NBA Betting: Top Story Lines and How They Impact Bettors
by George Monroy - 10/29/2014
The NBA is back after completing one of its most intriguing and controversial seasons in recent memory. Luckily for everyone that loves basketball, the league will have no shortage of headline-grabbing storylines heading into the year, and with the return of Derrick Rose to Chicago, LeBron James to Cleveland, to go along with Kevin Durant's foot injury, participating in next June's NBA Finals is as wide open as ever. The season is already underway, so let's take a closer look at the top 2014-15 NBA storylines and figure out how they will impact bettors over the course of a long year. All odds comes from Sportsbook.ag.
LeBron James and Kevin Love in Cleveland
Cleveland title odds: +280 (first)
Cleveland East odds: -115 (first)
Cleveland division odds: -200 (first)
Basketball fans already know about the shift in power over in the Eastern Conference after James and Kevin Love signed up to join Kyrie Irving in Cleveland to form the league's new super team. The Cavaliers will be the headlining NBA story for the course of the year as any squad with the best player in the league and two of the Top 15 players in the NBA should be.
The way this will impact bettors is simple-Cleveland will be overvalued all year. The team's title odds, conference odds, division odds and nightly spreads will be bloated because of the public action on the team. Many times it's easy for bettors to get caught up handicapping games that involve teams with a spotlight, and the Cavaliers will be a squad that bettors should ignore. In James' first year with Miami, his team was a favorite in 85 of the 102 games (playoffs included) that they played that season and covered only 49 percent of the time.
Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose' Return
Chicago will have a much higher profile heading into the season now that Rose has returned and is expected to stay healthy. However, the beauty for Chicago is that while the team has improved in nearly every area, it added Pau Gasol to the front court and drafted an NBA-ready shooter in Doug McDermott, the organization's betting odds continue to be overshadowed by Cleveland.
The Bulls won 48 games last year with half the talent that their current roster contains and should be considered the favorite to win the East. If we are calling the Cavaliers overrated, then the Bulls should be considered underrated, as odd as that may sound. Most fans seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach with both Rose's health and Gasol's ability to still play as both players' reputations have taken a hit over the years. However, Chicago is more than Rose and Gasol and will be a monster this season.
Kevin Durant's Broken Foot and the Sinking Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC opening-game spread: +9 against Portland
The reality may finally be setting in that Oklahoma City fans may never win an NBA title with Durant. The reigning MVP broke his foot during the preseason and is expected to miss four to eight weeks, but foot injuries tend to be the most sensitive and difficult injuries for players to overcome. Durant may need more time to return to the court, and if that wait leads into January things may be too late for a Thunder team that could fall into the fifth or sixth seed in a brutal Western Conference. And beyond that there is no guarantee that Durant stays once he reaches the free agency market during the summer of 2016.
Oklahoma City's dynamic point guard, Russell Westbrook, will shoulder most of the load now that Durant is out, and while many bettors my look to shy away from the team, now might be the best opportunity to jump on the Thunder bandwagon. Westbrook is not as efficient of a scorer as Durant, but he is still an excellent scorer nonetheless and has all the talent in the world to keep Oklahoma City competitive during the MVP's absence. OKC opened the season Wednesday as a nine-point underdog against the Portland Trail Blazers, yet if Durant had been around they would have probably been a slight favorite heading into the matchup.
The Thunder might not be an elite team without Durant, but they will still be good enough to cover spreads. Expect the oddsmakers to overreact to the injury and undervalue the Thunder's lines. Westbrook is aggressive and talented enough to help the team covers those large spreads as an underdog.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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