Offense has been the name of the game in the NBA, and scoring has become king. Offenses have never been more efficient and scoring is once again on the rise.
But there are still two facets of the game that remain incredibly important – rebounding and passing – that will have individual leaders at season’s end. Here’s our favorite picks for NBA betting fans to consider on who might lead each category, beginning with cleaning the class.
The last players to win the rebounding title three times in four years were Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett and Dennis Rodman. That’s 3-for-3 on Hall of Famers. Moses Malone and Wilt Chamberlain also did it.
So Drummond, who won it in 2016 and 2018, could join elite company. There’s reason to believe he will. He outpaced DeAndre Jordan by nearly a full board per game (16.0 vs. 15.2) last year and third place (Howard; 12.7) wasn’t even close.
And don’t worry about Blake Griffin being there; after the Griffin trade in February, Drummond averaged 17.0 boards per game, more than the 15.4 he averaged before the trade. He’s the prohibitive favorite at -134, and for good reason.
There’s precedent here for DeAndre Jordan to have a shot at winning a rebounding title. He’s done it twice before, in 2014 and 2015, and has finished in the top three each of the last five years.
He now joins a Dallas team that was 27th in the league in rebounds last season. Put another way: The Mavericks aren’t exactly a team full of Dennis Rodmans. Jordan is going to scoop up boards every night. Then consider he’s back playing in his hometown and is entering a contract year.
All signs are pointing toward him having a monster year, especially on the glass. He’s our favorite bet at 3-1.
Here are the last players to average 12 rebounds per game twice before they turned 23 years old: Towns, Andre Drummond, Dwight Howard, Shaquille O’Neal, Buck Williams and Moses Malone. That’s 13 rebounding titles between them all, and Towns could be next.
We all know Tom Thibodeau is going to play Towns until his legs fall off, and that means more opportunities for rebounds. Towns was fourth in rebounds per game but 10th in rebounds per 48 minutes. But we don’t mind if the boards keep piling up (and he stays healthy). Keep playing him, Thibs, and maybe he’ll pay off. He’s a great bet at 11-1.
Now let’s get in to the dimes.
There have been four different assist champions the last four seasons. Will Simmons make it five in five? He was electric as a rookie, becoming the first rook since 2012 (Ricky Rubio) to surpass eight assists per game. And consider that Simmons did that while his buddy Joel Embiid missed 18 games.
If Embiid hovers anywhere around 75 games this season, Simmons’ assist numbers will boom. After a Rookie of the Year campaign, the sky’s the limit for the 6-foot-10 point guard.
He isn’t the most efficient passer, and sometimes his decision making is questionable, but the sheer volume of Westbrook’s passing makes him a strong candidate to go back-to-back. His usage rates are through the roof, and even with Dennis Schroder backing him up this season, it won’t affect his bottom line.
Paul George is back and should finish off potential Westbrook dimes, and Westbrook will continue to be among the league leaders in minutes per game. That means more passes and more assists. He’s a volume monster and there’s good reason he’s the favorite at +175.
Let’s not forget about just how good John Wall is. He is sixth all-time in NBA history in assists per game (9.25). Seriously. Read that sentence again. He hasn’t won an assist title yet but averaged 10.0 assists each of the last three seasons before injuries cost him 41 games a year ago.
Now he’s healthy, Bradley Beal continues to improve, and the lob specialist Dwight Howard is signed in Washington. That’s good for at least an additional dime per game. If Wall comes back with a vengeance he has a real shot to lead the league in assists in a weak East. He’s our favorite at +225.
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