The Rockets and Wizards top our list for the most undervalued NBA teams post All-Star weekend. Expect both to be on the better side of the number to close out the year. Find out why here.
With roughly 30 games scheduled for each NBA team following the All-Star break, we wanted to uncover which franchise may be the most undervalued against the spread headed into the final stretch of the regular season. The Rockets and Wizards top the list. Here is a look why these two teams may be the most bettor-friendly when cashing our NBA picks in coming weeks:
Houston Rockets (27-28 SU, 21-32-2 ATS)
Oddsmakers caught up to the Rockets unexpected downfall sometime in December. Last season’s Southwest Division champs opened the season with a negative six-point average scoring margin through their first 20 games, up against an average -3 closing line. Houston burned bettors big time, going 5-14-1 ATS. Since then, their scoring margin (0.14) and average closing line (-0.7) is close to equal. They are 17-18-1 ATS in this span. Despite heavy trade rumors swirling around C Dwight Howard, expect the Rockets to flip the script and be on the positive side of betting wins post All-Star break.
SG James Harden and company are going to score many points a night, but defensively something is amiss this year. Last season’s sixth-most efficient unit in the NBA is now the fifth-worst, allowing 106.4 points per 100 possessions. As a result, the Rockets suffer against faster-paced squads generating plenty of looks at the rim. Against teams putting up 85.75 field goal attempts or more on the year, they are 4-11 SU and 2-10-2 ATS. Yielding 48.5 percent shooting from the floor, they give up 112.3 points per game in this situation. Luckily, as things stand now, they are only scheduled to play eight of their final 27 games against teams tossing up this many or more a night.
In the Rockets' other games against those finding fewer looks, lean on last season's conference finalists when playing teams with poor three-point shooting percentages. Part of Houston’s efficiency problems center on its inability to guard downtown. Its 36.2 percent allowed from the zone ranks 21st in the league. When up against slower squads shooting below 35.1 percent (league average) from the three-point arc entering a contest, the Rockets have covered 12-of-21 games versus six in 18 other contests. Opponent three-point percentages are 33.3 for the lesser teams versus 36.9 for better shooting ones, accounting for nearly a four-point difference per game (103.0:106.7). Houston has nine of 19 games remaining against teams under these conditions. Fewer attempts and a less-efficient game from downtown allow Houston’s poor defense to not be as integral to keeping the number close.
Washington Wizards (23-28 SU, 26-25 ATS)
The Wiz are at their best when pushing the pace offensively. Their 97.9 rating ranks only below the Kings, Warriors, and Celtics for quickest in the NBA, and 19.0 fastbreak points per game second-best. In order for the team to flourish offensively, they need to make stops on the other end of the court. This allows them to play the transition game and get behind other teams for efficient scoring chances. Washington is not the best defensively, though, yielding 105 points per 100 possessions. Playing poor shooting teams can be a boon, however.
Against teams shooting below 45 percent from the floor (NBA average), Washington scores 104.4 points per game (106.5 allowed) versus 100.3 (104.0 allowed) against those with a higher mark. The Wizards see 17 of their next 30 games scheduled against teams shooting below the league average. Another bonus is that all but one of these opponents force 15.5 turnovers or more a night, which allows the quick passing Washington offense to operate crisply. The Wiz are 14-6 ATS in this situation and have 16 more penciled in post All-Star weekend. We'll keep a close look on the NBA odds available for them.