Christmas Value for L.A. Lakers vs. Timberwolves on NBA Picks?

Jason Lake

Monday, December 25, 2017 1:28 PM UTC

Monday, Dec. 25, 2017 1:28 PM UTC

The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t used to be a value NBA pick, but they’ve got a good situation coming up Christmas Night against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles LakersFree NBA Pick: Lakers +5Best Line Offered: Heritage

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Making sharp NBA picks used to be easy: Just fade the Los Angeles Lakers. They were one of the most overvalued teams in all of sports, with a local fanbase awash in loose money and a giant footprint in national and international media. Now the Lakers are in Year 5 of their Dark Ages at 11-20 SU and 16-15 ATS, and they’re No. 23 on the public money charts at press time.

They won’t get any sympathy from the Minnesota Timberwolves. It took Minnesota 12 straight losing seasons to get to where they are today, on top of the Northwest Division at 20-13 SU and 14-17-2 ATS. The Wolves are 5-point road faves on the NBA odds board for their Christmas nightcap (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT) at Staples Center, up from –3.5 at the open. Let’s dig deep, peel back the layers, and get to know the real story behind the NBA lines.

Ball and Biscuit

There’s been a lot more interest in betting on the Wolves since they added Jimmy Butler (plus-3.4 BPM) in the offseason, putting them sixth overall on the public money charts, and the results have definitely been there for Minnesota – but they’re not quite as good as advertised. Butler isn’t performing as well as he did with the Chicago Bulls, and the Wolves have a Pythagorean record of 19-14, one game worse than their actual record.

The Lakers are obviously experiencing some growing pains with their latest re-boot. However, their 12-19 Pythagorean record points to a higher level of performance than the market might expect. And this team should only get better as players like Lonzo Ball (plus-0.3 BPM) and Kyle Kuzma (minus-0.1 BPM) figure things out. FiveThirtyEight even has L.A. projected as only a 1.5-point dog for Xmas Day, using their CARMELO formula.

Unfortunately for L.A. supporters, Ball will miss Monday’s game with a sprained left shoulder. But Kuzma has been a revelation for the Lakers at power forward. He’s played well enough to keep Larry Nance Jr. (plus-3.2 BPM) coming off the bench, which is fine; Kuzma brings the offense, scoring 20.1 points per 36 minutes, while Nance is one of their most gifted defensive players. Los Angeles is 3-5 SU and 6-2 ATS over the past eight games, and Jordan Clarkson (minus-1.3 BPM) is certainly capable of running the point in Ball’s absence. We’ll buy that for a dollar.

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