Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to February 15 inclusive:
Fifty-plus games into the 2013-14 NBA regular season, and we’ve finally reached the halfway mark. Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans should be a lot of fun. We’ve got a whole lot of great players – plus Joe Johnson. And as much fun as we like to poke at the Eastern Conference, they’ve still got a 36-26 SU record lifetime against the Western Conference, and 4-5 SU over the past nine games.
Unfortunately for the East, they’ve lost each of the past three All-Star games SU and ATS. And looking at the lineups for both teams, it’s going to be difficult to recommend betting on the East this year as 4-point underdogs on the NBA lines. Here’s how things shake down as we prepare for this weekend’s Smoothiegeddon.
You may have noticed there are quite a few losing teams in the East this year. The NBA rewards abject losing far more than mediocrity, in the form of high draft picks, and the race to the bottom of the standings has never been as bald-faced as it is now. The incredibly deep and talented 2014 NBA draft has magnified the imbalance between East and West; we hope you’ve been taking advantage by fading teams like the Milwaukee Bucks (9-43 SU, 20-32 ATS) and following teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder (43-12 SU, 32-23 ATS).
This imbalance naturally spills over into the roster selections for this year’s All-Star Game. The fans who voted for the starters, and the coaches who voted for the reserves, are both to blame for overloading the East with players from the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers. As we’ve already discussed with our look at the top All-Star snubs, Andre Drummond (22.4 PER) and Al Jefferson (22.2 PER) would be stronger choices than Roy Hibbert (16.1 PER) and Chris Bosh (19.8 PER).
But the bigger problem for the East is in the backcourt. There’s a huge difference in talent between the two conferences this year. Starter Kyrie Irving (20.4 PER) is sixth among point guards in Player Efficiency Rating; the five guys ahead of him are all from the West, led by All-Star selections Chris Paul (27.3 PER) and Stephen Curry (23.9 PER). And for some reason, Joe Johnson (14.0 PER) keeps getting named to these things, and keeps signing max contracts. He must be a really decent chap. Not like that rabble-rouser Kyle Lowry (20.1 PER).
I’m Mr. Brow, That’s My Name
The East could be even further restricted this year by the inclusion of Dwyane Wade (21.3 PER), who’s having a fine season in the games he does play – that’s 36 out of Miami’s 51 games thus far. Wade confirmed on Friday that he would start for the East despite sitting out Wednesday’s matchup with the Golden State Warriors because of something the papers are calling “drop foot,” although the condition (nerve damage in the lower leg) is properly known as foot drop.
The West, on the other hand, has one injury replacement this year, and it’s a doozy: Anthony Davis (26.4 PER), who replaces Kobe Bryant and will represent the New Orleans Pelicans at their home arena. Even if Bryant were healthy, this would be a significant upgrade at this point in their respective careers. Davis is fifth overall in the league in PER, and his presence in the paint (20.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.1 blocks per 36 minutes) will be even more valuable in a game where they won’t be playing physical defense against him. Speaking of which, Davis is 12-1 at Bovada to win the All-Star MVP honors. Just a thought.
NBA Pick: Take the West –4 at Sports Interaction