladipo is the second-favorite at 5/1 and I don't like that at all. He'll be a good defensive player and a high-motor guy, but I don't see him scoring much in the NBA.
The player I would recommend betting to win the Rookie of the Year is Sacramento's Ben McLemore (9/1). He is the best pure scorer in this draft. I am stunned that McLemore lasted until the seventh overall pick. He should get plenty of shot attempts now that ball-hog and former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans is off to New Orleans. McLemore will have an unselfish point guard in Greivis Vasquez to get him the ball. Someone has to score on that team, and I think McLemore could average close to the 20.1 points that Evans did as a rookie.
The ROY award usually goes to the highest-scoring rookie as it did to Portland's Damian Lillard last season and the three highest scoring rookies before him.
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