NBA is almost back again!
As we did last preseason we will touch on some free-agent signings, trades and players roles and how they affect the team’s style of play, players expected role and opportunity. Most of all, which player’s early line bets we will look to take advantage of when the season begins based on those changes. We are going with the team preview style article again as we did last season. I will give a brief overview of players to watch. Unlike last season we will be counting these tips toward our overall record.
Team by team notes;
Opening up here with one of our favourite ways to make money. A player coming off an injury-riddled season. Hunter dropped 2.5mpg last season playing only 23 games. He did however boost his 2FG% by 12% on a similar amount of attempts. As well as 9% on his FT% from his previous season, which is an unusual jump.
Even with Kyrie missing for the forseable future not a lot stands out for the Nets, the front court is deep and minutes will likely change on a night to night basis. Bruce Brown should step in to replace Kyrie as a starter and while he is not a high usage player he is a great rebounder for a 6’6″ player. Virtually MIA in the playoffs was Joe Harris shooting a dismal 34% from the field. Harris is a career 48% shooter, recency bias may gift us a low line to open the season.
In my mind, it is clear that Marcus Smart is the PG of this team now however, there is some conjecture that it may be Schroder. We will know come opening night if Schroder starts. If this is the case expect Smarts role to be a similar role to what has played his entire career but if he doesn’t it’s full steam ahead for Smart. While he has always been a streaky shooter keep an eye on his assists line. He did produce a career-high in assists last year with Kemba missing a lot of time so there may not be any value in the line.
Probably the most hyped team that may not even make the playoffs. LaMelo Ball has brought some excitement to Charlotte for the first time in a long time. Sadly for us, this extra attention tends to draw sharper lines. One place we may find value is with Rozier. Historically a poor FG% player Rozier increased his 2FG% to a whopping 51% after a career-best 43% the previous season. Rozier has continued this hot shooting during the preseason but I am still sceptical it can stay anywhere close to this.
Probably the highest variance team in the league, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Bulls finished 3rd in the East and it also wouldn’t surprise me if they finished 9th. The starting 5 is stacked with household names and it’s a little tricky to tell how the shots are going to be distributed. Most likely Vucevic is going to be the player to see the biggest decrease in shot attempts. Unfortunately, I think the bookmakers are likely to see it this way too.
While Collin Sexton is seen by the casuals as the face of the franchise most hardcore fans would tell you Garland is the best player on this team. The cat may already be out of the bag with Garland’s impressive end to last years season. While he scored 20ppg on the best shooting of his career it certainly was unsustainable percentages. Look for Garland to take the common 3rd-year jump and cement himself as the best player on this team.
I know everybody has given up on Porzingis and I certainly don’t have any faith he will become what Dallas hoped for when they traded for him but herein is where the value lies! When everybody is writing him off. While I cannot argue that Porzingis is injury prone I can argue that last year he came into the season injured, this season he has had a full training camp and has participated in the preseason, where he has looked good. Combined with his subpar showing in the playoffs and a bad matchup versus the Clippers, where he was relegated to a catch and shoot player, I am quite confident we get some value on an over to begin the season.
While I doubt there will be any value here. Porter is the obvious breakout candidate with the Nuggets, he will start and take a majority of the usage left by injured Jamal Murray. A player that may have some value is Will Barton. Coach Malone has always seemed to have been a fan of Barton’s, unlike Porter, coming off an injury-plagued season and arguably the best playmaker outside of Jokic, Barton could see the ball in his hands a little more than people may expect. Point + assists may have some value too.
Detroit has had a roster overhaul since last season, after signing an unusual amount of centres the team has now properly committed to a rebuild. A player that stood out most late last season was Isaiah Stewart who averaged 12 & 9 in 27 minutes in the final month of the season. After trading a majority of their centre Stewart has a clear run to minutes this season combined with him not being a household name there could be some value to begin the season on points & rebounds.
Golden State Warriors
A team still in limbo a season later waiting for Klay Thompson to return to see if they can make another run to the finals. After gifting their number 1 draft pick minutes and trying to retool on the fly while waiting for Klay last season, they are back to simply trying to win now. A player that has stepped up has been Jordan Poole. Outside of Curry, there are limited players with shot creation and ball handling, Poole is the next best. Unfortunately for us, he has played well in the preseason which may remove some value. It will be very interesting to see where his line lands.
