The NBA officially released their schedule last week and with more information to go on, we can now take a look at what lines are worth wagering on over at BetOnline.ag.
No Value in MVP and Rookie of the Year Races
At the moment, Giannis Antetokounmpo is -2500 to win the MVP. I personally do not bet lines like this but you can go ahead and call this a lock. While LeBron James was gaining momentum in the MVP race (BetOnline has him at +750 to win) before the season was suspended, that’s done. There aren’t enough games left for him to catch Giannis on top of the fact that he probably wasn’t going to do it regardless. The fact is, Giannis is playing better this year than he did when he won the MVP trophy last year. He does it on both ends of the court, something LeBron does in the 4th quarter but not for full games. Giannis’ team also has the best record in the league and he should be considered a lock for back to back MVPs.
As for the Rookie of the Year race, you can go ahead and give the trophy to Ja Morant unless New Orleans pulls off a miracle. In my opinion, New Orleans overtaking Memphis to get into the playoffs still should not be enough for Zion Williamson (+1000 to win Rookie of the Year) to win. Let’s start with some obvious facts here. Ja Morant has played in 59 games compared to Zion’s 19 appearances. That alone should disqualify Zion from contention. Then there’s also what Ja has been able to do with very limited talent on his roster.
Remember, prior to the start of the season, Memphis expected win total was 27-28 games. Morant led them to their 28th victory before the All-Star break. Zion has certainly helped his team get back into playoff contention but he also has an All-Start teammate in Brandon Ingram. Morant has done more with less and to me, he has to be a lock to lift the Rookie of the Year trophy, regardless of what happens when play returns.
Rookies Might Have Some Value Elsewhere
The battle for the 8th seed in the playoffs will be very interesting. There are a few player futures available for Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. Here are the playoff odds available for both players on BetOnline:
|Zion Williamson Over 24.5 Points Per Game (Over & Under are -115)|
|Ja Morant Over 18.5 Points Per Game (Over & Under are -115)|
|Zion Over 7.5 Rebounds Per Game (Over & Under are -115)|
|Ja Morant Over 7 Assists Per Game (Over &Under are -115)|
The most important thing to understand if you do decide to make a bet on one of these options: these are their projected playoff averages. If you wager on one of them and their team doesn’t qualify for the playoffs, you automatically lose your wager. So essentially, you’re not only betting on them to go over or under these projections, but you’re also wagering on them to actually qualify for the playoffs. That’s why for me, I can only look Ja Morant’s way. While I do think that there is a possibility that the Pelicans could catch the Grizzlies, I’ll still ride with the team that has the lead.
While the Pelicans injury problems have been well documented, Memphis has had a lot of injury issues of their own this season. This extended break will have helped both sides and I feel like Memphis will be playing with a chip on their shoulder. By the way, for all of you conspiracy theorists out there that think the NBA would rather have Zion and Brandon Ingram in the playoffs than Ja Morant and crew, I agree with you. I still think that the window is just too small for the Pelicans. They can pull it off for sure but a lot of things have to go right for them.
With that said, I like Ja Morant at under 18.5 points per game in the playoffs. I do think that he is capable of scoring more than that but having watched him play this season, I don’t think that he really cares about scoring a lot of points. When you watch him play, Morant looks like a guy more interested in wins than stats. He doesn’t even take the most shots on his team at 13.6 a game. He is one of three players on the Grizzlies that take at least 13 shots a game and one of four players to take at least 10. He shares the ball with his teammates and I think if anything his assist numbers might go up before his points.
The reason I’m not putting money on his assist totals is because he’s a rookie. You really don’t know how his nerves will respond in the playoffs not to mention, assists are reliant on his teammates making field goals. I like what the Grizzlies have but they aren’t exactly offensive powerhouses either. On top of all of that, the Grizzlies will most likely face the Lakers or Clippers in the first round. Clearly the game plan will be “stop Morant and let someone else beat you” when the playoffs start. I think Morant will make the right basketball play in those situations instead of forcing things which is what most rookies tend to do.
Morant has a maturity in his game that is very impressive for a young player and I think that’s why I think his playoff points per game total remains close to what it was in the regular season which was a shade under (17.9) 18.5 points per game.