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Quarter-Season Review of the NBA + Betting Tips
The NBA season went past its quarter-mark last week and with each team playing about 24 games, it is a decent enough sample size to have an evaluation on their performances and what the near future might hold. For this review, we’ve ranked teams in six different tiers; Tier 1 Contenders, Tier 2 Contenders, teams that are One Trade Away From Contending, teams who have shown The Future Is Bright for them, the worst category – “Stuck In NBA Purgatory” and the final tier, the Victor Wembanyama Sweepstakes.
Teams aren’t solely judged on their Win-Loss records in this review, if they were, we would just look at the NBA Standings. Teams are instead judged on a combination that, their improvement or decline from last season, roster construction, health and some more factors we’ll go into.
Before we delve into the review, be sure to check out our NBA Regular Season Daily Specials presented by BetKing. This page gets updated daily with fantastic offers on the NBA games scheduled for the day, and you can take advantage of them. Be sure to have the page bookmarked.
Tier 1 Contenders
- Boston Celtics
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Phoenix Suns
As the name of the tier suggests, these are the best of the best and teams you should feel confident betting on. They’ve carried on their forms from last season and currently have the three best records in the league. For the Boston Celtics, they have not one but two players in the top 10 of the KIA MVP race; Jayson Tatum (1) & Jaylen Brown (10) both of whom are combining for a league high 57.5PPG. With an off-season that included the suspension of their Head Coach, Ime Udoka, many presumed that the 2022 finalists would have a hard time bouncing back. Instead, a switch in styles, a cleanup of their postseason problems (turnovers & half-court offense) and further additions to an already deep roster has seen them go from having one of the best defenses in NBA history last season to one of the best offenses in NBA history this season. Their defense hasn’t been as good as it was last season (they’ve dropped from 1st to 15th) but with Robert Williams III, arguably their best defender, set to return from a 4-month injury in a few weeks, they could get even better.
- Bet on the Boston Celtics to win the NBA Championship @4.75
- Bet on Jayson Tatum to win the MVP Award @3.60
The Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns aren’t far off from the Celtics. Two-time MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks) and Devin Booker (Suns) are also in the top 10 in the MVP race and have led their respective teams to impressive starts. For the Bucks (the second best defensive team in the NBA), in addition to Giannis’ form, they have recently welcomed Khris Middleton back from an injury sustained in the first round of the playoffs against the Chicago Bulls. In his absence, they have been borderline unstoppable with Brook Lopez having one of his best seasons of his career and his return is sure to boost their offense, which currently ranks 21st. They also Joe Ingles – a 40% career 3pt-shooter – waiting to return.
The Suns deserve a lot of praise for the season they’re having, perhaps more than the others. Chris Paul has only played 10 games this season due to a hamstring injury, Cam Johnson has played just 8 games due to a torn meniscus, and he was brought in to replace Jae Crowder who has refused to play this season as he awaits the approval of his trade request. On top of that, the team is about to be sold after the owner Robert Sarver was forced to do so following an investigation that uncovered his years of racism and misogyny in the organization. Given all that, it’s a miracle how this team is able to perform at such a high level and Devin Booker as well as Head Coach, Monty Williams, deserve special praise.
Tier 2 Contenders
- Golden State Warriors
- Denver Nuggets
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Philadelphia 76ers
These are the teams with title aspirations but with little asterisks currently haunting them and could be a problem down the line. The reigning champions, Golden State Warriors, have been atrocious on the road where they’ve only won two games and lost ten – the second-worst record in the league behind the Orlando Magic. Klay Thompson is struggling to get back to his old self, which is understandable after missing two seasons and their attempt to integrate their young players hasn’t been going well, but – and this is a big but – they have Steph Curry; the greatest shooter the good Lord has ever created. He’s currently having the best statistical season of his career (yes, better than his unanimous MVP season). Despite their non-flattering away record, the Warriors’ starting five of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green & Kevon Looney have the best points differential in the league (125 points), almost double that of the second-best team.
The Denver Nuggets’ asterisk is a mixture of poor defense and a lack of depth, and that has proven to be a problem for them in recent playoffs. Their offense is ranked 5th in the league, while their defense is ranked 26th. Their bench is ranked 28th and put all that together, you have a team that will have problems down the road if these issues aren’t addressed. There’s only so much the reigning back-to-back MVP, Nikola Jokić, can do.