Despite going into a rebuild post-Harden trade there isn’t a lot of unknowns with this team. Wood is the best player, Porter is going to continue to prove he can be a franchise cornerstone and Green will get to shoot a lot and be bad as rookies are. A name that is a little under the radar is Alperen Sengun, Sengun is a per-minute monster who contribute across the board excluding 3 pointers. While he may not have any value at the beginning of the season post All-Star break may see his minutes increase.
The Pacers enter the season the walking wounded. TJ Warren out again, Levert with a spinal injury and injury clouds over Brogdan, Holiday and Lamb. I was interested to see how the pace would affect Sabonis under new coach Rick Carlisle however, with so many injuries he is going to get a bump in usage to begin the season.
Los Angeles Lakers
While the Lakers had a lot of turnover in the offseason there isn’t a lot to see here. We know the 3 main players and what we expect from them. The only variable that may go in our favour is the rumours of Davis playing at the centre, which we know is his best position. Westbrook will likely take some of his rebounds however, Davis’s rebounding strangely dropped last season. So if he does play more centre this year usually you would see an increase in rebound numbers but the Westbrook factor should see him average a similar amount of rebounds this season. Davis also had a slight drop in FG%, playing closer to the rim should see his percentage at least ingress to the norm. What does worry me is his FT%, last year dropped significantly and the preseason numbers aren’t showing any signs of this not continuing to be an issue for him.
Los Angeles Clippers
A lost season before it even starts for the Clippers with Leonard not likely to play all season. The question is who is going to fill the void. Naturally, Paul George will get a bump. The likely second banana is Reggie Jackson after his playoff performance. There is a world where Eric Bledsoe could restore some of the value that he lost while in New Orleans. This outcome has some solid foundations with the rumours that he will start alongside Jackson.
A clone of the aforementioned Kristaps Porzingis, a big man that blocks a lot of shots and shoots the 3 ball…and sadly misses 30 games a season. The same as Porzingis, Jackson has had a full pre-season this year and played well so far which may remove some line value. Furthermore, Jackson has yet to exceed 30mpg in his career, I think this, his 4th season where a lot of players make a leap will be the season where he does. The combination of all the factors makes me believe 20ppg is well within grasp for JJJ. With Dillon Brooks injured to begin the season, I expect Bane to start. Memphis being a small market and Bane a little known player there could be some value to begin the season.
Last season Miami did not have a traditional / playmaking point guard who demanded over 30 minutes a night. A lot of offence was run through Bam Adebayo who averaged an impressive 5.5 assists per game. This season the team signed that type of point guard in Kyle Lowry. If Adebayo’s assist line from last season holds look to play the under. Last season we faded the public on Tyler Herro after his eye-catching bubble performance. We cautioned the hype around Herro and subsequently, he was viewed as a disappointment last season. While his minutes increased along with his ppg, his efficiency decreased. His 2FG% increased but his 3FG% decreased as did his FT%. Herro has impressed in the preseason, showing signs of what people expected from him last season.
Expect more of the same from the defending champs. Portis has been a little overhyped after his impressive postseason however, I am not confident enough to play the under seeing as Portis has never met a shot he does not like.
We kind of know who the Wolves are or at least where the ball will go. Towns will be the focal point. Coach Finch ran a lot more of the offence through Towns which saw a spike in his assists numbers but doubtful there will be any value in the line. Edwards, the number 1 pick in last years draft finished the season strong and there is no reason why he won’t continue on that trajectory. Russell has been a player who puts up respectable counting stats but always misses games. While I don’t expect an increase in efficiency Russell should see more minutes and potentially have some value depending on where his line is set.
New Orleans Pelicans
There are question marks over the backcourt rotation for the Pelicans. Usually, I would say follow the money which would mean Graham would start and this still could be the case. Rookie Trey Murphy and Nickeil Alexander-Walker have both had strong preseasons making their own case too. Alexander-Walker is the most likely to have the biggest bump this season with more minutes and Zion out to begin the season.
New York Knicks
A much clearer starting 5 compared to last season. We all know Thibs likes to play his starters big minutes, Randle was a break out last year which surprised a lot of people but now with some more playoff calibre players people may be over rateing randle a little and I certainly do not see his numbers going up again now he is sharing the ball with much more competent players.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The tank job is still in full effect for the Thunder and 1st round draft pick Josh Giddey is going to get every opportunity to prove he is a future piece of the franchise. Giddy will be bad like most rookies however he is a great rebounder for a guard and while he has played well in pre-season there may still be some value in a rebound + assists line. Lesser-known player Isaiah Roby could potentially start opening night. I like what Roby can do especially if Favors is shut down or less likely, traded.
