Not Enough Umpff There are a handful of franchises that are just outside the door ready to open it and make the playoffs. The problem is most of them are just not priced high enough to bring home a huge payday. The first of those dogs is Atlanta.
The Hawks went 29-53 last season, but they have a young lineup that is playoff-worthy. John Collins may be the best player no one has ever heard of after scoring 19.5 points and grabbing 9.8 rebounds per game last season. Point guard Trae Young averaged 19.1 points and dished out 8.1 assists during an outstanding rookie season. De’Andre Hunter is improving and Kevin Huerter is deadly from long range. Add in rookie Cam Reddish and the Hawks may have what it takes to sneak into the Eastern Conference playoffs. At +220 to make the playoffs, it’s a decent bet but we can do better.
The same is true of Dallas, which checks in at +200 to make the playoffs. The Mavericks return the NBA Rookie of the Year in Luka Doncic (21.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 6.0 apg) and a healthy Kristaps Porzingis makes Dallas dangerous.
The NBA odds on Sacramento to make the postseason are set at +250. The Kings finished ninth in the West last season and haven’t made the playoffs in 13 seasons. A backcourt of De’Aaron Fox (17.3 ppg, 7.3 apg) and Buddy Hield (20.7 ppg) makes the Kings worthy, though the price could be a little nicer.
New Orleans traded away Anthony Davis, but ended up with the first pick in this year’s draft and adds the dynamic Zion Williamson to the roster. That gives the Pelicans a lineup that includes Williamson, Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, and Brandon Ingram. It makes for an interesting bet, but at +210, we can probably find some better value.
The Big Maybe The majority of NBA previews wrote off the 2019-20 season for Kevin Durant, now of the Brooklyn Nets. Recall that Durant was injured in the postseason, tearing an Achilles tendon. The normal rehab time for such an injury is about nine to twelve months in a best-case scenario. What that means is that Durant may or may not return near the end of the regular season.
What is not a big maybe is Kyrie Irving. He will play from the get-go for the Nets, but can he do enough to keep New York in playoff contention while Durant heals and prepares? If Durant is ahead of schedule, the Nets at +500 to make the postseason becomes much more intriguing.
The Big Dog Phoenix at +1000 is just not ready to make a move to the postseason. The really interesting underdog is Memphis. No, the Grizzlies do not have a true NBA superstar on their roster, but first-round draft pick Ja Morant is likely headed there. Morant can do it all at the point guard position. Teamed with Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jae Crowder, and Jonas Valanciunas; the Grizzlies are big, athletic, and will be one of the best defensive teams in the league. The +800 price tag and the fact they won 33 games last year make Memphis an outstanding underdog pick to make the postseason.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.