Basketball season is finally here! The NBA season tips off with three game on Tuesday night. Let's take a last look at some futures and NBA picks on the eve of the season.
Coach Of The Year
At William Hill, Golden State's Steve Kerr is the +400 favorite but I don't like Kerr at all for this award. Has nothing to do with his coaching obviously as the Warriors won a league-high 67 games in 2014-15 in Kerr's first season in arguably the best all-around regular-season performance since Michael Jordan's Bulls were rampaging through the NBA. Yet Kerr didn't even win this award. He finished a close second to Atlanta's Mike Budenholzer, who led the Hawks to a franchise-record 60 wins -- remember, all these types of awards are for the regular season only and votes are in before the playoffs. Atlanta won just 38 games the year before. The Hawks opened the season 5-5 before winning 35 of their next 38 games, a stretch that included a franchise-record 19-game winning streak. The 35-3 run also featured a 17-0 January, the best calendar month in NBA history. Atlanta's starting five was collectively named NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month and Budenholzer got his second NBA Eastern Conference Coach of the Month Award. Budenholzer is +2200 to repeat and you just don't do that with this award. Why don't I think Kerr should be favored? Golden State isn't winning 67 games again and Kerr won't even open the season with the team. He's coming off back surgery that featured some complications. It's not clear when Kerr will be able to resume his duties although he will be in Oakland on Tuesday to get his championship ring. Luke Walton is the team's interim coach.
NBA Pick: I like Oklahoma City's Billy Donovan at +800. The Thunder missed the playoffs with 45 wins last year because Kevin Durant played only 27 games. He's healthy now and looked great in the preseason. I expect the Thunder to perhaps win 60 games this season and Donovan, the first-year coach from Florida, will get a lot of credit for that. Every winner of this award was in charge of a team that won at least 50 games since Sam Mitchell won it in 2006-07 when Toronto won 47.
Most Regular-Season Double-Doubles
Can't say I've seen this prop before but I like it. You obviously need to go with a big man here because plenty of guys average double-figure points and rebounds each season but very few these days average double-figure points and assists. Only two players averaged at least 10 assists a game in 2014-15, the Clippers' Chris Paul (10.2) and Wizards' John Wall (10.0). Chicago's Pau Gasol led the NBA with 54 double-doubles last year in 78 games. He's +1600 at Ladbrokes NBA odds to repeat. I don't think that's likely as Gasol is 35 years old and likely sees his minutes cut this year as the Bulls have a lot of frontcourt depth. Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins is the +300 favorite. "Boogie" was third in the NBA last year with 47 double-doubles despite playing in only 59 games due to injury/illness. As long as he gets along with Coach George Karl, Cousins should be a double-double machine. Detroit's Andre Drummond (+350) and the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan (+600) round out the favorites.
NBA Pick: Go with Cousins barely over Anthony Davis (+800).
Defensive Player Of The Year
In a moderate surprise, San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard won this in 2014-15. Not that Leonard isn't a great defensive player because he is. But he also played in just 64 games last year. Leonard was the first Spurs player to win it since David Robinson in 1991-92. The 6-foot-7 Leonard averaged career highs of 2.31 steals and 5.9 defensive rebounds. A lot of people thought it should have gone last year to Golden State's Draymond Green, who finished second in the voting. Generally, this award has been going to big men who block shots and rebound. That was another reason Leonard was surprise. From 2004-05 through the 2013-14 season, the award went to either a center or power forward. The Ladbrokes favorite on NBA picks this season is Utah center Rudy Gobert at +350. The Jazz were a defensive dynamo last season after they traded Enes Kanter to Oklahoma City and started giving heavy minutes to the 7-foot-1 Frenchman Gobert. Overall, he averaged 6.2 defensive rebounds and 2.3 blocks. After the All-Star Break, those numbers were 9.2 and 2.6, respectively. Leonard and the Pelicans' Davis are +500 second-favorites.
NBA Pick: The Clippers' Jordan at +600. He was third in last year's voting.