The Memphis Grizzlies and the Philadelphia 76ers have both had health challenges early on, but there are signs that if they overcome that, they could be a force, as expected. The 76ers have had injuries to Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and James Harden, three of their best players. They still have to work on their chemistry together, but with the 4th ranked defense in the league despite those injuries, there’s a lot to be positive about. The Grizzlies and Ja Morant got to the Conference Finals last season and have looked good this season. They’re an exciting team to watch and feel a lot like the Celtics from the Pre-Bubble & Bubble years. A little bit more maturity or veteran presence in the team, and they could hang with the best.
One Trade Away From Contending
- Dallas Mavericks
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Miami Heat
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Toronto Raptors
- Atlanta Hawks
- Brooklyn Nets
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Los Angeles Clippers
This tier has the most teams in it, and rightly so. They’re all capable of contending for a title, but can’t do so as currently constructed. You can make a valid argument that a few of them should be in Tier 2, and you would be right. But, while they might get good results as they currently are, they’re just not on the level of the teams in Tier 1. Like the Celtics showed last season, one good trade – not necessarily a big name trade – could spark the change needed in a sleeping giant. For them, it was getting rid of Dennis Schröder & Enes Freedom and acquiring Daniel Theis & Derrick White. Alongside Tier 1 and Tier 2 teams, they are teams you can bet on, but, cautiously.
Led by Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, the New Orleans Pelicans have the second-best record in the West and have one of the deepest rosters in the league. Yet, the eye test says they lack a certain Je ne sais quoi to have them as top contenders. They’re not far off, though. The Cleveland Cavaliers and MVP candidate, Donovan Mitchell, are the same. They’ve beaten the Celtics twice already this season which says a lot about their quality, but then they’ve equally lost two games apiece to the Bucks and the Raptors which is puzzling. Speaking of the Toronto Raptors, OG Anunoby is having a monster season and leads the league in Steals per game (2.3). He’s an strong contender for the Defensive Player of the Year award early into the season and alongside Pascal Siakam, you can bet they’ll be in the playoffs/play-in. Yet, we can all agree that as presently constructed, their ceiling is a getting to the conference semifinals.
Anfernee Simons is one of the most improved players in the league and the Portland Trail Blazers can confidently say they have one of the best back courts in the league when he plays alongside superstar guard, Dame Lillard. But, they feel like the Raptors of the West; they need something more.
The Dallas Mavericks are a one-man team, and it’s obvious Luka Dončić needs some big time help from his teammates. He leads the league in scoring (32.9PPG) and is 4th in assists (8.7PG) which speaks to just how much the offense goes through him. He is, without a doubt, the greatest offensive threat of his generation, but even Cristiano Ronaldo needed Gareth Bale & Karim Benzema amongst others to win 4 Champions League titles in 5 years.
The Los Angeles Lakers and neighbors, Clippers just can’t shake off injuries. When healthy, Lakers’ Anthony Davis – who finally accepted the torch from LeBron James – is a top 5 player in the league as he’s shown over the past 3 weeks but, can he (stay healthy)? Kawhi Leonard seems to play whenever he feels like and that’s a worry for the Los Angeles Clippers who invested so much in bringing him and his preferred sidekick, Paul George, to the City of Angels.
The Miami Heat have also had injury problems of their own, with Jimmy Butler hardly ever fit for long stretches. There’s also the case of Kyle Lowry, who they might want to move on from; he’s a competent player but clearly not worth the money they paid for him (Duncan Robinson, too).
The Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks have superstars on their team, but off court issues are threatening to derail their progress. For the Nets, its obviously issues with Kyrie Irving which are well documented while for the Hawks, Trae Young has been a bit of a distraction lately. The Hawks have the 8th best defense in the league, while the Nets have Kevin Durant, 6th in scoring in the league and an MVP candidate. There’s a lot of good in these teams, but not enough to beat a Tier 1 or even Tier 2 teams in a seven-game series.
“The Future Is Bright”
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Indiana Pacers
- Sacramento Kings
- Utah Jazz
These four teams have clearly done something right and their fans can be excited about the future. For the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder, they have been phenomenal in their acquisition of draft capital which has set up a promising decade for their organizations. Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is having an all-star season and is 3rd in the league in Points Per Game (31.3). He’s also a Top 15 candidate in the MVP ladder and can be considered a solid center-piece that can be built around. The Utah Jazz had the best record in the NBA for a brief moment and they can thank their 34-year-old Head Coach, Will Hardy. In him, they have one of the brightest minds in the league and with the draft capital acquired from the Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell trades, they have more than enough pieces to make some interesting moves.
