Today is a feel-good day for the New York Knicks, who are coming off a 13-point victory last night over the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden., They now get ready to play a Charlotte Hornets team that will be without LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier, arguably their two best players.
The line has been set at Knicks -8, which is the most points the Knicks have been favored by all season. They were 7 1/2 point favorites against the Magic and 7-point favorites in the previous game against the Detroit Pistons after losing by 3 points in overtime at the Memphis Grizzlies in the season opener.
That makes the ‘Bockers one of four NBA teams that are undefeated against the spread, the others being the unbeaten Portland Trail Blazers, the Milwaukee Bucks, and Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs are favored by 6 on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans tonight. That’s after today’s news that Zion Williamson is out after taking a hard fall Sunday night.
Yes, the season is still very, very young. But gamblers need to pay attention to trends, and the Knicks being wager-worthy is a trend that is worth watching, because it was something folks were paying attention to last season, as they had the third-best ATS record in the past three decades.
Also, Jalen Brunson is worth paying attention to for two reasons: He is off to a strong start; and he is actionable in the NBA Player Awards futures market.
JB makes the game easy
21 PTS | 6 AST pic.twitter.com/ydgwa0eyQa
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 25, 2022
Brunson is listed at +2700 (the same odds as Zion) at FanDuel Sportsbook for Most Improved Player, and as we learned two seasons ago when Julius Randle of the Knicks won that award, it is often given to a player from a team that exceeds expectations. Brunson’s scoring is up 1.4 points to 17.7, and his assists have jumped from 4.8 last season with Dallas to 7.0 this season in New York. He is ninth in the NBA in assists-to-turnovers ratio at 7.0, and only one starting point guard, Toronto’s Fred VanVleet, has a better ratio (8.25).
Listed ahead of Brunson for Most Improved Player are Tyrese Haliburton (+900), Anthony Edwards (+1100), Tyrese Maxey (+1500), Lauri Markannen (+1700) and R.J. Barrett (+2300). Barrett missed his first 11 3-point attempts of the season before breaking out for 18 of his 20 points in the second half against Orlando. Need proof that books can be slow to adjust some markets? There it is.
Now, before we get too carried away, the season is young and the NBA schedule-makers have done what they always do on the sly: Given the Knicks an easy schedule to start the season, which feeds optimism in the New York City market, where the Knicks are about 8 million times more popular than the Nets. The Knicks should get a reality jolt beginning Friday when they begin a stretch of five tough games: At Milwaukee, at Cleveland, home for Atlanta, at Philadelphia, and then home for Boston on the second night of a back-to-back.
But as we have learned with the Jets and the Giants and their overachieving coaches that we wrote about yesterday, an exceptional coach can produce unexpected results. And Tom Thibodeau is among the best in the business.
The Nets and Foul Machine Ben Simmons
When you get 38 points apiece from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, it should be all good, no?
Well, the Grizzlies got 39 apiece from Ja Morant and Desmond Bane last night, the Nets surrendered 45 points in the third quarter alone, and the temperature of Steve Nash’s hot seat rose a few degrees. The team that traded James Harden for Ben Simmons after sacrificing five first-rounders for Harden has now allowed 123 points per game, more than every team except the Grizzlies and Nuggets. Simmons has fouled out of two of the three games, and he now has more fouls (14) than shot attempts (13).
How long until the guy pictured below moves over one seat to placate the superstars who called for the firing of Nash and general manager Sean Marks over the summer?
Igor Kokoškov is the hidden genius behind the Brooklyn Nets’ offensive upgrades https://t.co/Bjjgrk68Bk
— SB Nation (@SBNation) October 20, 2022
Despite their 1-2 record, the Nets remain among the favorites to win the NBA championship because Durant and Irving are superstars, and at a certain point somebody (probably not named Nash) is going to challenge their manhood, inspire them to play at both ends of the court, and look a little further down the bench and give a sparkplug like Cam Thomas (MVP of the Las Vegas Summer league in 2021) a look-see.
Is This An Argument Knicks Better Than Nets?
No folks, it is not. But the Nets have not come out of the gate strong, and when there is a power struggle like the one we saw over the summer, things tend to get worse before they get better. Is that fair to Nash? No. But you know what? Life ain’t fair sometimes.
Brooklyn is +900 to win the championship, trailing Milwaukee (+550), Boston (+600), and the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors at +650. The Knicks are +12000, surprisingly ahead of the 4-0 Blazers (+13000).
The Nets are playing tomorrow night against the Milwaukee Bucks, who are favored by 3 1/2 points and are 2-0-0 against the spread. Brooklyn has gone over in two of three games (by 6 and 22 1/2), and the Bucks are 1-1-0 on over/unders while playing the fewest games of any NBA team.
Rest assured they will be rested, and Giannis Antetokounmpo went for 44, 31, 29 and 32 points against Brooklyn last season in four games, grabbing 14 rebounds in three of those games. Simmons will get the defensive assignment on him, and if somebody was allowed to post an over/under on Simmons’ fouls, it would be 6.
Giannis vs KD since he’s been In Brooklyn.
5-1 Regular Season record
Playoff Series Dub
There’s been a huge gap for awhile now pic.twitter.com/k64tAMceCs
— 𝓣𝓪𝔂 (@HIGHENDTAY_) October 25, 2022
So Which of the Nets Is Wager-Worthy?
In the player awards futures market for MVP, Durant is the +1200 sixth choice behind Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid, and right now the buzz around the NBA is surrounding Morant (+850) and Damian Lillard (+2300). We would not advise a Durant-MVP wager under any circumstances, and the guy we would counsel you to keep an eye on is Irving, because of his odds (+10000) and his talent. Yes, he is polarizing. But Kyrie is also very popular among the youth demographic, and the guy is in a contract year and is about three years overdue for a spectacular season.
Again, we have a small sample size for both New York teams. Both will evolve however they evolve. But the Knicks have a trend worth watching and wagering, and the Nets have too much talent to be written off in October. Think short-term with these two teams, not long-term.
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