This column appears courtesy of MyBookie.ag
The 2017-18 National Basketball Association regular season tips off in less than a month, and now is as good a time as any to lock in a price on some long-term NBA bets that are going to be solid values. While there is a little bit of risk betting so early, such as a star player suffering a long-term injury to drive their win total down, it can be a double-edged sword if you bet an under and a player goes down to toss a team into disarray.
- Minnesota Timberwolves (over 48 1/2)
The Timberwolves have missed the playoffs for 13 consecutive seasons, but a huge overhaul this offseason, in addition to existing studs, has expectations soaring in the Twin Cities. The biggest splash of the offseason was adding Jimmy Butler from the Bulls in exchange for Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine. Butler will join Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins to give the Timberwolves one of the most underrated Big Three groups in the NBA. Towns is an absolute beast, while Butler is one of the more unheralded two-way players around.
The team also added several veterans for depth, including Jamal Crawford, Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague, which gives them a real shot at more than 50 victories. They’re not in the same stratosphere as Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, etc., but they’ll be right there challenging Denver, Portland and Utah for the Northwest Division title. The Wolves managed 31 victories last season, so moving up 18 victories or more in the standings might seem like a tall order, especially in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, but this is now one of the more talent-laden rosters in the NBA after a tremendous offseason.
- Charlotte Hornets (over 42 1/2)
The Hornets made headlines when they added Dwight Howard via trade with the Hawks, bringing his double-double average into the fold. In addition, the team filled voids with Malik Monk via the NBA Draft and Michael Carter-Williams in free agency. It certainly will not take much for this team to improve by just seven victories, especially if Monk and rookie Dwayne Bacon can provide meaningful contributions.
Kemba Walker and Nic Batum are a tremendous nucleus, and the fact that nearly every notable offseason move had stars going from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference, playoff spots are up for grabs and the Hornets have plenty of talent to not only compete for a playoff spot, but challenge for home-court advantage in the first round.
- Los Angeles Lakers (under 34 1/2)
The Lakers added the polarizing Lonzo Ball (and his dad) to the mix via the draft, but looking at this roster from top to bottom, it’s hard to figure how they’re going to win 30 games, let alone 35, especially since they’ll be butting heads against the likes of championship contenders like the Rockets, Spurs and Warriors several times per season.
Sure, Ball will make a difference, and Brandon Ingram is a stud, but even if those two stay healthy there isn’t enough talent on this roster to improve from 26-56 to more than 35 victories. It’s just simple math. They might win 12-14 games against Eastern Conference opponents, as they might actually be a playoff contender if they were in the east. But with 52 games against conference foes, the best they’ll win is 14-16 games against the west. They might be able to take a few games from the Kings, Jazz, Pelicans and Suns, but everyone else out west is still better by leaps and bounds. Perhaps in 2018-19, the Lakers take a major jump forward. This isn’t the season they contend, however.
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