I’m highlighting the energy guys, the key bench players, the elite matchup defenders and the low post defensive and rebounding studs,the key ‘supporting cast’ members around the superstars.
I wrote an article yesterday about how the superstars are priced when it comes to NBA injuries, talking about the players who move the needle the most for pointspread adjustments when they miss time due to injuries or suspensions. Today, I’m going to highlight a handful of players whose absence isn’t likely to affect any pointspread by more than a half point at most; non superstars.
Yet each and every one of these players is an under-the-radar key to their team’s SU and against the NBA odds success.
LA Clippers: Luc Mbah a Moute
The Clippers have gone 11-4 ATS since Blake Griffin got hurt, while going 9-6 to the Under during that span. How has LA survived and even thrived without their leading scorer, second on the team in both rebounds and assists? Simple: Luc Mbah a Moute! The seventh year pro out of UCLA had been bouncing around the league in recent seasons, playing in Milwaukee, Minnesota, Sacramento and Philly since 2013 before arriving on Doc Rivers squad this past offseason. He doesn’t put up any stats; not a dominant rebounder or shot blocker and a very limited scorer. But make no mistake about it – Mbah a Moute’s impact doesn’t show up in box scores. All he does is play tight, effective low post defense, taking away the paint for opposing scorers. That helps to explain the run of Unders and the Clippers ATS success while Griffin has been sidelined. Mbah a Moute is the poster child for an under-the-radar ATS difference maker; a complete afterthought personnel-wise who puts up no stats yet who has a legitimate impact for his team when he’s on the floor.
Boston Celtics: Jae Crowder
The only guy on the Celtics who the betting markets adjust for is their All Star caliber point guard Isaiah Thomas; their leading scorer and assist man. But if you asked me who the key guy for Brad Stevens squad is after Isaiah, Jae Crowder stands out like a sore thumb. Crowder is an ‘energy’ guy and his teammates consistently feed off his relentless motor. Crowder’s defense is relentless, leading the team in steals while shutting down opposing wings. He’s a ferocious rebounder and an excellent three point shooter, just like he was at Marquette; a rare ‘impact’ NBA draft second rounder. Crowder hasn’t missed a game all year, but if/when he does, it’s an absence to be aware of, even if the betting markets are asleep at the wheel.
Denver Nuggets: Will Barton
Denver is going through a rebuilding season in their first year under head coach Mike Malone, an extremely young ballclub. Rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay has no collegiate experience and his backcourt running mate Gary Harris is only in his second season in the league, his first as a starter. Leading scorer Danilo Gallinari is always dealing with injuries and he’s been a terrible shooter, hitting less than 41% from the floor this year. That makes Will Barton’s contributions that much more important, instant offense and rebounding off the bench. Barton ranks second on the team in both scoring and rebounding, a rarity for a non-starting ‘role’ player. And there’s no question that Denver, as a team, feeds off his energy. Barton, like Crowder above, hasn’t missed a game yet this year, but if/when he does, we can expect the markets to underadjust to his absence.
New York Knicks: Langston Galloway
The emphasis here is on defense and energy, two things Galloway brings every single night. The betting markets go nuts every time Carmelo Anthony misses a game for New York even though they are a .500 team ATS without him in the lineup. But Galloway is a complete afterthought despite the fact that he’s the ultimate ‘glue guy’, a teammate who everyone seems to respect both on and off the floor. Galloway’s statistical profile doesn’t wow anybody, but watch the Knicks feed off his energy tonight in Toronto with ‘Melo expected to sit and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about!