NBA Wagering Tips: Teams that Should Be Strong Bets Moving Forward
We are more than a quarter of the way into the NBA season now. In some cases, we know a lot more about some teams than we did when the season started. And in other cases, we know a whole lot less than we thought we knew. If people haven't been paying much attention to what has been happening in the league so far - distracted by football, perhaps - then they are going to look to the standings to tell them who is good and who isn't. And in some cases, that will work just fine - the Bucks really are as good as the standings suggest, and the Knicks may even be worse than their record. But for some teams, what they have done so far, and what they are capable of - or, more importantly for bettors, what they are likely to do the rest of the way - is not at all reflected by where they are in the standings. Here are five teams that are probably solidly better than the records suggest and have a solid chance of showing it the rest of the way down the stretch.
Utah Jazz (13-11): We have seen this story before. Last year the Jazz were awful before Christmas, but then they figured things out, and were very tough to beat the rest of the way. This year they have been a long way from inspiring, but they are solidly ahead of where they were at this time last year. The difference, of course, is that they worked hard to become a better team in the offseason, so expectations grew. And the gap between where they are now and those expectations is probably wider than it was last year. But this team found their stride then, and there is no real reason to think that they won't again. Chemistry isn't where it needs to be by any means, and it's as if Donovan Mitchell forgets everything he has learned about his role each year and has to learn it all over again. But if this team goes 13-11 or worse in their next stretch of 24 games, I will be truly and utterly shocked.
Portland Trail Blazers (10-15): This has just been a disastrous start for the Trail Blazers. They can't stay healthy. Carmelo Anthony had to be brought in, which is never a sign of good things going on. Rodney Hood became the third major contributor - following Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins - to be lost long term. That would be the biggest blow any team has had to deal with if it weren't for the Warriors. But this team has a very talented backcourt, and they have the ability to get creative and make some moves. Kevin Love reportedly is desperate to join the team, and that could be a start. They can't lose that many guys and be all they could have been at full strength. That isn't happening. But they can find a happy place, surely, where they can start beating more than just the dregs of the league. They can find a way to be at least a little dangerous.
Sacramento Kings (10-13): If I am wrong about any team on this list, this will most likely be it. But I like a lot about this team. Not like as in I think they are a contender, or even a playoff contender. But like as in I think they have more going on than a Kings team has since Chris Webber was in town. They have six guys averaging double-digit points, and Marvin Bagley will as well once he returns from injury and is at full strength. They have a lot of intriguing talent with upside, and if they can get some health luck and let things gel a bit they could all take a step forward. For less concrete reasons than other teams, I really feel like this team has another level that they are more likely than not to find. I'm not saying they are going to blow the doors off the league or anything, but they could follow up a 10-13 stretch with a 13-10 one, and it would be both useful and not too surprising.
Dallas Mavericks (16-7): Dallas has been one of the most impressive stories in the league so far, and if you aren't a massive Luka Doncic fan then you have no soul. But as good as this team has ben - and their 16-7 mark is on the high side of most reasonable sets of expectations coming into the season - they have room to be even better. There are two good reasons for that optimism. First, they were 6-5 to start the season, so they have gone 10-2 since then. And they don't seem to be playing hugely beyond themselves of late, so they should be able to come close to sustaining a pace closer to now than then. And second, they are just 8-5 at home. Teams this good don't keep up records that lackluster at home - not in a building as friendly to play in as theirs has been over the years. This team may be a year or two away from being truly terrifying, but there is still a little room for growth here.
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