By: Scott Brock-Wilson and Justin Lynch
Prop bets for the upcoming season.
Lines from bovada
Kyle Korver 3pt% under 45% (-115)
He’s another year older and no longer has Carroll opposite of him to keep defenses honest (unless you think Tim Hardaway can fill that role). Korver shot 52% from three before the all-star break, but shot just 43% after, and that number dropped to 36% in the playoffs. If another year causes him to lose a step, he might lose that split second he needs to get the shot off, making him force up more tightly covered shots. Also, teams know to look out for him all the time and will make it a point to stop him. 45% is a high number from deep, I don’t see Korver getting there again.
Marcus Smart PPG over 9.5 (-115)
Smart’s ready to make a jump. After averaging 7.8 points his rookie year, Smart looks more comfortable with his game and within the offense. His shot is coming along and his minutes will likely increase on the 27/game he saw last year. Remember, Smart is a scorer. He averaged 18/game his sophomore season at Oklahoma State. He took a year to get into the flow of things, but year two should see him at least reach double digit scoring.
Kenneth Faried under 15 ppg (-115)
Faried’s just not a scorer. He averaged 12.6 points/game last season, and that was with Gallinari out for a significant chunk of time. With Gallinari back and Chandler occupying the opposite wing, much of the scoring will continue to come from the perimeter. Rookie Emmanuel Mudiay will be big for Faried’s scoring due to their pick-n-roll potential, but at the end of the day, it’s tough for a guy who can’t shoot outside the paint and has no post game to average more than 15 points/game over the course of the season.
Andre Drummond over 15.5 points (-115)
With Monroe gone, Drummond projects to be crazy good. Drummond averaged 13.8 points/game, but now has a full season without any else clogging up the lane. With so much room to operate, we will see more dives off of pick-n-roll’s for Drummond, which is especially good considering the addition of Reggie Jackson, who is a strong passer as the ball-handler in a pick-n-roll. Also, Drummond will have more room to rebound and get his beloved putback buckets. He’s also just 22 years old and is still developing a post game. We will see more of him on the block going to work this season, and he should produce some points that way as well.
Giannis Antetokounmpo over 13 ppg (-115)
Giannis keeps getting better and better. He’s 6’11”, 20 years old, and is good enough to bring the ball up the court. He showed better comfort at driving to and finishing at the basket last season and will continue to improve on that. He averaged 12.7/game last year and I don’t see any way he regresses in year three. Yes, Jabari is back and will steal touches, but Jabari has yet to play in 50 NBA games and will take time to get into rhythm. Also, Giannis’ shot was awful last season, and is he can become just regularly bad from behind the arc, he will surely top 13 points/game.
Robert Covington under 14 ppg (-115)
Okafor will steal a lot of touches, as well as the continuing emergence of Nerlens Noel. With Kendall Marshall and Nik Stauskas also set to get a lot of touches, I’m not sure what will be left on the bone for Covington. And, besides, were you really going to bet on Robert Covington? Didn’t think so.
Knicks will finish higher in the East than the Lakers in the West (-120)
Both teams have glimmers of potential due to sheer talent, but neither have that much talent. The biggest difference is that the Knicks play in the East, where 28 wins can grab you 11th or 12th place. If the Lakers don’t sniff 30 wins, they will be vying for last place. Also, the Lakers pick is top-3 protected or else it goes to Philly, whereas the Knicks lose their pick regardless. So, if they Lakers want, they can go full-tank to try to save their pick. The Knicks have no incentive to do this, so they might as well fight every night. And with the Carmelo trade rumors swirling, don’t be surprised if Melo gets shipped out for a bunch of role players, and the Knicks improve in the short-run because of it. Even if nothing happens, the Knicks at least won’t have to deal with Randle and Hibbert down low together offensively.
John Wall NBA assists leader (+333)
Wall finished second in assists/game last year and he’s been getting better. He’s so fast and so explosive that defenders are forced to help onto him, creating better passing angles for Wall. With Beal fully healthy and Porter set for a breakout year, Wall has even more options. Chris Paul will be his biggest competition, but Paul is 30 and might start taking his foot off the pedal in the regular season. Also, you’re getting pretty good odds considering Wall lost the assist title last year by 0.2 assists/game.
Anthony Davis to lead the NBA in scoring (+500)
Reports are he’s now shooting threes. He has one of the deadliest mid range shots in the league, and he’s still good enough to post up and score down low. He’s the go-to guy, and by far the most reliable option on the Pelicans. No one is sure how good he can be this year, and it’s generally accepted that, on the whole, he has no ceiling. His main competition will be Harden, but with Howard, Lawson, and D-Mo now all craving more touches, Harden’s point totals might fall just enough for Davis to win. And even if they don’t, would you be surprised if Davis started averaging 30?
James Harden MVP (+700)
The runner-up last season and the MVP according to the players is getting no love from Vegas. Anthony Davis will likely be his biggest competition, but the Rockets will be a regular season monster with Harden at the helm. This matters because the voters don’t want to give the award to someone on a six or seven-seeded team. Harden has gotten better every year since the infamous trade from OKC and, with a healthy Beverley, Howard, and D-Mo as well as Ty Lawson around him, he could have a field day with open lanes.
