NBA Pick for Nuggets vs. Grizzlies Depends on Conley as Market Generally Undervalues Bench Strength

Jason Lake

Thursday, January 29, 2015 1:55 PM GMT

The Nuggets snapped their seven-game losing streak Wednesday night in the Big Easy. Next up: the Grizzlies, who have won eight of nine. But the NBA odds are waiting on Mike Conley’s status.

Jason’s record as of Jan. 27: 25-25-3 ATS, 2-4 Totals

 

Could the Denver Nuggets be on another one of their hot streaks? They’ve covered three straight games now, after downing the New Orleans Pelicans 93-85 as 6-point road dogs on Wednesday’s NBA odds board. Denver hit 10 of 17 trey attempts and dished out 30 assists; of the 10 Nuggets players who saw action, the only one without an assist was center Jusuf Nurkic, who was too busy scoring 15 points with nine rebounds and a pair of blocks.

It’s beautiful basketball when it works. But the Nuggets have been running hot and cold all year, and most of the time, it’s been cold (19-27 SU, 19-24-3 ATS). We’ll see if they can keep cashing in when they visit the Memphis Grizzlies (33-12 SU, 22-21-2 ATS) Thursday night in the first game of the TNT doubleheader. The basketball odds are on hold as we await the status of Grizzlies PG Mike Conley, who suffered a sprained left wrist last Sunday.

 

JaVale Colorado
A couple of weeks ago, we took a moment to look at the Nuggets, who were on a five-game winning streak. Would Nurkic (19.6 PER at the time) prevent his team from falling back down into the mire? Nope. Denver immediately lost its next seven games at 2-4-1 ATS, as Nurkic’s Player Efficiency Rating fell to 16.5.

Pinning your hopes and dreams on a 20-year-old rookie center can do that to your bankroll. Nurkic had some very good games in early January, including a pair of double-doubles to start the New Year. But the big Bosnian has tailed off since then – possibly because of a sore back that has limited his minutes along with his production levels.

No sweat. Here comes JaVale McGee, who’s expected to return to action any day now. There was some thought McGee (17.3 PER) might play Wednesday against New Orleans after missing 23 games with a strained left tibia. But McGee was kept on the shelf for at least one more day. Reports suggest he’ll be in action Thursday night (8:00 p.m. ET) to give Nurkic some support.

 

The Beno and Nick Show
If only we had something that quasi-definitive on Conley (20.1 PER). He missed Tuesday’s 109-90 victory over the Dallas Mavericks; Beno Udrih (17.3 PER) and Nick Calathes (13.0 PER) picked up the slack with a combined 21 points and seven assists, and the Grizz sank 10 of their 21 trey attempts to cash in as 6-point road dogs.

It’s testament to the depth of the Grizzlies bench that they can bulldoze a team as good as Dallas without missing a beat. Udrih has revived his career as a dependable reserve since escaping the tire fire (hello Tumblr~!) that is the New York Knicks and signing with Memphis as a free agent last February. And Calathes has worked his way back into the rotation after a slow start.

 

A Snubbery
Memphis might be a better basketball pick if Conley were to sit out Thursday, just because of how the market generally undervalues bench strength. Mind you, it’s not like Conley’s the type of guy who attracts casual bettors. He’s one of the most underrated players in the game; Conley (20.0 PER last year) was snubbed for the All-Star team last year in the Western Conference. He probably won’t make it this year either, although it can hardly be considered a snub again the way the West is dripping with point guards.

We’ll let the numbers speak for themselves. Conley was fifth among all Western guards last year with a 10.24 WAR. This year, he’s 12th so far at 4.43 WAR. Denver’s Ty Lawson (19.3 PER) is ahead of Conley at 5.23 PER. So we’re going to make another one of our conditional NBA picks this time around: If Conley doesn’t play, we’re on Memphis.

Free NBA Pick: Take the Grizzlies (If Conley doesn’t play) at BetOnline