What, you actually thought you could go a week without hearing about LeBron James? It's all LeBron all the time in the sports world these days. Here's a look at James' props for the 2014-15 season and Cleveland's wins total with NBA odds from 5Dimes.
55 Ain't Easy
The Cavs have a wins total of 55, with the 'over' at -130 and the 'under' at +100. Needless to say, that would be affected if Cleveland were to acquire Kevin Love from Minnesota. You hear conflicting reports now whether the Cavaliers would include 2014 No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins in any deal. One day it's yes, the next it's no. LeBron rather conspicuously didn't mention Wiggins by name in his now famous open letter on SI.com trumpeting his decision to return to northeast Ohio. He mentioned Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Anderson Varejao but not Wiggins, a potential superstar. Maybe that means nothing. Or maybe James got a promise from Cavs brass that they would try to acquire Love and Wiggins might have to go to do so.
We might not know if Love is headed to Cleveland for a while because the Cavaliers are officially expected to sign Wiggins this week and they can't then trade him for 30 days when it happens. ESPN.com is reporting that the delay in signing Wiggins doesn't have anything to do with the ongoing trade discussions. It's more of how the Cavs want to use their remaining $1.4 million in cap space (Ray Allen?) before officially getting Wiggins' name on a contract. Cleveland's signing of Mike Miller will become official this week too once Wiggins signs.
So as things currently stand, are the Cavaliers are 56-win or more team? It obviously does help them that they play in the much weaker Eastern Conference than the deep West. However, I think the East is better than last year. The division rival Bulls are most certainly going to be better. The Hornets look improved with Lance Stephenson. The Wizards should be better. The Knicks should be better with an upgrade at the point in Jose Calderon and the return of Carmelo Anthony. The Hawks should be better with the return of Al Horford from injury. The Heat still should be pretty good with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Indiana will be a good team despite losing Stephenson -- Rodney Stuckey is a decent fill-in offensively (I fairly predicted that potential signing last week in my Stephenson story). Brooklyn is still pretty good. Ditto Toronto. Detroit will be better just with Stan Van Gundy as coach. OK, the Magic, 76ers and Bucks will stink again, but you get the drift.
A Closer Look at LeBron James
It should be noted that James' Heat won only 54 games last year -- partly due to Wade taking several games off -- and Indiana was the only Eastern team to exceed 55 wins. It's going to take James and his new group time to get adjusted. James' first Heat team started 9-8 in 2010 and that club was better than the 2014-15 Cavaliers.
As for LeBron individually, he is listed with an 'over/under' scoring average of 25 points (over -280 and under +200), 7.0 rebounds (both -120 on NBA odds), and 7 assists (both -120). James is +120 to win his fifth NBA MVP Award and the field is -160.
James averaged 27.1 points, 6.4 assists and 6.9 rebounds a season ago. Adding Love would most likely affect these props because James wouldn't be needed to score or rebound quite as much. Still, James has averaged well north of 25 points every year but his rookie season so 'over' there seems like a lock. I'd go 'under' on the other two. The Cavs have some good rebounders even without Love in Varejao and Thompson. James had to rebound more with Miami because the Heat didn't have much size. I don't believe there's any way James can top 7 assists per game. Cleveland has a great point guard in Irving. He will lead the team in assists, not James. In fact, a decent prop bet for when those are unveiled at sportsbooks for the upcoming season might be on Irving leading the NBA in assists. He averaged only 6.1 last year, but he had to score. Now he doesn't need to focus on that quite as much. Irving will get plenty of easy assists with James on the break.
NBA free picks: So that's 'under' on the wins, assists and rebounds and 'over' on the points. I lean the field on the MVP.