NBA fans just received the best early Christmas present imaginable when we found out there would in fact be an NBA season this year, and fittingly enough, it will begin on Christmas day, as we joyously return to the days of Dirk’s fadeaway and LeBron’s fade…ing hairline. Aging freaks notwithstanding, bettors are excited because Bodog has put up the future’s betting on 2012 NBA Championship prospects. The Heat are the favored team this season, while the defending champion Mavericks are at 17/2. We’re not unaccustomed to such injustices, but we’ll examine Miami and the other favorites’ chances in this preview.
MIAMI 5/2 to win 2012 NBA Championship
For a team that melted down so horribly in the Finals, they are sure receiving a lot of respect from Vegas Oddsmakers once again. Personal bias aside (and that is hard to do with a team like this), I don’t see much value in these betting odds at all.
LeBron has proven to be fool’s gold and unless Bosh steps up, it is all going to be on Wade to deliver in the clutch. Wade is now 30. This team has a 2 to 3 year window to win some rings, and then it closes — LeBron has a lot of wear and tear on his not-so-young legs. I think it really all comes down to how well Wade and LeBron can be in late game situations. Defensively, they are both top shelf, and realistically you are talking about 2 of the best 5 players in the league on the same team (Some will even say 2 of the best 3 – Kobe being the other).
L.A. LAKERS 11/2
This is my favorite team at the odds set by oddsmakers. You’re getting a 5.5 : 1 payout on a team that is just a couple years removed from a three peat. Kobe Bryant is aging, true, but he is still at the top of his game in many respects and due to his great guile and skill I don’t see him declining much, even as he approaches his twilight years. The real concerns will be Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
First off, both need to be healthy all season, which is seldom the case. Secondly, they need to realize they are two of the top big men in the game and take full advantage of it. Gasol realistically could average 25 points per games on a lot of teams and Bynum has the talent to some day be that good (in the eyes of many anyway, I don’t think he ever will be).
Metta Ron Artest World Peace is utterly useless but will be an interesting side show as he promotes himself as both a lunatic and a rapper. Ultimately, at these odds I love the Lakers because though they are old and aging older, they have a core of talent and chemistry that can’t be easily assembled. Moreover, they are chasing Baron Davis and Rashard Lewis post-amnesty cutting, so they could add some premier veteran talent very cheaply.
CHICAGO BULLS 7/1
This is another awesome payout for a team whose peak level is infinite. Reigning MVP Derrick Rose proved himself to be one of the premier talents in the league and led the Bulls to a league high 62 wins. They did that with Boozer injured the first part of the season and not his usual self when he returned. If Boozer can return to being the 20-10 stalwart he was in Utah, it will make this team even more dangerous.
Tom Thibedeau had the Bulls playing premier defense. They were able to contain high scorers, while getting their own high scorers off at the same time, and the result was a lot of lopsided Bulls wins.
Joakim Noah also battled injuries last year, but his rugged body and hard work ethic will render him healthy more than not and he is surprisingly much better than myself and other writers anticipated him being coming out of Florida. There was one point at which I thought Noah would be no more than a good backup, but his rebounding and defensive prowess make him a worthy starter on a very good Bulls team. His backup, Omer Asik, is no slouch either and could easily be called one of the best backup bigs in the NBA at this point.
Deng is the key to the Bulls’ future, while adding a top flight shooting guard like O.J. Mayo could make the difference in the title run.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 15/2
Last season, I told everyone to bet on the Thunder at the 18/1 odds set by Bodog last season. It didn’t turn out that the wager paid off, but at 18/1 it made more sense than any other bet I saw, and I don’t regret one penny I wagered on it, because the Thunder were right there with the Mavericks and easily could have scored me and other wise bettors a big pay day.
Russell Westbrook’s improvement was a huge reason why. The Thunder already had forward Kevin Durant scoring 30+ per game. Westbrook broke through to the next level and at times thought he was the alpha dog on the team (he hoisted over 30 shots in two different games in the playoffs). While he will need to better learn his role and slow down offensively to make better decisions, his improvement places the Thunder in nice company with the top contenders on Bodog. It is the 15/2 odds I don’t like. I would wager at anything better than a 10:1 payout, but 7.5:1 isn’t offering enough value for a team that has to still find a way to get through either L.A. or Dallas, not to mention the Memphis Grizzlies.