Jerian Grant ROY (+2800)
The Notre Dame product will take the reigns of this offense from Jose Calderon sooner rather than later, especially with the struggles this team is bound to face. Grant is an okay shooter, but he has a quick first step and can finish near the rim. His biggest asset is his court vision and, subsequently, his passing. He’s a long 6’5”, and is super quick going side-side. Grant is a long shot, but he has a chance to become this year’s Michael Carter Williams. He’s a dynamic point guard with limited talent around him on a bad team. At +2800, he’s worth a shot.
Hornets under 33.5 wins (+105)
The Hornets stink. MKG gone is brutal, especially because they’re only other capable wing is Nic Batum who was downright bad last year. Their opening day starter in MKG’s spot is likely P. J. Hairston, who is not a very good shooter at all. Add in Al Jefferson another year older and a rookie at power forward, and this team spells trouble. Even Kemba Walker is a little overrated, and he’s especially not good enough to bring this team up.
Celtics will make the playoffs (EVEN)
The Celtics are making the playoffs. Unless it’s a complete trainwreck, this team will likely win 45+ games. They were the seven-seed last year and added David Lee and Amir Johnson while not losing anyone. Smart is better, Bradley is better, and Stevens will have another year to help these guys along in their development. An even line is crazy.
Miami Heat (+1200) to win east
I don’t think the Heat will win the East, but these are great odds for a team with this much talent. If LeBron were to ever go down, the Heat become the favorites, and I see no one stopping them if LeBron was to miss an extended period of time. No, LeBron has never suffered a major injury before, but he’s already getting injections into his back and the season hasn’t even started. You never know with these things, and grabbing the Heat +1200 is worth the risk.
Horford over 7.5 rpg (-115)
Last year Horford averaged 7.2, but that was his first healthy season where he has ever averaged below nine. I know he had a down year last year, but I am expecting him to bounce back strong. The Hawks will need to lean on him more as this season will be more difficult as the east is much improved. The Hawks will take a step back overall, but Horford will produce.
Jimmy Butler over 18 ppg (-115)
Butler averaged 20 ppg last season, and I only see his role increasing. He is only 25 years old coming off of his first all-star team, and I expect him to be the go-to guy this year, officially taking it away from Rose. Butler has played 38 minutes/game the last two seasons, and that number will surely decrease this season without Thibs at the helm, but Butler’s improvements will be enough to make up for that. Butler will most likely make an all-NBA team this year.
Joakim Noah over 9.5 rpg (-115)
Noah hasn’t had a season under 9.5 rebounds since his second year in the league. Noah had a down year last year, but I expect him to bounce back under new leadership. Many question the Bulls players’ minutes and how they will decrease, but I do not have that worry with Noah, considering he only averaged 30 minutes last year under Thibs.
LeBron James over 24.5 ppg (-115)
When was the last time LeBron scored under 24.5 per game? 2003-04. This was his rookie year and the only year he didn’t make the all-star team. I know LeBron will only be focused on the playoffs, however he isn’t about to have a near-career low in ppg. The Cavs will coast through the regular with LeBron scoring at will.
Dirk Nowitzki over 16 ppg (-115)
Nowitzki will need to do much of the heavy lifting for the Mavs this year. With Ellis, their leading scorer from last season, gone, Nowitzki will need to help compensate for many of those points because Matthews will not make up for all of the 18.7. Nowitzki averaged 17.3 last season, and I am expecting him to improve on that mark. If the Mavs have any shot at making the playoffs, they will need him to have a monster year.
Kristaps Porzingis over 9.5 ppg (-115)
Kristaps is not the type of player that will come in right away and put up double-digit scoring figures. He is on a team where the ball will be dominated by Melo. The next scoring option will probably be Afflalo and possible Grant, another ball dominant guard. I do not see Kristaps getting enough touches to produce a high scoring output.
Ricky Rubio NBA Assist leader (+850)
I am not saying this is going to happen, but Rubio averaged 8.8 assists last year. Everyone on his team got better, and who’s to say that he can’t get 10-10.5 this year? That may be it all it takes to be the assist leader this year. The odds are good so why not throw a couple down on Rubio.
Carmelo Anthony to lead the NBA in scoring (+1500)
Melo will be the only real scorer on the Knicks this year and has the potential to put up huge numbers in the points column this year. He lead the league in scoring only three years ago and came in second two years ago. Once again, I am making this pick due to the good odds. I don’t necessarily think it it’ll happen, but it is at a good price.
Chris Paul (+1600) and Blake Griffin (+2000) to win the MVP
The Clippers are going to be real this year. I am convinced it is their year. And one of these two guys may well sneak up into the top three of the MVP voting and possibly win it. Both of their odds are pretty good considering they have both finished in the top three of MVP voting during their time with the Clippers. When deciding between the two, you could opt either way.
Celtics to win the Atlantic Division (+200)
The Celtics are a sneaky good team this year. They have a top tier coach and a lot of depth. They may very well reach 50 wins. I see the Raptors continuing their downward trend from the end of last year. So why not take the Celtics?