No sport sees as much year-to-year roster turnover as the NBA, but there are still trends we can take from the previous season when considering the best teams against the spread.
Here’s a look at the seven best teams against the spread (ATS) last season and why they may repeat their record this upcoming season.
No love north of the border. Once again. The Raptors have been a stellar organization the past five seasons, so it’s not as if they’ve overachieved in averaging 52.6 wins in that span.
But consider that they’ve been ranked in the top-nine in the NBA against the spread four of the last five seasons, and their over-under win total has gone over in each of those four instances. They seemingly outperform expectations that oddsmakers put on them every season.
They’ll likely be looked down upon this following season as sportsbooks try to figure out Kawhi Leonard’s health and how quickly he’ll integrate to a new franchise. Plus, the team needs to adjust to a new head coach in Nick Nurse.
The West’s version of the Raptors. The Blazers have ranked in the top-nine against the spread three of the last five seasons, thanks in part to a solid homecourt advantage and the continuing durability of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.And yet, they continue to be overlooked. In fact, oddsmakers have essentially the same roster from a year ago declining from 49 wins to 42.5 wins. They’re easily one of our favorite over win total picks favorite win total picks and, if that total is any indication, they’ll likely go under the radar when it comes to nightly point spreads.
Maybe it’s that they’re on the West Coast, or that they’re so dependent on their backcourt, but Portland is a sure bet to rank near the top of the league against the spread once again this year.
When Anthony Davis stays healthy, good things happen.
The Pelicans were one of those teams to make a “jump” from good to very good in 2018, winning 48 games – eight over their sportsbook over-under win total – and advancing to the second round of the playoffs.
Like the Sixers, they’re under the category of Just How Good Can This Team Be? With Davis, Jrue Holiday, Julius Randle and Nikola Mirotic in the fold, they could take their game to yet another level.
Will sportsbooks be ready for it? If Davis becomes an MVP candidate – like we think he will – the Pelicans could surprise yet again.
The only team that finished the year with a losing record, the Nets were still competitive as far as the point spread was concerned.
Surprise contributors such as Spencer Dinwiddie, D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen kept them close in a handful of games. But oddsmakers didn’t take that into consideration, and it’s hard to blame them considering the Nets had won 41 combined games the last two seasons.
But below the surface it was clear the kids were growing up some, and also that a handful of other teams were actively tanking. Brooklyn’s roster is largely the same from a year ago – the Celtics are finally out of Nets draft picks – but the youngsters should make another jump toward competitiveness.
Their reputation of losing is still lingering, so maybe they’ll surprise again.
The Pacers were supposed to stink. Then they won eight games in November, seven in December, 10 in January and became a legitimate force in the East.
Like most teams on this list, their success was sneaky. Victor Oladipo went from afterthought in Oklahoma City to the league’s Most Improved Player, Darren Collison rejuvenated his career and Bojan Bogdanovic was efficient and durable all year.
They wound up winning 48 games, a whopping 18 victories over their over-under win total, and Nate McMillan was rewarded with an extension. No one will be sleeping on the Pacers now after their stellar offseason, but if sportsbooks underestimate just how good it was they could have value once again against the spread.
Trust the process and trust the point spread. That was the mantra for the Sixers last season after they won 52 games, including 16 straight to end the regular season, and were second best in the league against the spread.
And we shouldn’t expect much regression. Oddsmakers are going to trust the process, but they may be overlooking again just how good this young core can be.
Markelle Fultz is an unknown after a lost rookie season, and Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are both legitimate MVP candidates. The East is also worse than it was a year ago, so Philadelphia might take out its playoff frustrations from last season and rack up plenty of blowouts, thus covering more often than not.
This is a young team that could exceed expectations yet again.
Oddsmakers were scared off by the Celtics, and for good reason. Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome ankle injury five minutes into the regular season, Kyrie Irving missed 22 games and three of their six leading scorers were 23 or younger.
But if there’s a coach in this league not to doubt, it’s Brad Stevens. He kept his team together after the Hayward injury, turned his young rotation players into budding stars and shocked the league by earning the East’s best record.
Now healthy and the East favorites, it’s scary to think what Stevens will accomplish. He’ll likely overachieve once again against the spread with his full roster intact.
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