DALLAS MAVS 17/2
This one I just don’t understand. It has to be about the worst odds I have ever seen for a championship team that is expected to return all major pieces. Seriously, about the most they are going to lose at this point is J.J. Barea, and they will probably be able to shed Erick Dampier and his albatross contract once the Amnesty clause kicks in. And they are at 17/2?
Dirk Nowitzki proved he is one of the best closers in the game. He carried a Mavs team, while Jason Terry beat up LeBron on the wing. The Mavs turned out to have quite a few more weapons than most realized, and the truly scary part is that they did it without Caron Butler. Butler is not a complimentary piece in a machine. He is a former all star that can make a huge difference and has put up huge numbers his entire career with the Wizards.
Between Butler/Kidd/Dirk/Terry/Chandler, the Mavs have enough defense to frustrate the very best teams and they have all the tools offensively to give even the best defensive team complete matchup nightmares. I will be wagering on the Mavs to repeat at these odds, and I think you should, too. There’s too much talent here and there is always something to be said for betting on a defending champion. I don’t think the Mavs were a fluke at all and getting aggressive and taking some money to Bodog is a wise move here.
BOSTON CELTICS 12/1
I don’t like these odds either. Boston is too old and too reliant on players that will conk out very soon. Kevin Garnett doesn’t have much left in the tank; Paul Pierce is long in the tooth (pun intended); though Ray Allen is an impervious to age machine.
Rajon Rondo is the key and the best player on the team at this point, as unlikely as that seemed when the Celtics took him late in the first round out of Kentucky. He’s solidified himself as both one of the best and one of the most exciting point guards in the league and if he ever gets a jump shot and fixes his horrendous free throw form, the Celtics could be even more dangerous.
This is probably the last season Boston keeps this current squad together, so maybe there is something to be said here for a last ditch effort, but I don’t see any value at 12/1 at all. Boston could always come out of left field, but I like the Grizzlies at 25/1 far more than Boston, even if the odds were the same.
NEW YORK KNICKS 20/1
This is actually an intriguing prospect here. Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire have the potential to be as good as any duo in the league, including LeBron and Wade. Anthony may not quite be on LeBron’s level as an all around player, but he is arguably a more versatile and better scorer, while Amar’e is much the same.
Neither player is much defensively, but they play for D’Antoni so it is a match made in heaven since he, too, is allergic to defense. It’s hard to imagine a team that does play so little defense succeeding in the playoffs, particularly with guys like Ronny Turiaf manning the middle.
If the Knicks can find a way to add DeAndre Jordan through free agency, or even Marc Gasol, I would fear for opponents, as it would give the Knicks the missing toughness to win a lot of games. A continued improvement from second round pick Landry Fields will make the Knicks deadly. Fields is good enough they were unwilling to part with him to bring in Melo. Keep an eye on what Donnie Walsh does in the next few weeks.
MEMPHIS GRIZZIES, ORLANDO MAGIC, PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS, SAN ANTONIO SPURS…25/1 odds
Memphis is far and away the best bet at 25/1 odds after demolishing the Spurs in the first round last year and looking great against Oklahoma City before falling. It remains to be seen whether Rudy Gay makes them that much better or if it was addition by subtraction removing the athletic max-contract forward.
Orlando is intriguing, but only if they add a premier point guard to pair with Dwight Howard. They have a shot now that there is an amensty clause, and if CP3 dons a Magic uniform by midseason, bettors on the Magic will count their blessings and prepare for a payday.
I don’t see Portland having any realistic chance in the West. Brandon Roy is clearly done and LaMarcus Aldridge while VERY good is just not quite enough, unless Oden comes out of nowhere and is healthy and productive like he was for an entire month last season. Even with a healthy Oden and ageless Camby, it will be very difficult for Portland to be much more than just another 50 win team, and even that might be pushing it.
San Antonio’s days are done. Getting rid of George Hill was a colossal mistake and they brought in a rookie to play small forward. Duncan is only going down hill. Betting on San Antonio would be flushing money down the toilet; their days are long passed. They’ll probably retool and be back to contending in no time at all, since they have such good brass there, but this isn’t going to be their year and at 25/1 you are getting no value whatsoever.
If you find this analysis intriguing, I highly you suggest backing up a bet at Bodog. We’re all excited there is an NBA season and Bodog is an excellent place to bet since they offer 10% bonuses on deposits and a hassle free cashout system. We also recommend checking out our paid pick plans for the 2011-2012 NBA season, we’ll be murdering the books once again this season with our premier handicapping team.