Why These NBA Teams Have Been Surprisingly Good Bets (Thus Far)
by Doug Upstone Scores & Statson
With just over a month gone in the NBA season, we have data that is becoming useful to gauge the success or failure of teams. For our purposes, we are talking cash, the kind that goes into our pocket or wagering account from betting the NBA.
Our focus is to understand why certain teams have performed well against the spread to this point and while are probably not going to continue to beat the number at the same percentage going forward, they at least deserve our attention to see if they would qualify as a pick on the day they play.
Portland has come blazing out of the starting blocks (pun clearly intended). We all know how dynamic and difficult their backcourt is too guard with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, with the duo averaging about 46 points a night. But where this team continues to grow is on the defensive end.
Two years ago the Blazers were 25th in points allowed and after getting tired of losing, they listened to coach Terry Stotts and dropped to 6th last season. They are hovering at roughly the same level this season but the real improvement is a greater commitment and right now they are first in defensive field goal percentage. Center Jusuf Nurkic is the anchor and Zach Collins has stepped in at power forward when Stotts wants to go big and that has been a factor at both ends of the floor. Al-Farouq Aminu continues to grow both defensively and offensively.
If Portland can maintain being a Top 10 three-point shooting team and keep up the defensive intensity, they could end up being a very good team who finally makes some noise in the postseason.
The Kings don't suck? After years of being a team every opponent wanted to play because Sacramento was that beatable, FINALLY, the Kings are making progress. When Vlade Divac took over as GM, he promised everything about this organization would change. Most scoffed, because, you know, it was Sac-Town.
Divac hired Dave Joerger to add order and precision to a roster that was in the process of a complete makeover and though the Kings only won 27 games last year, they were 39-40-3 ATS, largely more competitive, especially after the All-Star break.
Led by a backcourt of Buddy Hield and De'Aaron Fox, the Sacramento has gone from last in scoring a season ago to 10th this year. The versatile Willie Cauley-Stein is manning the center spot and Nemanja Bjelica along with Marvin Bagley III are scoring and rebounding in the frontcourt.
There is an energy, a team energy that has not been seen in years which is driving this team and they are more than holding their own most nights.
Chances are this still young group will have regression, but the Kings are no longer court jesters.
Though Dirk Nowitzki has not retired, he's no longer the face of the organization and is currently sitting out trying to get healthy. But that is fine because one year after owner Mark Cuban admitted Dallas was tanking, the Mavericks are on the way back.
There is no talk of championships, as the Mavs probably are not even playoff material, but they have a nice mix of youth and experience now, which makes them a far better team than a year ago.
Luka Doncic is going to be a star and he's already the Mavericks leading scorer at close to 20 points a game at the ripe old age of 19.
Harrison Barnes has been Rick Carlisle's best player since arriving from Golden State, but his responsibilities are in the midst of changing with Doncic and DeAndre Jordan at center and the protector of the paint.
Dallas is a better team because they have a stronger roster and they have upgraded their play in nearly every way except three-point defense (27th) and when Dirk returns to play say 20 minutes a game, the Mavs will be that much better.