LeBron James’ decision to move to the Western Conference and join the Los Angeles Lakers should prove to shake up the landscape of the NBA as well as NBA betting markets, if not this year than in the near future.
And that could mean some new names and faces in the postseason. You know the Warriors, Rockets, Celtics, 76ers, Raptors and Thunder will be playing past Game No. 82.
But there are some other unknowns that have solid odds at the top bookmakers. Here are our favorite value picks on teams to make or not make the postseason.
Our favorite value bet of the 30 teams listed on Karamba. Not only did Anthony Davis and the Pelicans taste the playoffs for the first time in three seasons a year ago, they also enjoyed a first-round sweep.
They swapped DeMarcus Cousins (Warriors) for Julius Randle, and Rajon Rondo (Lakers) for Elfrid Payton. Those are both downgrades, but this is still a 48-win team that has an MVP candidate in Davis, a stellar Sixth Man in Nikola Mirotic and the most underrated guard in the league in Jrue Holiday.
Davis has bucked the “injury-prone” label with back-to-back 75-game campaigns and looks poised to bring the Pelicans back to the postseason. The West is wildly deep, and the Lakers only add to that, but their inclusion won’t come at New Orleans’ expense.
They’re a safe – and our favorite – play to make it to the second season. Bet New Orleans to make the playoffs at -205 at Karamba.
The Nuggets and Lakers are expected to contend for playoff spots, meaning two West teams from last year’s postseason will be bumped out.
And after a 49-win campaign, the Blazers still can’t get any love. Oddsmakers have pegged them, a team that brings back their core, to go from third in the West to the Lottery. We just don’t see it happening (San Antonio and Minnesota could be on their way out).
As long as Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are standing the Blazers will be in the playoff mix. The X-factor here is a deeper bench that showed plenty of potential during the Las Vegas Summer League.
If their young guns contribute, they should have no problem making the postseason. They won’t finish third again, but they won’t be ninth, either.
Take the +110 odds on Karamba for them to make it and run with this dynamite backcourt.
Now we’re getting into the value portion of the show. The Knicks were right in the playoff hunt until Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL in February.
They had a busy offseason, drafting two promising rookies in Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, trading for Emmanuel Mudiay and signing Mario Hezonja.
OK, so the Warriors aren’t going to be game-planning for them in June, but the East isn’t exactly flush with talent past the top five or six teams.
There are two playoff spots up for grabs, and if Porzingis comes back healthy and Knox can make a Donovan Mitchell-like impact, the Knicks could flirt with the postseason. And you can’t look past their hire of David Fizdale. He should inject even more life into this young bunch (and Joakim Noah).
They’re great value at +325 to make it, though monitoring Porzingis’ rehab is a good idea.
The Wizards made the postseason a year ago despite John Wall missing 41 regular-season games. But also consider that their other eight leading scorers all played in at least 73 games.
Aside from Wall (admittedly a large “aside”), they were incredibly healthy. They’ve brought in Austin Rivers and Dwight Howard, the latter of whom hasn’t exactly had great successes in new locations. One big injury almost cost Washington the postseason a year ago.
A string of them this season could spell doom. While we can’t be expecting injuries to happen, oddsmakers seem a little overconfident in a team that won 43 games a year ago. Their +700 odds to miss the postseason are pretty solid value, just in case a worst-case scenario happens.
LeBron James is gone, and the last time this happened in Cleveland the results were abysmal. But LeBron also left the first time around because the Cavaliers couldn’t surround him with talent, so there was none remaining when he left.
That wasn’t the case this past summer. Kevin Love has put together back-to-back All-Star campaigns, rookie Collin Sexton looked impressive in the Summer League, and veterans such as J.R. Smith, George Hill, Tristan Thompson and Kyle Korver are still around.
Add a few young pieces like Larry Nance, Cedi Osman and Jordan Clarkson, and you’re probably looking at a top-8 seed in an ugly East. They could also choose to bring back Rodney Hood.
All their tradeable assets are all under contract for two more seasons, so it’s not as if they can really be dealers at the trade deadline. That means they’ll be playing to win, and we’ll bet at +280 odds at Karamba on them sneaking in.
Just kidding. Save your money, but if you want to cheer against them they’re +2625 on Karamba to miss the postseason smack dab in the middle of their dynasty.