Betting Value on the Wolves Over Kings for Tonight's NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Thursday, January 1, 2015 4:08 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015 4:08 PM UTC

The 2014-15 NBA season is already unraveling for both the Sacramento Kings and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Which of these stinky teams should we add to our first basketball picks of the New Year?

Jason’s record as of Dec. 31: 21-20-1 ATS, 1-3 Totals

Who would you rather be heading into 2015: the Sacramento Kings (13-19 SU, 13-17-2 ATS), or the Minnesota Timberwolves (5-25 SU, 11-18-1 ATS)? From a purely basketball perspective, we’ll take the Timberwolves every time. They might have the worst record in the Western Conference by far, but that’s because their best three players are all hurt. Sacramento’s problems run far deeper than that.

Which brings us to Thursday’s matchup (8:00 p.m. ET) at the Tar-Zhay. The Kings opened as 4-point road favorites, but as we go to press, most of our featured online sportsbooks have taken this game off the NBA odds board. That’s because DeMarcus Cousins just threw Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics (+2 at home) to the parquet in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s 106-84 loss. Cousins could face a suspension for his actions – you’ll probably know about his status by the time you read this.


That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore
There’s no question that Cousins (28.6 PER) is an ornery cuss at the best of times. And we certainly don’t condone violence here at the ranch – outside of combat sports and self-defense, that is, and we’re wavering on the combat sports (thanks, CTE). But it’s easy to see why Cousins might be feeling a little frustrated these days: His team is a complete joke.

The hijinks started when Vivek Ranadive bought the Kings from the Maloof family in 2013, after the league rejected a proposed sale (at a higher price) that would have seen the team relocate to Seattle. Ranadive is a forward-thinking businessman and a long-time basketball fan. We’ve said it before: He’s not stupid by any means. But Ranadive botched the redesign of the Kings front office when he hired coach Mike Malone two weeks before hiring GM Pete D’Alessandro.


The Corbinite Maneuver
Make that ex-coach Mike Malone. He was given the heave-ho on Dec. 15, and was replaced by assistant coach Tyrone Corbin, who wasn’t offered a new contract last spring after four seasons with the Utah Jazz. Corbin announced Wednesday that the “interim” tag had been removed from his title; according to reports from Sacramento, this decision had been made a week ago, without anyone’s knowledge – including Cousins.

No wonder he’s steamed. Malone had Sacramento playing good, defensively-sound basketball this year at 9-6 SU and 10-5 ATS before Cousins came down with a case of viral meningitis. But Ranadive wanted the Kings to play up-tempo basketball, and Malone didn’t want to toe the company line. When Sacramento went 2-7 SU and 3-6 ATS in its first nine games without Cousins, the Kings had their pretext to fire Malone. Cousins reportedly found out about it on Twitter.


Sh-Bazz Sh-Bazz
So how have the Kings done under Corbin with Cousins in the lineup? Try 2-4 SU and 0-4-2 ATS. This roster is ill-suited for running and gunning; Cousins is a much better fit in a half-court offense, as is Rudy Gay (20.2 PER), who’s starting to slip into some of the bad shooting habits he exhibited with the Toronto Raptors. On top of that, Ryan Hollins (12.2 PER) has been elevated to the starting lineup at power forward alongside Cousins. Yes, that Ryan Hollins.

We could go on ranting about the Kings – we haven’t even touched on Nik Stauskas (6.5 PER) yet. Just go to the YouTubes and watch the Grantland clip from the Kings war room at the 2014 NBA Draft, you’ll see what all the fuss is about. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves are on a 3-0 ATS mini-streak during this West Coast swing. Shabazz Muhammad (20.9 PER) has turned into a beast at small forward, just as Andrew Wiggins (10.1 PER) has started finding his feet. We’re buying in with our free NBA picks today.

Free NBA Pick: Take the Timberwolves at 5Dimes

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