NBA Betting and Handicapping: Studs and Duds Against the Spread
We are, more or less, a quarter of the way through the NBA season. There is a lot left to be played out, and we certainly aren't likely to see the same standings at the end of the year that we do now - on many fronts. But this is a good time to take a step back, look at where we are so far, and see which teams have done well for bettors and which have sunk. Here are the betting studs and duds of the first quarter of the NBA season:
Dallas (13-6 ATS): Luka Doncic is shaping up to be the steal of the draft - and letting him go could be the biggest mistake the Hawks have ever made. He is going to be a superstar, and he already has given this team a big boost. They are only one game above .500 on the season, but they have won seven of eight, and covered each win, so they are in a very good place right now. They won't keep winning at the current rate, but they are deeper than it seemed like they would be, and they are going to be a tough out all year.
Charlotte (14-7 ATS): Kemba Walker is having a phenomenal year, establishing himself as a true superstar, and his team is quietly above .500 and leading their division. Of course, the division is almost unbelievably awful, so that's not saying much. But when a team with low expectations and almost no national profile finds some relative success, it's no surprise that they are churning out profits.
L.A. Clippers (12-7 ATS): As I write this the Clippers haven't tipped off on Wednesday night yet, but at this moment they are leading the West. Most people would have struggled to imagine them as a playoff team, but their strong start driven by chemistry over star power, and a rough start for several supposed Western powers, has set them up very well. It likely won't last, but it sure has been fun. The big lesson here is obvious - good things happen when you draft a Canadian in the first round, as they did in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Memphis (12-8 ATS): The formula is familiar here again. The Grizzlies seemed destined to be fighting with Dallas for the cellar of the Southwest Division, but instead they are clear in first place with a 12-8 record. The division is upside down with Houston in last, and it's not likely to stay that way, but for now Mike Conley is shining, and the team is doing well - and was doing even better until a three-game skid of late.
Sacramento (12-8 ATS): The Kings have cooled off, going 4-6 in their last 10, but there are few out there who would have picked them to be at 10-10 after 20. That is probably at least two wins ahead of most expectations - even the optimistic ones - so this betting performance checks out.
L.A. Lakers (7-13 ATS): It's LeBron James and no one on this team most nights, and they are still the sixth betting choice to win the title right now. I have as much chance of winning it all as James does this year, and the last time I played was in eighth grade. The public is incapable of being rational when it comes to King James. And when you move him to the biggest media market in the league, the issues are only going to magnify.
Boston (8-13 ATS): It's not time to panic just yet, but this was supposed to be no worse than the second-best team in the East this year, and right now they sit seventh - and it's not because the East is good and deep and off to a strong start. They have a whole lot of issues, and the path beyond them certainly isn't simple or clear.
Houston (7-13 ATS): The Rockets are just a mess right now. Harden is doing it all, and it is having no impact. They are just lost. The team is so bad right now that not only are they second last in the West, but they wouldn't even be a playoff team in the dismal East. They are too good to be this bad, but it sure isn't easy to see the way out from where we are sitting right now.
Philadelphia (9-14 ATS): The Sixers have been fine and are sitting third in the East - which is where many expected them to be entering the season. But it has been a strange year, with the Butler trade and the Fultz drama and more trade speculation. They feel unsettled, and despite the wins they clearly aren't feeling settled right now - as the betting performance certainly suggests.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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