Basketball is probably the most exciting sport on the planet. It’s fast paced and condenses everything that soccer is into a perfect game. Soccer fans might disagree, but basketball has grown in popularity. The NBA has plenty of glitz associated with it. It’s where the top players go to ply their trade, and they can land huge contracts.
It’s not just the action on the court that makes it so gripping. It’s how the league is kept fresh and unpredictable every year. The less established franchises get to choose the most promising players when they move to the NBA. It means teams don’t tend to dominate for longer than 5 years at a time. The constant rotation of players provides a different dynamic to each season. Just take a look at the Golden State Warriors. They went from a seemingly unstoppable dynasty to a middle of the road team in just a single campaign.
We’ve taken a look at some of the most exciting aspects of what’s happened so far this season, as well as what you can expect to see as we inch closer to the playoffs. Keep on reading to find out all you need to know about this season’s NBA.
Top Off Season Trades: Success Levels
Every off season sees swathes of trades take place. Players can be traded purely for their new team or to use them as a sweetener in another potential deal. It can create some intense situations, especially with salary caps forcing teams to be frugal with their money.
We’ve taken a look at some of the top trades from the off season and analysed whether they have been a success so far at the halfway point.
Dennis Schroder: Thunder to the Lakers
This was purely a roster strengthening trade for the Lakers. Already blessed with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers have some serious talent in their ranks. After winning the playoffs last time out, it’s now been more a case of fine tuning. Schroder, on paper, looked to be an extremely sensible trade. He finished last season at the top of the charts for scoring off the bench. With almost 19 points per game from the bench last year, this was a great signing for a side that had some superstars, but lacked a little bit of depth.
Schroder can be considered a moderate success so far this season, but he has struggled for consistency. A particular highlight was the 28 points he drained against the Kings. However, this came after he scored just 11 points against the Pacers. It was expected Schroder could increase his points tally playing on a stronger side. In his defence, he’s had to embrace being more of a team player with the Lakers which has led to a rise in his assists figures. Schroder has settled in okay so far, but Lakers fans can expect to see the best of him next season after he has fully acclimatized. Despite sitting in 3rd place in the Western the Lakers are still favorites to win both the Western Conference and the playoffs. Set at +134 to win the Western Conference and +266 to win the playoffs they have the shortest odds by far. While the Lakers are inconsistent this season, they still have two of the best clutch players in the league in LeBron and AD so the playoffs is a bet that offers more value than the Western.
James Harden: Rockets to Nets
Harden to the Nets was a trade that raised a lot of eyebrows. With Irving and Durant already at the Nets, the addition of Harden made for a mouth watering prospect. It was all the more important after KD sat out all of last season and there were no guarantees that he would be the player he used to be. The link up between Harden and Durant is also something many were looking forward to as the two used to play together at the Thunder.
This particular trade is something that has had an impact on how the Eastern is perched. Making the Nets such a powerhouse, especially after a 7th place finish last time out, changes the dynamic of the division. It’s something that will certainly impress fans of the Nets, but it’s also a bit of a shock for bettors as it makes the division a lot harder to call. This was especially the case before the season started as many didn’t know what to expect, whether the team would gel or if it would be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. Obviously, in hindsight we’re fully aware of how things have panned out.
The Nets have pushed up to challenge in the Eastern this year with their all-star forward line. This is with Durant only playing around half of the games so far this season due to injuries. It has to be said that the Nets are a big shout for the playoffs if Durant can get completely fit. Add to this the incoming Blake Griffin and the Nets are in a strong position going forwards. The Nets are the second favorites to win the playoffs this year and the odds of +287 are relatively low value. Even with the Nets talent another injury to Durant and other teams will feel they are there to be challenged.
Chris Paul: Thunder to Suns
Chris Paul’s move to the Suns is perhaps seen as a smaller trade, however it’s what the Thunder will get in the future that makes this such an interesting deal. The Thunder got four players and a 2021 first round pick for Paul. They then traded some of those players for further picks in drafts.
While the Suns have benefited from Paul being part of their roster, they’re currently second in the Western Conference. This has had a big impact on the odds for the Suns to win the playoffs. Going from finishing 10th in the Western last season, Paul has turned the Suns into genuine contenders. You can get +2,892 on the Suns to win the playoffs outright and +1,455 on them to win the Western Conference. This is great value for a side that’s sitting just behind the Jazz. The wager on the Suns to win the Western is even better value when you consider the Jazz has a 0.5 record over their last ten games with the Suns having 0.8 over the same period. The Thunder has a great opportunity to rebuild. If it uses the draft picks correctly, then it could well build an era defining team. Of course, it’s all ifs and buts, but never underestimate what a strong draft can do for a team in the long term. It is an almost guaranteed no go when it comes to winning the playoffs this season. With odds of +43,171 this is a bet you should definitely stay away from.
NBA 2020-2021 Season Recap
It’s been a little bit of a strange season. What is important to understand, is that Covid-19 has played a large part in things. No sports anywhere in the world are operating normally, so expected league standings are all over the place.
