Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to February 27 inclusive:
Being a fringe NBA player has its benefits. This is the time of year that non-contending teams are more than happy to buy out their less productive veterans, who are then free to sign with contending teams. There are also plenty of “street” free agents out there who are willing to sign at a deep discount – provided they’re getting another shot at a championship ring.
So who will be this year’s P.J. Brown? Names like Danny Granger, Glen Davis, Metta World Peace and Earl Clark have been thrown about lately. Expect this to become an annual tradition thanks to the new CBA, which encourages franchises to build their rosters using a “stars and scrubs” approach rather than pay mid-level money for mid-level talent. You might even see some of these scrubs in action for one or more of the six teams in our latest NBA Picks of the Day.
Utah at Cleveland (7:30 p.m. ET)
Apparently the Cavaliers (23-36 SU, 27-32 ATS) got the message. They’re 7-3 SU and 8-2 ATS since Chris Grant was fired as GM and replaced by David Griffin. Correlation doesn’t equal causation, but Griffin did put his own stamp on the team when he traded Clark (8.8 PER), Henry Sims (10.8 PER) and draft picks to the Philadelphia 76ers for Spencer Hawes (15.5 PER). Luol Deng (15.8 PER) has also started to play better since his sore Achilles got some time to heal during the All-Star break. Even slow-starting rookie Anthony Bennett (6.3 PER) has shown progress this past month.
While Cleveland scrambles for a playoff position, the Jazz (21-36 SU, 26-28-3 ATS) have steered away from the Tank Brigade for now. They’re on another one of their “hot” streaks at 5-3 SU and ATS in their last eight games. Having a full roster has helped out tremendously. So has playing so many games at home. Since both teams have been beating the NBA spreads, let’s hit the UNDER instead. It’s 19-10 for the Cavs this year at home, and 16-11 for Utah on the road.
NBA Pick: Take UNDER 193.5 at JustBet
Charlotte at San Antonio (8:30 p.m. ET)
How ‘bout them Cats (27-30 SU, 32-22-3 ATS)? They’ve got a pretty good thing going in the paint between Al Jefferson (21.9 PER) and Josh McRoberts (13.9 PER), a stretch-4 who’s hitting 38.7 percent from downtown and dishing 4.8 assists per 36 minutes. That frontcourt duo is supported by Bismack Biyombo (13.6 PER) and his 12.3 rebounds/36, plus rookie Cody Zeller (10.5 PER), who’s also stepped it up this month after some early struggles. Whatever happened to patience, anyway?
The Spurs (41-16 SU, 27-20 ATS) are finally home after that ridiculous Rodeo Trip that saw them go 6-3 SU and 5-4 ATS over the course of three weeks. They’ve got nearly all their injured players back; the only exception is Tony Parker (19.7 PER), who’s still on the shelf with assorted injuries. San Antonio is doing just fine for now with Cory Joseph (14.2 PER) and Patty Mills (18.9 PER) running the point. The NBA lines are pending as we go to press, but I’ll recommend the Bobcats at 17-9-2 ATS on the road over the Spurs, who are 10-17 ATS at home.
NBA Pick: Take the Bobcats
New Orleans at Phoenix (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
The Suns (33-24 SU, 36-20-1 ATS) are on a three-game ATS slide, but they hope to have Goran Dragic (22.4 PER) back in the lineup on Friday after missing five games with a gimpy ankle. Will he play? Meanwhile, the Pelicans (23-34 SU, 24-29-4 ATS) aren’t sure if Anthony Davis (26.3 PER) will be ready to go after he sprained his left shoulder on Wednesday. Looks like another good place to defer and bet on the UNDER, which is 4-1 in the past five games for each team.
NBA Pick: Take the UNDER