Become a better basketball bettor with these tips from a handicapper analyzing the NBA preseason. There are a few things from the games that don't count that also won't translate to the regular season on NBA odds.
No Player Will Shoot 70 Percent from Field
The NBA record for shooting percentage in a season is an amazing .727 by Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain in the 1972-73 campaign with the Los Angeles Lakers. What makes that number even more amazing is that it was the 36-year-old Wilt's final NBA season. He only took an average of 7.1 shots per game, easily a career low, and averaged just 13.2 points per game, also a career worst.
The closest an NBA player other than Chamberlain has come to reaching 70 percent shooting from the field was the Knicks' Tyson Chandler at .6789 in 2011-12. Last year, the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan led the league at .6757 in his best season.
Entering Wednesday's preseason action, Jordan leads the NBA preseason in shooting percentage at 74.2, hitting 23 of 31 field goals. Golden State's David Lee isn't far behind, hitting 36 of 50 shots for 72 percent. Jordan or Lee isn't going to reach 70 percent, forget about that. However, Jordan could easily repeat as the rebounding king. He is the +200 co-favorite with Detroit's Andre Drummond at BetOnline's NBA odds. Drummond currently leads the NBA preseason in rebounding at 11.0 per game. Jordan is also a +250 second-favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year behind Chicago's Joakim Noah (+150), the reigning winner of that award.
No Cavalier Will Win NBA Scoring Title
The preseason favorite to win the scoring title at sportsbooks was Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, but that prop is off the board at many books right now with the uncertainty of when Durant will return from surgery on his broken foot. He recently said he wasn't going to rush back.
Entering Wednesday, Cleveland's Kyrie Irving leads the NBA in preseason scoring at 22.3 points per game. That includes a matchup against Israel's Tel Aviv Maccabi. LeBron James is averaging just 15.0 points per game, but James also has played more than 26 minutes only once. The Cavaliers very well could lead the NBA in scoring as they are going to be dynamic offensively with Irving, James, Kevin Love an Dion Waters all capable of big offensive nights.
Coach David Blatt, who is the second favorite at sportsbooks to win NBA Coach of the Year, is considered an offensive innovator. However, there are only so many shots to go around. So James, Irving or Love isn't going to lead the NBA in scoring. You can be sure that James won't be at 15.0 points per game, either. The Cavs could have three 20-point scorers, which is rare.
The Los Angeles Clippers Will Not Miss Playoffs
The Clippers are +900 on BetOnline's NBA odds to win the NBA title, +450 to win the Western Conference and -180 favorites to take the Pacific Division again. Yet there Los Angeles is at the bottom of the West's preseason standings at 1-5 and with a terrible points differential of minus-10.2.
Time to worry? No. Just like in every major American sports league, preseason records mean nothing. The champion San Antonio Spurs were 3-4 last preseason. The New Orleans Pelicans, who missed the playoffs, led the West with a 7-1 mark. The Indiana Pacers, who led the Eastern Conference in wins, were just 2-5.
Coach Doc Rivers is bringing the Clippers along slowly. Blake Griffin is among the preseason scoring leaders and Chris Paul leads in assists. So all good there. Paul is the -150 favorite to win the assist title at BetOnline's NBA odds. The defense has been a little shaky thus far -- the Warriors put up 125 on the Clippers on Tuesday night -- but that comes with repetition. The Clippers have been outrebounded in every game, but once Jordan and Griffin are in full game shape that won't be a worry.
As of right now, I'm inclined to place a NBA pick on the Clippers to reach the NBA Finals. They could finish with the best record in the West. The Spurs will rest their veterans during the regular season and not worry about playoff seeding. The Thunder don't seem a threat for the top seed minus Durant for perhaps two months.