The Indiana Pacers and Sacarento Kings are perhaps the most exciting of the four as there has been remarkable improvements in their fortunes. The Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton has been one the Most Imporved Players in the league. He leads the league in assists per game (10.9) and is 4th in Steals (1.8). Bennedict Mathurin is currently the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award while teammates, Myles Turner (2nd in blocks per game -2.4) and Buddy Hield (4th in 3pt made – 83) are equally having impressive seasons. Together, they’re hopeful of a slot in the Playoffs.
Led by De’Aron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, the Sacramento Kings are having their best start to the season since 2004. They have the NBA’s longest current playoff drought, a 16-year run filled with nothing but unadulterated misery but they currently sit 4th in the Western Conference and could very well put an end to that run this season.
“Stuck In NBA Purgatory”
- New York Knicks
- Chicago Bulls
- Washington Wizards
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Charlotte Hornets
Of all the categories a team might want to find itself in, this is the absolute worst. As the name hints, it’s a state of uncertainty in the present as well as the future. It’s taking a HIV test and being asked to return in a week for the results – it is hell. Most teams in this tier have all their chips on the table, and it clearly isn’t working for them.
The Chicago Bulls, for example, have been ravaged by injuries and have no chance of winning as they currently are despite having one of the Top 20 players in the league in DeMar DeRozan. There is some good in the team, but it just isn’t good enough as indicated by their offense which ranks 25th. The Charlotte Hornets have tried every possible move they can in the trade/Free Agency market to construct a competent roster, but owner Micheal Jordan hasn’t had the same luck he’s had as a player. The trio of LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward barely spend any time together on the court, while there’s still the issue of Miles Bridges and his legal problem hanging. The Washington Wizards aren’t exactly awful and are objectively the best team in this tier, but the best they can hope for is a Play-In spot and that’s just not good enough. The New York Knicks aren’t far off. Just like the Wizards, they’re a .500 team at best and despite the addition of Jalen Brunson in Free Agency, their rotten luck still remains. If only they had been more proactive in their pursuit of Donovan Mitchell.
The worst team in this tier is undoubtedly the Minnesota Timberwolves. Their decision to trade for former Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert looked like an appalling idea from the onset and has played out like one. After giving up 4 First Round Picks in total (along with 5 players), a lot was expected. Instead, they have clearly regressed as a team and the developments of All-Star Big Man, Karl-Anthony Towns (who has seen 7 Head Coaches & 5 General Managers in his 8-years with the T-Wolves) as well as that of rising star, Anthony Edwards have both stalled.
For most of the teams in this tier, the next step might be to blow up their season and join the tier below, which ordinarily would involve trading with teams in the One Trade Away From Contending tier or, exploit multiple trades to shape their team into something resembling a competent roster. For the Timberwolves, though, their next step should be an offering of burnt sacrifices to the Most High and hoping He forgives them for that atrocity and borderline sin that is the trade for Rudy Gobert.
Victor Wembanyama Sweepstakes
- San Antonio Spurs
- Detroit Pistons
- Orlando Magic
- Houston Rockets
Living on a remote island without any form of communication to the outside world is the only excuse for not knowing the name Victor Wembanyama. He’s a 7ft3 French prospect coming into the league next season and, as LeBron James described him, he is an alien. He has a 8ft wingspan, he can dunk like Rudy Gobert, shoot like Kevin Durant, can block shots like Robert Williams, and can rebound like Steven Adams. The 18-year-old is yet to play a minute in the NBA but, all his games are being broadcast on the NBA App. There hasn’t been this much drama surrounding a draft prospect since a certain kid from Akron, Ohio came into the league in 2003 and he turned out okay.
All the teams in this tier suck and are fighting for a chance to win the #1 pick in the draft lottery next year, so they can select Wembanyama. There are a few players in teams in this tier that are fun to watch, though, like Orlando Magic’s Paolo Banchero & Bol Bol, Detroit Pistons’ rookie, Jaden Ivey (who is averaging 15.6, 4.7 & 4.2) and the Houston Rockets’ second year Shooting Guard, Jalen Green. When the season approaches the trade deadline, this list of 4 could become 8; a figure that could further increase to 10-12 when the playoffs come by. Whatever you do, do not bet on these guys.
Don’t forget to check out our NBA Regular Season Daily Specials presented by BetKing and check here for our Regular NBA Betting Odds for each day. Have both pages bookmarked and be sure to return daily for the best odds you can find for the NBA.
/ 10 months ago
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