Not everybody in the Western Conference is championship material. But the tankiest teams in the West might be your best NBA betting options from now until the playoffs.
Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to March 3 inclusive:
It didn’t have to be this way. The NBA didn’t have to become a league where so many teams would be trying so hard to lose. But here we are anyway, and while all this tanking might not be so great for basketball purists, it’s an absolute goldmine for NBA betting fans. As we expected going into the 2013-14 season, the pressure on the worst teams to lose has made them pre-eminent fade candidates – except for a certain team in L.A. that hasn’t gotten the memo.
Who knew that you could rebuild and tear down at the same time? The Sacramento Kings (22-39 SU, 27-32-2 ATS) were one of the teams expected to tank this year, and they’re well on their way to yet another high lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. But the Kings transformed their lineup with the trade for Rudy Gay (21.2 PER), who continues to play the best ball of his career with his new teammates. Sacramento went 8-10 SU and 10-8 ATS in Gay’s first month with the club.
Heaven forbid that should last. The Kings are pushing deeper into the red again at 5-7 SU and 4-8 ATS in their last dozen games. And wouldn’t you know it, their next game is Sunday against Gay’s former team, the Toronto Raptors. Sacramento won this matchup whey they met last month, 109-101 as a 1-point home fave; Gay had 24 points and 10 rebounds in that one, as well as four steals. Let’s see what he can do for an encore.
The 2013-14 season started off even worse for the Jazz (21-40 SU, 27-31-3 ATS), who lost their first eight games in a row at 1-6-1 ATS. But the team that many predicted would finish last in the West has failed to be as truly awful as it can be. The Jazz have no fewer than six regular rotation players with a Player Efficiency Rating of 15 or higher, led by one of the better young power forwards in the league in Derrick Favors (18.0 PER).
Fortunately for us, Utah also has Richard Jefferson (11.9 PER). Also, rookie point guard Trey Burke (12.9 PER) has been having a rough go of it in 2014 after showing so much promise in December. The Jazz have lost the first four games of their latest road trip through the East at 1-3 ATS, with stops left to go in New York on Friday and Philadelphia on Saturday. Can Utah possibly out-tank the Sixers? Hard to imagine.
Los Angeles Lakers
Remember when it was easy to fade the Lakers (21-40 SU, 32-28-1 ATS)? I’m talking about when they were winning championships and giving away far too many points on the NBA odds board. Now L.A. is expected to lose every game, and lose badly. It isn’t happening. The Lakers are 5-9 SU and 8-6 ATS in their last 14 games since the start of February. Why won’t they just… stay… down?
Because head coach Mike D’Antoni won’t let them. His curious lineup decisions make me cringe, but D’Antoni’s teams have always been a treat to watch, and we’ve seen quality play this year from unexpected sources – including Kent Bazemore (14.8 PER) and MarShon Brooks (16.9 PER), who came over from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Steve Blake (12.4 PER). Looks like we could be in for a lot more smallball between now and the postseason. In which case, get ready to pound the OVER, which is 5-1 in L.A.’s last six games, all with Bazemore in the starting five.