NBA Props Odds and Picks: Scoring, Rebounds and Assists Leaders
by Alan Matthews - 10/23/2014
I don't know about you, but I am probably more excited about this NBA season since at least LeBron James' first with the Heat when he became the league's No. 1 villain. Amazing how things have changed in four years as now James is back in Cleveland and again the NBA's most popular player. You can go home again!
The player props are really starting to roll out. Bovada just released individual props on every major player on each team. Other sites are sure to follow. Today let's look at Bovada's odds for the 2014-15 leaders in scoring, rebounds and assists.
Can Durant Repeat?
Sure, James is obviously the best player in the NBA. He probably will end his career on the Mount Rushmore of the Association along with Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and ... well, I will let you pick the fourth (Magic? Bird? The Big O? Jabbar?). However, Durant is hands down the best pure scorer in the NBA and one of the best ever. The guy can handle the ball like a guard, but he's nearly 7-feet tall. It's not fair.
Durant won his fourth scoring title last season, tied for the third most all time behind Jordan and the Stilt. The only time in the past five years Durant didn't win it he was a close second to Carmelo Anthony in 2012-13. Durant's 32.0 points last year were a career high, and he took his game to another level when Russell Westbrook missed a chunk of the season injured. Durant had one 41-game game stretch where he scored at least 25 points, which is one better than Jordan did. He wasn't close to the record, which was 80 by Chamberlain in the 1961-62 season.
The Thunder star is the 3/2 Bovada favorite to lead the league in scoring again, but I don't like that bet. Of course, Durant recently had surgery for a broken foot, and he has made it clear that he's not rushing back. I think he misses at least six weeks of the season and quite possibly more. You must play in 58 of 82 regular-season games (70 percent of your team's total games) to qualify for the scoring title. I simply don't believe Durant does that. Even if he doesn't miss the first 24, he will get a few off.
Anthony is the 2/1 second favorite. Not huge on him, either. How will Carmelo adjust to the triangle that Coach Derek Fisher will implement? Obviously it didn't hurt Jordan much, but Anthony's not Jordan. LeBron is 11/4, but he's probably never going to win another scoring title because he does everything. James won in 2007-08 with the Cavs when he was all they had. Now they have Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to score.
My pick is Houston's James Harden at 13/2. All the Rockets ask Harden to do is score. He doesn't pass and absolutely doesn't play defense. Harden finished fifth last season at 25.4 ppg, and he will have to make up for the loss of Chandler Parsons and his 16.6 points per game, which are now in Dallas.
Expect Big Things from Drummond
If you held an NBA Draft of all current players right now, obviously James and Durant would go 1-2, with Anthony Davis third. I won't argue the other seven, but I assure you that young Detroit center Andre Drummond would be one of them. He is your 2/1 co-favorite with the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan to win the rebounding title.
The 21-year-old Drummond was the steal of the 2012 draft at No. 9 overall. The Pelicans are thrilled with the No. 1 overall pick in Davis, but the Bobcats have to be kicking themselves for not taking Drummond at No. 2 over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who is a nice player but not a franchise-changer. Drummond took a giant leap last year, averaging 13.5 points and 13.2 rebounds. I kid you not, I think he might be the NBA's best center this year, even over Dwight Howard (Davis is a power forward).
Speaking of Howard, Coach Stan Van Gundy got the best out of him in Orlando. Guess who the Pistons' new coach is this season? I Drummond beats out Jordan, who led the league last year at 13.6 boards per game. Howard (7/2) and Love (5/1) round out the favorites.
Paul vs. Field
Clippers point guard Chris Paul won his third assist title but first since 2008-09 last year at 10.7 dishes per game. That was the lowest total since 2005-06 for any assist king. I think the days of guys leading the league with 12 or more are gone. Too much isolation in the modern game and too many kick-out 3-pointers that originate in the post.
Paul is the 2/3 favorite, and BetOnline has an interesting prop on him against the field (+120). I'm taking the field there. Who could beat out Paul? Well, there's always the chance Paul misses enough games not to qualify. He sat out 20 last year. But if I had to pick a guy it would probably be Minnesota's Ricky Rubio, and he's great value at 14/1. Yes, the Timberwolves are going to stink, but they are going to run and run. That should lead to plenty of fast-break assists for Rubio. And unlike Paul, Rubio can't shoot a lick. All the Wolves want him to do is pass. It's also a contract year for the Spaniard, so I expect a career high in dimes. Not to mention he will be motivated to stay on the court.
The two players in between Paul and Rubio are Boston's Rajon Rondo (2/1) and Washington's John Wall (8/1). Both those guys also will be needed plenty to score, which will hurt in the assist category.
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