Sadly nothing to see here for the Magic in terms of value in my opinion. Mo Bamba may have a breakout season, especially early with the injuries to Okeke the frontcourt is very thin which will likely see Bamba and Wendall Carter play sometime at the 4. Suggs is a rookie and will be bad. Cole Anthony may have some value early but these are all only lower-end players that likely will not have markets.
Despite all the drama around Simmons, it looks as though he will suit up on opening night…money talks…Tyrese Maxey was in line to have a jump in value in the absence of Simmons but I doubt there will be markets for either. Other than that expect much of the same from the 76ers until a Simmons trade is made.
I underestimated the Suns last year, although they were lucky to catch the Lakers, Clippers, and Nuggets far from 100%. No wholesale changes from the Suns and like the 76ers expect more of the same from the usual suspects.
In last season’s preview, I mentioned Nurkic may see increased minutes and an uptick to match but my confidence level was not high. This year I am slightly more confident this season even though Nurkic’s star has fallen further based on last season. Similar to Porzingis and Jackson he had an interrupted pre-season with family and Covid. I’m fairly confident we will see a bounce back, probably not to bubble Nurkic but at lease something similar to his 19-20 campaign.
The only player that really stands out here is Bagley. This will be Bagley’s last season as a King one way or another. Name recognition may see a line that is higher than what it should be but offsetting this potential value is that Bagley gets them up. Buddy Hield may have his last year as a King also. Similarly to Bagley, Hield’s name recognition may gift us a higher line but his value is offset by the fact he is a high attempt and low FG% player which generally scares me off as the opportunity with attempts is present.
San Antonio Spurs
Don’t look now! Are…are the Spurs…rebuilding…kind of…old heads Aldridge, DeRozan, and Mills are out. Murray, Johnson, and White are in. In terms of the value of the 3 Murray has the least. Murray is a great rebounding guard who should see a slight increase in points and assists. The next best is Johnson who will likely see the most minutes increase, being a lesser-known player I expect some value here. White has struggled with injuries all of his career and last year was the worst of them all. Combined with more usage and minutes I think White will have the best value of the 3 by increasing his minutes, points, and assists this season.
It’s been tough going for the Raptors since winning the chip. Missing from the chip due to injury was OG Anunoby. Down the stretch last season OG showed he could take on more of an offensive load. With injuries to Pascal and Boucher to begin the season OG is going to see more minutes and is going to be option 1A with VanVleet. His preseason performance has been impressive and hopefully, that doesn’t remove some of the value on OG to begin the season.
Jazz running it back again with the usual suspects with a few minor fringe player changes. For the majority of last season, Bojan Bogdanovic points, attempts and percentages were all down from the previous season. Maybe it’s because he is getting older but judging by the last 2 months of the season plus the playoffs I’m more inclined to think it was from the surgery he had on his wrist that kept him out of the bubble the previous season. I’d expect his line to have returned to the norm but we may be lucky.
A lot of new faces at the Wizards after the Westbrook trade and a new signing in Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie seems to be popular but no way I want anything to do with any player coming off an ACL. Harrell is the interesting one, he has always put up big numbers in limited minutes and often on below-average teams. After being squeezed in the big man rotation of the Lakers last season Harrell may once again put up numbers for a lower end playoff team. He has a great opportunity to do so with Bryant out to begin the season.
The hardest thing to do is guess where the lines will be set, the good thing is once they are after going through this exercise you will already know what side you are on! Below are my favourite pre-season predictions based on line assumption, or hope! Remember if there is any lineup change do not tail.
- Joe Harris over 11.5
- Terry Rozier under 22.5
- Kristaps Porzingis over 19.5
- Jordan Poole over 17.5
- Jaren Jackson over 15.5 (Top 3 pick)
- D’Angelo Russell over 17.5
- Bam Adebayo under 5.5 assists
- Tyler Herro over 13.5
- Jusuf Nurkic over 24.5 points and rebounds
- Keldon Johnson over 13.5 (Top 3 pick)
- Derrick White over 22.5 points and assists (Top 3 pick)
- O.G. Anunoby over 17.5
- Bojan Bogdanovic over 17.5
- Montrezl Harrell over 12.5
- Josh Giddey over 11.5 rebounds + assists