This is shown in both the Eastern and Western Conferences at the moment. In the Eastern, most expected the Bucks to run away with it. In the Western, most expected the Lakers to run away with it. In both cases, the teams sit in third place.
Obviously this doesn’t mean their seasons are over, nor that they should give up on winning the playoffs. What it does mean is that they’re not performing at the level that they or their fans expected them to.
When it comes to the Bucks, the issue with them is the same as it always has been. They rely too much on Giannis. As arguably the best player in the world at the moment, the weight of expectation is always on his shoulders. While he’s still performing at a high level, his points per game average actually ranks with his second best season ever. He therefore can’t win every game on his own! The Bucks need to put some more quality around him if they want to actually win something.
It does mean that the odds of +321 for the Bucks to win the Eastern are not good value at all. Although they are pretty much guaranteed a playoff place, finishing top of the division looks to be beyond them.
The Lakers have a different issue. Already notorious for not practising too much, the team has taken it to the next level this season. It’s already been claimed that the Lakers don’t practise and while this might be an exaggeration, it’s not too far away from the truth.
James has said in interviews that the short turnaround of this season means that practise is just hard to come by. In order to try and manage the health of the players and keep as much of the roster fit as possible, there have been a lot of days off. Lakers players have been quoted as saying that games this season are akin to practise. The team has used video footage and in-game tactical tweaks to try and make up for the reduced training schedule. This has had a mixed effect. It means the Lakers are managing to keep players away from the treatment table. It also suggests the Lakers aren’t quite as strong as they feel they should be. Teams are able to tactically beat them. It hasn’t had a disastrous impact on them as they are still well placed to reach the playoffs, but the Lakers aren’t where they would like to be in the standings. They are still favorites to win both the playoffs and the Western with odds of +266 and +134 respectively.
The Utah Jazz are the big surprise from this NBA season. While many thought they would be in and around the playoff places, no-one really expected them to be leading the Western at this point of the season. It was helped by their strong form in January and February. January saw a 10-game winning streak and February saw a 9-game winning streak. It shows this team can go on long winning runs, which is perfect for the playoff format.
Whether the Jazz can hold it up for the rest of the season is something that many will be thinking about, but nothing so far is suggesting they can’t. What many feel is behind the success of the Jazz is that it’s a team rather than a collection of superstars. The fact that Donovan Mitchell has odds of +7,211 for regular season MVP shows that this isn’t a team of headline grabbing players.
Despite this, the Jazz still provide great value with odds of +363 to win the Western. For a team sitting in first place, who have shown they can go on long winning runs, these are very good value odds to be looking at.
NBA Outright Betting (2020-2021 season)
Finding value in the NBA at the moment isn’t that easy to do. As already mentioned, the pandemic has had a big impact on how teams have performed this season. While it has made finding value more difficult this term, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Bettors have the best chance to find value when looking at NBA outright betting. The main reason behind this is that when it comes down to the clutch, the top teams are more likely to come through. Clutch players are called clutch players for a reason.
Over the course of the regular campaign, it means that teams with fewer top level players can manage to bring themselves to the top of the pile over the course of the season. This changes once the playoffs start. This is when clutch players will come into play.
The two main teams that aren’t dominating in the regular season at the moment, and who have the best clutch players, are the Bucks and the Lakers. Before the season began, both of these teams were expected to perform better than they have done. As long as they make the playoffs, then they have the players to challenge for the championship.
The Bucks and Lakers offer good value for bettors. The NBA outright odds for the Lakers are set at around +266, but the Bucks are trading at a longer +714. With both teams in the hunt for a playoff spot, it means they are in with a chance of winning the playoffs. However, in terms of value the Bucks are much higher. The Lakers aren’t performing to as high a standard as they previously have, so it does mean that betting on them at such short odds is a significant risk. The Bucks do offer much better value, but their reliance on Giannis does mean that the likelihood of them taking the playoffs this season is very low. Especially with the wealth of attacking talent the Nets has in place.
The Jazz offer the best value for outright bets on the winner of the playoffs this season. With odds of +728 these are quite long odds for the team sitting at the top of the Western right now. Even though they have had a little slump at the midpoint of the season, it’s nothing to worry about. Most teams have a small downturn in form at some point in the season. By having it now it means the Jazz should be in a stronger position going into the final stretch of the regular season. It does mean that odds of +363 for the Jazz to win the Western is possibly better value than a wager on them to win the playoffs.
This is a seriously big call. In fact, it’s only for people who want to take a huge risk. The Warriors are sitting just outside the playoffs at the moment. Two wins and they will make their way in there. While winning the championship is massively unlikely, the Warriors do have one of the top clutch players in the league. When Curry plays, the Warriors will always have an outside chance of winning. If you want to place a bet with longer odds, then you can get a price of +8,064 on the Warriors. Obviously, the odds here are incredibly long and the chances of the bet coming in are minimal at best. But, if you want to place a small stake bet with the potential for large rewards, the presence of Curry makes the Warriors the best choice for this.